We all live on budgets, some of us on much larger ones, but nonetheless we do have budgets by which to live. Aside from buying a house, a wedding is one of the most expensive things you can imagine. The reception tends to be the single greatest expense and rightfully so, as it is what you and your guests will remember from the day.
Then comes the dress, flowers, cake, DJ or band, and everything else. All very important and critical parts of your day. The one thing that tends to get pushed down many couples’ list is the photography. Most magazines and websites even have you wait to book your photographer six months before the wedding. Far too late in most cases for more in-demand photographers.
For a moment pretend you are sitting at your fortieth wedding anniversary with your children, grandchildren, and all sorts of gathered family and friends. What are you looking at to remember your wedding day? In most cases your wedding album or pictures from your wedding day. Your flowers have long since dried, your dress is faded, the cake and even some of the memories are long gone. But the images, the story told in pictures, remains as an heirloom for generations to come.
Back to the present, so thinking of your perspective many years from now, doesn’t it seem silly to have the photography be the one thing that gets the budget leftovers? So before starting into the process without setting a budget for photography it is critical that you consider photography before many of the other parts of your day.
So, how much should you budget? Two, five, ten, fifteen thousand dollars? There are photographers across that entire range, some even less, and some much more. To quote a friend of mine here is how to think about photography in most cases, “good is never cheap, and cheap is never good.” When was the last time you tasted a great bottle of $5 wine or picked up a knock-off purse that lasted more than a year?
Of course every photographer will be slighty different in their offerings with a package, but you can generally expect to spend between $2000 and $4000 for a photographer to cover your wedding. Adding items to the package such as an album, parent albums, printed proofs, on-site slideshow, or an engagement session can add on another $1,000 to $4,000 depending on the item(s) added. So be prepared to spend anywhere from $2,000 up to several thousand dollars depending on all the above factors.
So back to the budget, give it more than the leftovers from the day, and remember what will remain forty years from now. Then, find photographers that fall into your budget range, and most importantly, find a photographer that you can trust to capture your day and tell your story.