How Much Does A Wedding Photographer Cost // Couple Kissing At Wedding Reception

How much does a wedding photographer cost in 2024

Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 04:48 pm

What does a wedding photographer cost in 2024

When it comes to booking a wedding photographer, the cost can be a significant concern for many couples. With so many other wedding expenses adding up and on the horizon, it’s important to understand the factors that influence a wedding photographer’s cost and how to make informed decisions that align with your budget.

In this article, we will delve into the complexities of the cost of wedding photography, exploring industry standards, what will make one photographer cost more than another, and potential hidden expenses. Whether you are planning a grand celebration or a more intimate gathering, this guide will provide you with the information and insights you need to navigate the world of wedding photography pricing.

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Understanding Wedding Photography Costs

The cost of wedding photography can vary widely based on several factors, including the photographer’s experience, the package you choose, location, and the length of coverage. On average, couples might spend anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 on wedding photography, but these numbers can fluctuate significantly depending on what you’re looking for.

Factors That Influence Pricing

The pricing of wedding photography is not a one-size-fits-all. Several key factors influence how much photographers charge:

  • Experience and Portfolio: Seasoned photographers with extensive portfolios tend to charge more for their expertise.
  • Location and Travel Expenses: Destination weddings or venues outside the photographer’s local area may incur additional travel costs.
  • Coverage Duration: The length of time the photographer is required to cover the event affects the price.
  • Team Size: Hiring additional photographers or assistants for larger weddings can increase the cost.

Package Options Explained

Photographers offer a variety of packages that can include engagement shoots, multiple locations, digital galleries, and physical albums. Understanding these options and what each package comprises can help you make a choice that fits your needs and budget.

Additional Services and Their Costs

Beyond the basic coverage, photographers may offer extras like special editing, drone photography, or photo booths. These add-ons can enhance your experience but will also affect the final cost.

Types of Wedding Photographers and Their Experience Levels

When considering the cost of a wedding photographer, it’s essential to understand the different types of photographers and their experience levels. This knowledge will help you gauge the range of expertise available and how it impacts the overall cost.

  1. Associate Photographers: These photographers often work under a more experienced lead photographer or within a larger studio. They typically have a few years of experience and offer a more affordable option for couples on a budget. While they might not have the extensive portfolio of a lead photographer, they still bring a professional level of skill and creativity to capture your wedding day.
  2. Second Shooters: A second shooter is usually hired to assist the lead photographer. They capture additional angles and moments that the lead photographer might miss. Having a second shooter can significantly enhance the coverage of your wedding, but will also lead to a higher photography cost. Their presence ensures that more candid and behind-the-scenes moments are documented, providing a richer narrative of your day.
  3. Lead Photographers: Lead photographers are often highly experienced professionals with a substantial portfolio and a distinct style. They typically handle the primary photography responsibilities and are the main point of contact for the couple. Lead photographers command higher fees due to their expertise, reputation, and the quality of their work. Investing in a lead photographer can be worthwhile if you’re looking for a specific style and a high level of confidence in the final product.

Budgeting for Your Wedding Photographer

Allocating a portion of your wedding budget to photography is crucial. Experts suggest spending about 10-15% of your total budget on photography. This is very dependent on how much you value photography. For some couples, they will choose to place photography above other common high-expense items like wedding venues or catering depending on how much value you place on these memories.

Breaking down wedding photography pricepoints

The major factor on how much a wedding photographer costs is going to come down to skill set, experience, education, and quite frankly if they are a legit business or not. When looking at the average price of wedding photography nationwide this will take in ALL weddings and ALL photographers.

It will include the photographer someone hired off Craigslist and it will include the 30-minute courthouse ceremony. This makes it difficult to say definitively how much is “right” for a wedding photographer to charge. So to make things a bit easier, I will break the pricing down. For each of these price points, I will be referencing what a full, eight-hour day of coverage would cost.

The New Wedding Photographer – $0-$500

Usually, this is the person who has never photographed a wedding and is trying to break into the market and build a portfolio. This person is EXTREMELY risky to hire. Of all the couples I have talked to 9.9 times out of 10, they have hated their photos and the photographer took away from the experience of their wedding day. Since a professional photographer will help your day run smoothly, someone just starting out will likely cause more drama due to a poorly arranged schedule, or by ruining important moments.

