Getting married? 5 tips for saving money on wedding photography

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Wedding photography accounts for a hefty chunk of any wedding bill, but I don’t think it should.

It makes sense to hire a professional wedding photographer to capture as many moments as possible on your wedding day, but are photos really worth the price of a small car? I make my living from photography, but not by ripping off my clients. I believe I offer a value in my wedding photography services and price my work accordingly, but I also believe that clients shouldn’t pay more than they have to for something and it grates me the wrong way when I look at all the myriad ways couples in love get fleeced. I’ve already written about ways you can save on wedding photography here, and have elaborated on the theme in this post as well as the early months of the year are when a lot of couples are starting to meet with and book their wedding photographer for the summer and fall season in 2013. I hope you find the ideas I’ve developed over the years to help couples save big on their wedding photography bills helpful:

  1. Know what your real budget is and offer a fixed price. If you don’t like the off-the-website pricing, offer your budget and see what the photographer can do for you. If you have a realistic budget that is not too far off the mid-ranged pricing you’re seeing online, you can probably find a good photographer to agree to it without compromising too much on what you get in return. For example, an easy way to save is to have your photos retouched and edited by a student or someone who only does photo editing (or do it yourself). While it can take a little longer to find another supplier, photo editing rates are usually half or less what a photographer will bake into the price. By accepting unedited files from the photographer (if one is willing to hand them over) you can save a bundle as editing images often adds a lot of post-production time the photographer needs to building into the price.
  2. Meet in the middle: Most wedding photographers offer packages. These are tiered offers, from bare-bones basic to a some kind of deluxe all-in deal. As with any kind of retail offering, your best bet is to take the one in the middle. The lowest one may suit some couples but will usually entail some compromises from the couple in terms of what they will get (my basic, for examples, entails just the ceremony and 1 hr afterwards for couple shots). The mid-priced package will probably reflect the mean and should cover the basic plus additional time at the reception. The highest end will be an exhaustive offering of everything the photographer can do for you. If you have the luxury of not having to worry about the cost of your wedding, and you want the peace of mind of knowing you will get more images from your wedding than you will ever need then take this one, but if good enough is good enough, you can probably cut your wedding bill in half by just shooting for the best mid-ranged package you can find.
  3. Put your wedding photographer on your gift registry: here’s an innovative solution to the pricey wedding photographer conundrum. Ask your friends and family to pay for it! Put a link to your preferred wedding photographer on your gift registry and ask for a pre-wedding gift from your friends and family. Pooling resources can lighten the load on any one gift giver and you can then likely get the top end package complete with photo books and engagement photos.
  4. Ask if you can pay in instalments: while everyone likes to get paid quickly, it can sometimes be hard on a couple to have to lay out all that cash in one shot. Wedding bills mount quickly with venue rentals, catering, flowers, DJs, hotel stays, The Dress, not to mention the honeymoon costs. If you are willing to wait for access to your full set of high res images, you can probably ask your photographer to accept a payment in installments over a few months to help ease the pain. You can offer post-dated cheques or some other kind of fee arrangement while agreeing to wait for final release of all high res images until the payment is cleared.
  5. Pay for value, not trendy wedding photography: while some people will not be satisfied unless their wedding photography looks like a fashion shoot for Vogue (and are willing and able to pay the premium for that kind of work), there are many other everyday people who just want to capture the real life beauty, romance, and truth about their wedding day. Sure you want the beauty shots and the creative angles, but you also just want to relax and know that you have someone experienced on the job capturing the moments, eliciting fun reactions from your guests, and who will be easy and accommodating to work with. You don’t have to compromise on quality to get a good price, but you may need to look a little deeper into a photographer’s portfolio to assess what he or she is really capable of offering even if they haven’t packaged themselves up in a glitzy, wedding photography exclusive site.

As with any big-ticket item, it pays to shop around when you are looking for a wedding photographer in Montreal. If you’re reading this blog post you may also have visited the Salon de la mariée exhibition in Montreal this weekend. Hopefully you can benefit from some of the tips on how to save money on your wedding photography I’ve written about here. If you have any other tips please feel free to leave a comment below.