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How Much Does a Wedding Photographer Cost

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The average price of wedding photographers varies greatly from place to place, but the average cost in the United States is $3,500 for a basic package. 

Some photographers charge an hourly rate while others charge a bundled rate for all aspects of their wedding service. There are other additional costs that should also be understood before booking the best wedding photographer. 

Here we provide information about how much does a wedding photographer cost, the questions to ask a wedding photographer and ways you can keep the cost down.

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Wedding photographer discussing with the bride recently taken photos in the autumn park.

Average cost

The average wedding photographer cost will vary depending on where you are. In general, though, expect to pay between $3,000 – $4,000 in the United States for basic wedding photography packages. 

When considering the cost of hiring a professional photographer you should also be thinking about your own wedding budget. Typically hiring a wedding photographer is about 10-15% of the wedding budget. 

Working backward from your budget to find out how much you can spend, is usually a better first step than searching for starting prices.  

By having a draft budgeted amount set aside for a wedding photographer, you can use this value when calling potential wedding photographers. It is advised to use this value and ask the wedding photographers if they can provide a service package that is within your wedding budget.

If you have the budget, then you may also wish to consider a wedding videographer to capture your special day alongside an experienced photographer.

Wedding Camera setup ready for ceremony.

Additional costs

While a professional wedding photographer usually has a base fee, some also have an additional cost for optional package extras.

Prints and albums

Many wedding photographers also offer physical prints and wedding album options as part of their packages. 

This price range can be between $200-$2000 depending on the number of prints or the wedding album design you select.

One option to keep this cost down is to defer this until after your wedding and use your digital photo files with an online wedding print and album provider. This will also usually reduce the mark-up that a wedding photographer may add on as part of their wedding photography package.

Framed wedding photos and wedding albums also make a great 1 year wedding anniversary gift from family members or from the wedding couple themselves.

Engagement photos

Many wedding photographers include an engagement session as part of their wedding package pricing but if not they can be added for $500 on average.

An engagement photo session is usually a great way to first meet your wedding photographer and get comfortable with them taking your picture ahead of your big day.

If the price of an engagement shoot is bundled into a base package, you may consider asking about reducing the package prices if you do not want an engagement photo shot included.

Second photographer

One of the reasons the wedding photography pricing for some base packages may come in higher than others is because they operate with a second shooter on the day.

These types of photographers are therefore more expensive as not only are they trying to cover the time worked by the number of photographers but it can also increase the cost of your catering if you are providing meals to your vendors.

If you are looking for lower prices for a good photographer, you may choose to look for single shooter wedding packages.

Travel

Travel costs are a consideration when hiring a wedding photographer. If your wedding venue is a destination wedding, then it is likely that you will have to pay the photographer’s travel fee based on the travel time or distance.

Some wedding photographers will include their travel expenses as part of their wedding photographer prices but for others, it will be a separate charge.

These types of questions to ask wedding photographers are important to ask so that you don’t get any surprises on your bill after booking them. 

Food

An extra cost that can be forgotten is if the wedding photographer will be needing food on the big day. It is an important factor to know as it will add cost to your budget and you will need to advise the wedding caterer.

Some wedding photographers may bring their own food especially if you advise that your wedding has a plated meal service and not a wedding buffet.

Having a wedding buffet is a good idea as it can normally keep the catering cost down and help provide an easy option to supply vendor meals.

Postponement

If your wedding is postponed, the photographer may charge a fee as part of their contract. The fee can be the initial deposit that in their policies is non-refundable for cases such as postponement.

Others may charge a postponement fee as a percentage of their base fee and this usually falls around 20-30%. 

Covid-19 has been a large cause for a lot of postponement fees having to be paid to wedding vendors. Therefore, finding wedding photographers with lower base fees and postponement fees should be considered in your decision to book one. 

Cancellation

Like postponement fees, wedding photographers’ cancellation fees usually follow similar policies. 

However, a cancellation fee is usually set as a higher percentage of the base fee than a postponement fee and can usually be around 50%. 

When looking for a wedding photographer, knowing their cancellation and postponement policies are important things to know about as they can add a lot of extra cost to your wedding budget without realizing it. 

Wedding album on table.

Questions to ask

There are a lot of questions to ask the wedding photographer before booking them but here is a list of questions to ask specifically about their costs.

  • Are you available for our wedding date?
  • How far in advance do I need to book your services?
  • What are your fees?
  • What do these fees include?
  • Do you have any packages?
  • Can we customize the packages?
  • Do you include engagement photos or other wedding events like rehearsal dinners in your packages or as an extra charge? 
  • Is a photo album or are physical prints included in your packages?
  • What type of full wedding albums do you offer?
  • Will we select our favorite photos to be part of an album or will you choose them?
  • Will we have the higher quality images as part of the package, or do we have to pay per photo?
  • Do you provide the digital images on a USB drive or are the digital files available on an online gallery?
  • Do your associate photographers have insurance?
  • Will we have the rights to the images?
  • What hours of coverage do the wedding packages cover?
  • Do you charge overtime for any additional hours worked?
  • Are travel expenses included in your fee or is that an extra charge?
  • Do you require a deposit?
  • Are there any other additional fees or additional services I should be aware of?
  • Do you require a meal?
  • When is a deposit due?
  • When will we receive a written contract?
  • What does your contract contain?
  • Do you have a set payment plan?
  • When is the final payment due?
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • What is your refund policy?
  • What is your postponement policy?
  • Do you have liability insurance?

Check out this full list of questions to ask wedding photographers that cover questions around pricing, the wedding day, and other important questions to ask before booking one.

Wedding money jar on table.

Final thoughts

Professional wedding photographers are one of the most important vendors to book for your special day. 

While the average cost of a wedding photographer is usually around $3,500, there are other important fees and optional extras to ask about that may increase this base cost. 

From optional extras such as providing framed wedding prints and wedding albums to additional costs like travel fees and postponement policies.

It is important to know about all these potential costs before booking a wedding photographer so that you pick the right photographer for your big day and your wedding budget.