by: Lauren

So I’ve been thinking about something a lot this week. That something is that if I had known what to expect for what things would have cost for my wedding, I would have done things A LOT differently. Seriously. Maybe, just maybe if I hadn’t been so SHOCKED the first time I heard a photographer’s rates, I wouldn’t have gone with the cheaper, more inclusive, lesser-quality option. If someone had told me what to expect beforehand, I could have been prepared, and able to make a more informed, REALISTIC decision. And so today, I have a little something for you- you can think of it as a little *taste* of a project that I have coming soon…

Last year, I did a survey among wedding vendors throughout the world (mostly US, but I did have some International vendors) about what their average brides commonly spend with them. I did this because with all of the info and surveys out there, no one ever touched on what each portion of a wedding cost. How are brides supposed to know what kind of costs to expect and base their budget off of if they don’t even have an accurate idea of what going rates are?! The pricing survey was simple and to-the-point, and while I didn’t get every single vendor in the world, I think the data that I received portrays weddings and vendor pricing accurately. The full-out project is still being completed, but I thought for the purpose of education I would share one of the pieces of data that I collected from the survey.

Photographers from around the world submitted the average amount that their brides spend with them, and the result is….

{Thursday Tips} What Wedding Photography Costs! via

Now don’t freak out. Yes, there were of course lower numbers than this, as well as higher numbers than this, plus pricing can definitely vary by region- and so all those things considered, this is why $3520 is the AVERAGE of all of the data I collected. With the completed project, I will share the full range of the pricing, but for now, I just *had* to get this out there so you all KNEW what to expect! Understand that I’m not saying it’s expected that you spend $3500 on your wedding photography, but just know that it’s a REALISTIC average for wedding photography! Because quite frankly, I refuse to be anything BUT realistic with you all when it comes to planning your wedding! :)

What are your thoughts, or maybe your own experiences? If you’ve already booked your photographer, what are you paying? What kinds of pricing have you seen for wedding photography? This is all about being REALISTIC with each other, so please do share! (Just please be nice about it!) :)


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{Thursday Tips} What Wedding Photography Costs! via


Founder & Editor at Every Last Detail
Lauren Grove is the editor and owner of Every Last Detail. A clueless bride-turned-wedding planner, Lauren uses her experiences and knowledge to educate and inspire brides all over the world.

31 responses to {Thursday Tips} What Wedding Photography Costs!

We love your comments, but please remember to keep them kind and positive, as this is a place for inspiration and sharing information. We have the right to remove or not approve any negative or harmful comments.
  1. Kaitlyn

    As a soon-to-be bride who is spending a lot of time researching the prices of different vendors before setting the budget and actually solidifying decisions, this is very realistic. The “best” price I’ve found for a wedding photographer whose work really makes me swoon is $3000 (and that’s with a $500 discount for students)! So i think this post is good for brides, because the other engaged girls I know aren’t aware of costs like this for many people’s “MUST” item.

  2. Lorri adair

    We are definitely planning a wedding on a budget – about $12k for 200+ people. And i have saved a lot of money already just by researching prices before we book – as kaitlyn mentioned. i have also researched what can be done on a diy scale – photography is definitely not one of them. Our photogrpaher was our one splurge. when all is said and done, you have your love of each other, and your photos as memories. it is all about attaining balance in your budget and deciding on what is truly important to you. to us it was photography. we saved elsewhere, for example – with the cake, because this is not an aspect of the wedding i am that concerned with. my sister has graciously offered to make our show cake. and we are getting an inexpensive dessert bar through our caterer.

  3. jessica lorren

    this is great Lauren- I’d love to see the average cost of wedding photographers who shoot film. Lots of brides are coming my way looking for that specifically now.

  4. Kate


  5. Kate


  6. Cassandra

    I agree that this is pretty accurate. I’m actually a wedding photographer myself and am finally joining the ranks of brides to be. I just got engaged two months ago and the very first thing I did was look for a photographer. I realized that all of my favorites were $3k and up, and that’s in Florida. My wedding will be in Arkansas and the rates were pretty much the same. I have found a photographer for $2k, and we worked on the perfect package for me. I always advise my brides to think about what really matters though. The food or venue that’s only for one day or the photos that will last a lifetime.

