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How Much Does a Wedding Photographer Cost in 2023?

How Much Does a Wedding Photographer Cost in 2023?
Lauren Ward
Lauren WardUpdated August 23, 2023
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How much is a wedding photographer? Costs vary, but the national average is $2,600. While you may pay less or more than this amount, wedding photographers often account for a significant percentage of overall wedding costs.Keep reading to learn what factors influence the cost of a wedding photographer, what services you may receive, and whether or not you should try to negotiate.   

Average Cost of a Wedding Photographer

When you’re getting married, there are many costs to consider — such as the cost of the reception hall, wedding dress cost, catering expenses, the cake, music, wedding flowers costs, wedding rings, the honeymoon, photos, and more. According to Forbes, the average cost of a wedding photographer is $2,600 — but the final price is influenced by things like location, experience, time of year, and amount of hours needed. Therefore, you may pay less than $1,000, or you may pay over $10,000. It depends on your budget, what you want, and which photographer you choose. If you’re planning a wedding on a budget, consider that the average wedding cost is around $34,000 if you plan to have around 100 guests. If you have fewer than 50, then you may spend around $15,000. Therefore, assuming you do spend around $2,600 for a photographer, your professional wedding photos could account for 8% to 17% of your wedding budget. Recommended: Breakdown of the Average Wedding Cost

What’s Included In the Cost of a Wedding Photographer?

Professional wedding photographers often offer different packages to couples, which can affect the final bill. While there’s not an industry standard, you may get options such as:
  • Additional days and hours for:
    • Proposal
    • Rehearsal dinner
    • Reception
    • Grand exit
    • After-party
  • Additional photographers
  • Traveling beyond service area
  • Prints
  • Bound, professional albums
  • Professional editing to improve lighting or remove blemishes
Before you sign or commit to anything with a photographer, make sure you understand exactly what you’ll receive with each package. While one photographer may appear to be the most expensive, they may be offering a more comprehensive package than their peers. If no details are given, speak to them directly.   

Factors That Influence the Cost of a Wedding Photographer

Wedding photography prices are influenced by a number of variables. It’s not uncommon for photographers to typically charge for pre-wedding consultations, additional photographers, travel, and time on an hour-to-hour basis.If you are set on using a specific photographer, you may be able to get them to fit within your budget by tweaking what you want. Always stay within your budget, even for important events.  

Can You Negotiate?

You can certainly try to negotiate the photographer’s cost, but professional wedding photographers know and understand the amount of work that must go into capturing a couple’s special day (taking pictures may be just one part of the work that’s needed). Negotiating may get you a little bit of a discount, but don’t expect a big difference in price.Also keep in mind that professionals in any industry routinely charge according to their level of skill and expertise. Plus, because your wedding pictures are likely to be your most precious mementos from your big day, is it worth nickel and diming someone who’s in charge of a product of so much importance? Of course, if you feel negotiating is warranted because you’re paying for things like travel, food, and lodging, for example, there’s no reason not to try. Just be prepared for the photographer to refer to their various package options as a counterargument.  

Should You Tip a Wedding Photographer?

Wedding photographers don’t determine the cost of their services under the assumption that they’re going to receive tips. Therefore, whether you tip your photographer or not remains entirely up to you. Even though it’s not uncommon for photographers to receive tips during weddings, that doesn’t mean you have to.  If you do decide to tip your photographer, you don’t have to do 20% of the entire cost as if you were at a restaurant. You can simply hand over $50 (or whatever amount you feel is appropriate) and leave it at that. They will appreciate it, regardless of what amount you give.  

Importance of Hiring a Professional Photographer for Your Wedding

Your wedding day will come and go before you know it, so it’s worth considering that your wedding photography may be of equal or greater importance to anything else you’ll spend money on.While anyone can learn to take a picture, it takes a significant amount of skill and practice to be good at it. Also, the cameras and special lenses that professional photographers use are far from cheap. Smartphones may be able to take hi-def pictures, but a professional camera cannot be beaten in terms of quality, especially for one of life’s most important events.  If it’s within your budget to comfortably take on monthly payments, you may consider taking out a wedding loan. A wedding loan is simply a type of personal loan, and can be customized to suit your needs. You can choose a fixed or variable interest rate, a secured personal loan, or an unsecured personal loan, and you can alter the monthly payment amount by shortening or lengthening the repayment term.    

The Takeaway

Many factors determine how much a wedding photographer costs, such as location, time of year, and experience level. Hiring a professional wedding photographer may cost you a few thousand dollars or more. To save money, shop around and compare photographers who live close to where you plan to get married. And to avoid any hiccups, make sure you fully understand what services the photographer will provide (such as additional photographers, prints, and photo editing).If you need to finance the cost of a wedding photographer, consider using a personal loan. Lantern by SoFi can help you comparison shop top personal loans with one single application, with no obligation to you.Lantern can help you compare rates and find loan offers in minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is $4000 a lot for a wedding photographer?
Why do wedding photographers charge so much?
Do you tip your wedding photographer?
Photo credit: iStock/Ugur Karakoc

About the Author

Lauren Ward

Lauren Ward

Lauren Ward is a personal finance expert with nearly a decade of experience writing online content. Her work has appeared on websites such as MSN, Time, and Bankrate. Lauren writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SoFi, including credit and banking.
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