Over the years that we’ve been photographing weddings, what we’ve come to realize is that most prospective clients who reach out to us have no idea where to start when it comes to finding the photographer best suited to their wedding or how much it should cost. Some don’t bat an eyelid when they hear approximate budgets from us while others have been astounded. What it boils down to is that there is no industry standard or even a right/wrong answer. It all depends on two factors – one, how much emphasis and priority you place on wedding photography; and, two, how much you have allocated towards the photography & cinema cost.
Wedding photography is a once in a lifetime purchase. It’s an investment in capturing memories that will last you a lifetime. It’s not like any other commodity or consumable that you can set a monthly budget for – like groceries, personal grooming or even shopping. These are much more tangible and easier to budget for. As a bride or groom to be, with a wedding to plan and a thousand other details to figure out before the big day, there are so many things that you could spend your wedding budget on – from venue & catering to decor, entertainment, clothes & make-up artists etc. The avenues are endless and over-spending is inevitable. Which is why it is very important to have a figure in your mind that you feel is appropriate. It is a personal opinion and you are the only person who can decide what budget works for you. Without that figure in mind, it is difficult to judge whether a photographer whose work you like is below, within or above your budget.
Wedding photography today is available at all price points and you can pick and choose what works for you. But remember this: cheap or bargain deal doesn’t necessarily mean “Value for Money”. The ideal scenario is hiring a photographer or team who’s style you like, is a reputed professional and whose charges fall in your budget. Trust us, there are great photographers in every budget and you will be able to find one best suited to you. But to begin the hunt, you need to have a budgetary benchmark. And that’s what we’re here to help you with.
Cheap does not mean Value-For-Money
There is no dearth of wedding photographers today. A huge variety of services are available at different price points. If you don’t decide on a budget, you will be confused with the sheer number of photographers available in the market. We’re sure that you can find a photographer for any price range that you set. But bear in mind that cheap and quantity will not always mean quality.
While it might be tempting to hire someone who seems to offer a lot in very less, remember that you get what you pay for. Although this is not a guarantee, you can generally assume that a more expensive photographer would have more experience, be better known (brand name), have a reputation as a professional and be more reliable. Those are definitely qualities worth paying for. But this doesn’t mean that more reasonable photographers lack talent, dedication or professionalism. In another roundabout way, we are saying that there are good photographers in every possible budget. It all depends on how highly you prioritize your wedding photography and cinema.
Bear in mind that you are not only hiring someone to capture your precious moments but also investing in the expertise and experience they will offer while shooting your wedding story. Your wedding pictures are kind of a big deal! It is unquestionably important to find a photographer in your budget. But it is also equally important to find someone who will capture your wedding day with respect and love. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a less experienced photographer, so long as they match your vision for your day. So, choose wisely!
So now that we’ve confused you with so many suggestions, what should you do, you ask us? Well, read on!
What do we recommend?
We absolutely understand that a wedding has thousand other expenses that you need to take care of. First and foremost, decide if spending on wedding photography is what you and your fiance want. Is it your priority? Do you value those timeless memories over other aspects of your wedding? And although we would love to think that wedding photography is a priority for every couple out there, it all depends on how important it is to you. Like we said earlier, there is no correct budget, just what is right for you and for your wedding.
So how do you set one?
Our recommendation for setting a budget for wedding photography is this: 10-15% of your total wedding expenditure. It’s not about how much you can afford but, rather, how much you want to allocate. If the (celebrity) entertainment is more important to you than the wedding photography, for example, then you’ll know to set your budget as less than 10%. We are confident that you’ll be able to find a good photographer in that budget as well.
Or, conversely, if your wedding photos are a super-high priority and you have a photographer in mind whose work you adore but who is outside your budget, then stretching beyond the 15% and scrimping on something else is also a good solution.
But if you don’t have a budget in mind, how will you be able to take these decisions?
We for one, are big advocators of capturing the most important day of your life as timeless memories in pictures. Not just because we are in the business, but because we truly believe that memories should be captured for posterity. Years from now, after your wedding is over, the decorations are pulled down and the food has been eaten, what will remain with you are the pictures and the movies. The moments and your fleeting emotions captured eternally. Our recommendation may sound like a lot, but what you get in return is priceless. It’s a lifetime of precious memorabilia.
A final piece of advice? Don’t buy into any trends or get taken away with what the wedding magazines and websites tell you to do. It’s your special day and your experience and memories are the most important. So give it a great deal of thought and find a way to balance out your style and artist preference with the budget that you can allocate.
We would love to answer any more questions you have on the topic!