  7. Grace

    Dear Lauren, I think your insight is so spot on. These things are undervalued in many consumer’s minds because on some level, many of them are achievable for the individual. But when it comes to your wedding, there is such a difference in the outcome when you rely on professionals. As a wedding vendor (stationery) I encourage couples to price shop before they come see me, so we can get over sticker shock before I say the price. At the end of the day, this isn’t a hobby and the work feeds my family. It’s insulting when consumers aren’t willing to realize that I try hard to give amazing value and results at the best price for their budget – but it’s still my livelihood! On the average wedding, I will invest 20-30 hours in each customer, plus a 50% materials and production cost. Your average photographer will have over 100 hours, plus an enormous amount of education and equipment overhead. The couple WILL BENEFIT from that investment! Or they won’t understand it and will most likely look back and be disappointed or justify “well, that’s where I cut back”. Paper is a common place this happens, I’ve written a post about it on my blog about why this decision, while “easy,” might not make sense for everyone! Thanks for putting this great article out there!

  8. Koru Kate {Koru Wedding}

    Our top priorities were venue/food, photography & band & we decided to splurge on those items & save on the rest. In Ny/NJ everything seems to cost more & We spent more than that average for our wedding photography which included an engagement session, full day coverage with two photographers, couples’ album & 2 parent albums. It was worth every penny! We love our wedding photos so much that’s impossible to narrow them down for our album :-)

  9. Shane McMurray

    Hi Lauren, I saw this today and had to respond. Both The Knot and I (The Wedding Report) have been providing “what each portion of a wedding cost” for years. While our methodologies differ, none of the numbers collected by either of us come close to this number.

    This number is representative of highly skilled professionals that have been in the business for a min of 5yrs and more like 10yrs at that price range. The average amount couples spend varies by market, but the US average is closer to $2300 if you look at The Knots data and $1700 if you look at our data (again very different methodologies for collecting). I’ve been collecting data for over 7 yrs (63,000 survey samples) from both couples and professionals and nothing has ever come close to this average.

    While I admire your intent, collecting data from businesses alone is not an accurate reflection of this market. It is very fragmented. every couple does not hire a professional. Contrary to popular opinion, and I know many pros hate to hear this, but 71% of couples spend less than $2000 for Photography service.

    Here is a breakdown of both The Knots data and mine.

    Wedding Photographer Average Cost:

    The Knot:
    2011 – $2299
    2010 – $2320
    2009 – $2444
    2008 – $2655
    2007 – $2651
    2006 – $2466

    The Wedding Report
    2011 – $1668
    2010 – $1777
    2009 – $1740
    2008 – $1500
    2007 – $2038
    2006 – $2265

    • Lauren Grove

      Hi Shane, thanks for your comment and info! I have seen all those numbers, however, here on ELD, I encourage brides to only hire professionals, and so I wanted to reflect those professionals’ going rates, enabling brides to be more informed so they can indeed go and hire professionals. :)

      • Kate Uhry

        THANK YOU! As a professional photographer I am so tired of big wedding websites such as The knot, etc. giving brides false ideas of what they pay for a professional photographer. Ive also seen the stat of 12%-15% of your total budget should be allotted for wedding photographer. Do you think that sounds about right?

  10. Julie @ Kiss & Punch

    This is great info. Wish I had seen something like this when we got married in 2008. We paid significantly more.

  11. Caroline

    Amen, Lauren! This was a great post and I think your number is spot on. No one should be including the price of craigslist “photographers” Or other non-professionals in their info. That is why brides get so confused when they see false numbers from other resources and then see what a pro actually costs.

  12. ben

    Sorry about the caps to start…I can’t make it “uncap”

    I’m not sure why Shane would include the data from brides who did not book a professional photographer, isn’t that the same as including getting married in your backyard when evaluating venue costs? It’s another option, but doesn’t really get to the heart of the survey. An average is just that, an average. If i desire to purchase an average product, then I expect to pay an average price. If something is a priority for me, i’m going to spend more than average to get a higher quality product. The same is true of Photography.

  13. Alton Strickland

    Not a bride, but a photographer. I am inclined to agree with your numbers and would encourage couples to use this as a starting point. If it is less, they are blessed. if it is more, they can adjust without surprises.

  14. Wesley Leytham

    I agree with Ben. Certain publications tend to draw certain brides who plan their weddings on DIY budgets and attract the photographers who cater to that type of bride. Those polls are less than scientific as well. I got married in 2000 with a $7,000 wedding budget, and I spent almost $2k on photography. That was 12 years ago, and back in the boring old days of film and stiff portraits with little creativity and lots of flash. God help us if we’re still at a $2k average. most of the photographers in my area are charging a minimum of $3500, so I think your poll is looking pretty reasonable at this point :)

  15. Shane McMurray

    I apologize, but it wasn’t clear to me that this was a “Pro pricing” only survey. The reason I include ALL types of couples is because it’s the only way you can show the TRUE, unbiased, economics of weddings. Universities, local governments, investment firms, research companies, and businesses use my research because I take these things into account.

