Stop to the madness. Why are you paying a 30 to 50% premium for photos for your wedding day?

It happens with everything from the flower arrangements to the venue rental fee, and photography is no exception. Call a photographer and ask for an event fee and you will be quoted a price, either by the hour or an all-in fixed price. These rates can vary but they can also be negotiated to ensure they meet your needs as a client, fit within your real budget and leave enough profit for the photographer to make it worth his or her while. Call the same photographer a day later and ask for a quote for the same event, only this time, say it is a wedding and see what happens. 99% of the time, you’ll be quoted a higher price – for the exact same service. Why?

I understand the thinking – a wedding is a big day, very important, requires special attention, etc. etc. But isn’t that what you pay a professional for on any job you hire them for? Does a professional give a lower grade service to a corporate client running an event? That shouldn’t happen. Your wedding is important and does deserve top quality service – just like any other event a professional photographer is working and you shouldn’t have to pay through the nose to get it.

Here are a few tricks to use when looking for a wedding photographer:

  • Be realistic about your intentions for the photos: Most couples want a small collection of edited, top photos (25-30 images), a key shot they will use for the thank you card, and a few real winners to frame and put up in the new home. When shopping for a wedding photographer, if you know in the end you will only want a reasonably sized set of images, than say so. It cuts down on the amount of work the photographer has to do and should therefore reduce the price you are asked to pay.
  • Be fair: no one can afford to do work that pays no profit. Maintaining professional equipment, software, computers, and skills training as well as managing a small business takes time and effort. These are all factors that go into a photographer’s price. You can always find a budget-friendly photographer. Everyone has a camera these days that can take very good photos. If you want to save as much money as possible on your wedding, don’t hire a photographer at all – just ask your guests to send you their picks. It will of course be hit and miss, but it won’t cost you anything. If, however, you want a dedicated, professional photographer with experience and  who will deliver on the shots you want to get – then hire a pro and expect to pay a fair price.
  • Think of your wedding as a special event: while it really is a big day for you, for most professionals working events, a wedding is really just another event that requires all the same level of organization and professionalism as say, an association banquet dinner or a gala fundraiser. This does not mean you get lower service, on the contrary, you should be getting the same high level of service a real professional provides regardless of the job.
  • Be honest about your budget: if your budget really is $500, say so. But if you are comfortable spending upwards of that ($1500 – $2500) than don’t be afraid to say so as well. It can save a lot of time and hassle simply stating up front what you have to pay then turn your focus on what you want to get for the money you will be spending. For $500 you can expect someone to cover your ceremony, the immediate before and after and deliver a dvd of the images. For higher value service, longer coverage, more elaborate shooting setups including things like photo booths, multiple locations and additional shooters, you can expect to pay upwards of $1200.
  • Be timely: booking your photographer well in advance of the date is always going to get you a better price. Professional photographers live and die by contract work which comes and goes. Everyone likes to know that there is a predictable amount of money to be earned at a fixed date in the future – and if you can offer this and are willing to commit with a down payment, you can ask for a better price. It may not always work but it is worth a try.

In the end, you can spend $20,000 or $200 on wedding photography. It is up to you. In my opinion, the whole wedding industry is structured to suck as much money as possible out of two (usually young) people who would be better off keeping more of their dollars in their pockets so they can make a downpayment on a house or add an extra layer of luxury to their honeymoon.

Be realistic, be fair, think of your wedding as an event, be honest about your budget and be timely in your booking and you will save hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars on your wedding photography.