Wedding Planning Tips & Tricks

Wedding Photography Budgeting Guide: Finding the Perfect Photographer for Your Price Range

One of the most important decisions a couple must make when planning their wedding is selecting a skilled and reliable photographer to capture the special moments of their big day. Wedding photography is an investment that lasts a lifetime, as the photos will become cherished memories for generations to come. However, it's crucial for couples to strike a balance between getting high-quality photography and staying within their budget. In this article, we will explore various factors that influence the cost of a wedding photographer and provide guidance on how much a couple should spend on this essential service.

1.) Understanding the Factors Influencing Cost

Experience and Skill:

The experience and skill level of the wedding photographer play a significant role in determining their fees. Established photographers with a strong portfolio and years of experience may charge more for their expertise.

Reputation and Demand:

Photographers who have earned a reputable name in the industry and are in high demand often have higher rates. Their popularity is often reflective of their exceptional work and customer satisfaction.

Services Included:

Different photographers offer varying packages that may include different services such as pre-wedding shoots, engagement sessions, photo albums, prints, and more. The more services included, the higher the overall cost may be.

Time and Coverage:

The duration of time the photographer spends covering the wedding will affect the price. Longer coverage, such as shooting from getting ready to the reception's end, may cost more than limited hours of coverage.


The location of the wedding can also impact the cost, as some photographers may charge additional fees for travel and accommodations, especially for out-of-state and destination weddings.

2.) Understanding Price Points and Inclusions

Budget Range: $1,000 - $2,500

In this entry-level price range, couples will find photographers who are relatively new to the industry or those in the early stages of building their portfolios. While their rates may be more affordable, it's crucial to carefully review their past work and assess their skill level before making a decision. Typically, photographers within this range will offer basic coverage of the wedding ceremony, some candid shots, and digital copies of the images. Engagement sessions and custom photo albums might not be included, but some photographers might offer them as add-ons. It can be hard to know exactly what you are getting when you hire someone in this range, but can also be an opportunity to support emerging talents and get value for a budget-conscious approach.

What You Should Expect:

  • Basic coverage that focuses on the ceremony and big moments.
  • Basic, little or no guidance for posing.
  • Basic, little, or no knowledge of lighting.
  • Possibly inconsistent galleries. (Most in this price range are still developing their unique capturing and editing style)
  • A limited number of images provided OR an absurd amount of images provided. (There is usually no in-between here, lol)
  • Lower-quality images that may be blurry, blown out, or too dark.
  • Fewer additional services like engagement shoots, prints/print credits, or custom albums.
  • Less time spent getting to know you and creating a personalized experience

Budget Range: $2,500 - $4,000

Photographers in this price range usually have a few years of experience under their belts and may have garnered a moderate level of recognition in their local area. Couples can expect more comprehensive packages that cater to a broader range of wedding photography needs. These photographers are often capable of capturing essential moments from getting ready to the end of the reception. Additionally, their packages may also include an engagement session and, in some cases, a second shooter for more extensive coverage. While these photographers may not be as renowned, they can provide excellent value for their price.

What You Should Expect:

  • Extended wedding day coverage, encompassing various key moments.
  • A moderate number of edited digital images in high resolution.
  • A photography style that demonstrates more creativity and artistry.
  • Optional engagement or bridal session to get to know the photographer better and feel more at ease on the wedding day.
  • Potential add-ons like additional hours of coverage, a second photographer, or prints/print credits and albums.

Budget Range: $4,000 - $6,000

Photographers in this range are often experienced professionals with a solid reputation in their area. They provide top-notch service, including engagement or bridal sessions, high-quality prints, custom albums, and extensive wedding day coverage. Couples can expect to work with an experienced artist capable of capturing the essence of their special day in a distinctive and artistic manner.

What You Should Expect:

  • Full-day wedding coverage, from getting ready to the reception's conclusion.
  • A substantial number of edited digital images in high resolution.
  • A unique photography style that showcases the photographer's artistic vision.
  • A consistently edited wedding gallery.
  • Engagement or bridal sessions to build a relationship with the couple and create stunning pre-wedding images.
  • Customizable packages with additional services like custom albums, slideshows, or premium prints.
  • A second photographer, or the option to add one on.

Budget Range: $6,000 - $10,000+

At this price point, couples can expect the crème de la crème of wedding photographers. These artists are highly sought-after and known for their unique styles and exceptional skills. In addition to complete wedding day coverage, couples may receive extras such as drone photography, custom photo books, and prints on various mediums. These photographers often have an impressive portfolio and can deliver truly stunning and memorable images.

What You Should Expect:

  • Exclusive and comprehensive wedding day coverage, with special attention to detail. (many offer exclusive and dedicated service to a limited number of clients each year)
  • A generous number of meticulously edited digital images in high resolution.
  • A gallery of images consistent with the photographer's signature style that reflects their artistry and creativity.
  • Engagement and/or bridal sessions with personalized concepts and locations.
  • Custom-designed albums and unique presentation options for photo collections.
  • Extras like drone photography, special lighting setups, and custom-designed photo books.

3.) Tips for Maximizing Your Budget

  1. Prioritize Your Needs: Identify your must-have photography elements and allocate a suitable portion of your budget to them. This way, you can ensure you get the services that matter most to you.
  2. Research Thoroughly: Explore the portfolios and reviews of photographers in each price range to find the one whose style aligns with your vision.
  3. Consider A Custom Package: Many photographers offer customizable packages, allowing you to add or remove specific services to match your budget and requirements.
  4. Consider Peak Dates: Booking photographers during the off-peak wedding seasons or on weekdays might lead to cost savings.
  5. Hire Local Talent: Choosing local photographers can help you avoid travel-related fees, making them a cost-effective option.


Allocating a suitable budget for wedding photography is crucial for couples looking to capture the magic of their special day without overspending. By understanding the factors that influence the cost and researching various options, couples can find a talented and experienced photographer whose services align with their budget and vision. Remember, while cost is essential, the value of preserving your wedding memories through beautiful photographs should never be underestimated.

Hey Homie, I'm Aireal.

Meet the West Virginia Wedding Photographer

I'm focusing in to capture souls who are wildly in love & searching for a fun, passionate, laughter-filled photography experience for their wedding and elopement day.
By capturing photojournalistic, candid, and posed images throughout the day, you'll be sure to have a wide variety of images that illustrate your wedding day and love story.
Inclusivity & representation matter. I am an LGBTQIA+ Wedding Photographer in West Virginia. Same-sex & non-binary couples are always welcome in front of my lens.