  16. Wesley Leytham

    Why wouldn’t it be a “pro” pricing survey? When you hear about the average cost to replace the brakes on your car, so you want to know the average price of what professionals charge or how much a friend could do it for? How about a heart transplant? Do you want to know the average price of a certified doctor or do you want to take into account what a nursing student would charge you for that transplant. There lies the problem with many wedding industry related issues these days. so many non-professionals have infiltrated the industry that we have to now specify whether or not we’re talking about the price of a professional vs non-professional service in a poll? Agonizing…

  17. Andy Mac

    Thank you for this blog post! I am linking to it on my FB and twitter. this is sooo true, a lot of brides are in shock when we tell them our prices. thanks again

  18. Lauren

    As a wedding planner, We often try to do just this: give them an average price for vendors. It is really helpful when creating a budget and deciding what is most important to you. So many people just start booking people without a true idea of cost, or what funds to allocate to what, and then they end up over budget, or disappointed. Can’t wait to read about your research of other wedding vendors pricing!

  19. sol

    Thank you for these stats! it’s so hard to know what going rates are for quality photography when none of the pros publicly list their prices. I agree that there are many couples that pay less but often, then get less. A friend got a “deal” on their photography by having a friend shoot their wedding and, 2 & a half years later, they have yet to see the images! A pro is reliable, start to finish…

    • Robin Azersky

      my brother in law had a friend take pictures, the photographer/friend was leaving the next day for vacation and the pictures got erased. go with a PRO!

  20. JP Brandano Photography

    We are based in Florida and we do charge $3000. for one of our packages but we also have a package priced at $1600. We offer 2 photographers all day and there is not a time limit we are there all day 10 – 12 hours. We realize the economy is bad for m,any, including photographers but we are helping you create memories not only for yourself but for your children and grandchildren,. If you look around I am sure there are wedding photographers that will have different levels and will have at least one that is economical, I know of one here in florida :)

  21. Erin Davenport

    Just seeing this post now – what an interesting comment thread! I completely agree with you, Lauren, and the others who said that having an average for non “uncle bobs” is invaluable to brides looking for quality. I’m so thankful you’re doing what you do and like the way you think ;)

  22. Corinne Krogh Photography

    Thank you so much for doing the work on this survey! In my opinion, there can’t be enough of this information out there. :) Looking forward to reading the other posts!

  23. Johnny WEst

    i’m a former Navy photographer and I recently got into weddings about 18 months ago. Our average booking is $2500, Hi is $4900 and Low is $1400. Looking at the numbers from everyone, they seem ok.. I guess I’m more concerned about the volume. and the time that these photographers are giving clients? We never give over 8 hours and 80 percent of our weddings are 6 hours. Doesn’t this go into an account when figuring out the cost?

    I have no problem letting the client know that I’m pretty cheap at $200/hr but also that they also get a master graphic designer (me) to do crazy stuff with their photos.

    I just realized, I type a lot here and really said nothing.

    :) we’re friendly.

  24. (a Bride)

    5th Ask to see the images from the wedding (start to
    finish). In order to choose a photographer you need
    to know what criteria are important to you and your fianc.

    Typically no one else is around for this intimate moment other than the photographers capturing the memories for you.

    Here is my web-site wedding photographer riverside ca (

  25. Wendy (a Vendor)

    In regards to the other surveys taken and compared to this, I see that it was actually very clearly stated this was a survey of a certain type of wedding & it’s vendors, as is always spoken about on this blog. As a professional photographer myself, I’d rather see this data (even though I know not everyone has the budget for this type of wedding and that’s ok), than data from The Knot who has encouraged brides to go to a local flea market, learn to barter with people, then take that knowledge back and use it on your photographer. Maybe that’s why the numbers are so much lower. Huge bummer.

  26. Belinda Philleo (a Vendor)

    As a wedding photographer I very much appreciate the amount of work you put into this post (as well your others) to help educate couples on what to expect! I only wish that I would have had information like this when I was planning my own wedding in 2006; like you said in your first paragraph- I would have made some way different and much more realistic choices. Thanks for all your hard work!

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