  • Experience: New to wedding photography, building a portfolio.
  • Risk Level: Extremely high risk. Likely to cause issues on the wedding day due to inexperience.
  • Outcome: Often results in dissatisfaction with photos and added stress.

Entry Level Photographer Pricing – $500-$1500

  • Experience: Photographed at least one wedding, starting to invest in their business.
  • Gear: Some professional equipment, inconsistent style.
  • Risk Level: High risk. May not have consistent results or extensive experience. You also may get businesses at this point who are uninsured or practicing without a business liscence.

The “affordable wedding photographer Cost” – $1500- $3000

  • Experience: Moderate. At this point you are working with some one who understands weddings and has photographed a handful of them. They are beginning to develop a distinct style. Often these are part-time photographers. This allows couples to save some money and still get good images.
  • Risk Level: Moderate risk. Quality can vary greatly; some photographers may still be relatively inexperienced.
  • Gear: This photographer is likely to have professional gear and backups of that gear. This is essential for any photographer you hire to have!

PRO TIP: Most of the couples who are disappointed with their photographs have hired a photographer in this price range.

I think the reason for this is that this area of the market is highly saturated and sometimes you will find a photographer who has only photographed 2 weddings and starts to price themselves in this price range. It is really difficult to tell how good the photographer is at this price point since they don’t have a lot of work to show and if they do it tends to be very inconsistent. Some weddings look amazing, while others do not. You will also find photographers in this range who do incredible work but are working on a part-time basis. This leads to inconsistent images since they are not regularly working and honing their craft

Professional Wedding Photographer Cost – $3000 – $5000

  • Experience: This person has received professional training, photographed a large number of weddings.
  • .Quality: High demand due to consistent, high-quality work and products. This photographer has also created a custom experience for their clients to eliminate stress and lead to an overall better experience.
  • Risk Level: Low risk. A reliable choice for quality wedding photography.
  • Gear: High-quality professional equipment giving you the best quality images
  • Check out my website to see examples to see what this looks like

Luxury wedding photographers cost – $5000+

  • Top-Tier: Multi-award-winning photographers with years of experience.
  • Style: Well-defined style and philosophy.
  • Service: Tailored experience and luxury products for each couple. Likely photographs a very limited number of events a year.
  • Risk Level: Very low risk. Top-notch service and quality for a premium price.
Wedding Photographer Price

While each photographer will vary on how they price their collections, my biggest value is giving you the best experience possible as a client. Each collection I create is tailored to your needs so that you can relax knowing everything is covered.

What does the average wedding photographer cost nationwide?

The national average cost of a wedding photographer in the US is approximately $2,500, but this can vary greatly depending on several factors:

cost based on location

One of the major factors that will affect a wedding photographer’s cost will be where you are getting married. I am based in Montana where the average wedding costs roughly $20,000 in 2024. However, in a major Montana city like Bozeman with a high amount of destination weddings the average jumps to $50,000. This is just in Montana, in other major cities like LA, New York, Denver, or Seattle, you will likely end up spending more on a photographer due to living costs, and demand.

Specific Examples and Data Points

To provide a clearer picture of wedding photography costs, here are some real-world examples of wedding photography packages from different photographers in various locations:

  1. Montana:
    • Associate Photographer Package: $2,500 – $3,500. Includes 8 hours of coverage, an online gallery.
    • Lead Photographer Package: $5,000 – $8,000. Includes 8 hours of coverage, a second shooter, an engagement session, and a custom wedding album.
  2. Los Angeles:
    • Associate Photographer Package: $2,000 – $3,000. Includes 8 hours of coverage and a second shooter.
    • Lead Photographer Package: $4,000 – $7,000. Includes 10 hours of coverage, a second shooter, an engagement session, and a custom wedding album.
  3. Austin:
    • Associate Photographer Package: $1,800 – $2,800. Includes 8 hours of coverage and an online gallery.
    • Lead Photographer Package: $3,500 – $6,000. Includes 10 hours of coverage, a second shooter, an engagement session, and a custom wedding album.

The time of year

Another thing to pay attention to when booking a photographer is the time of year you will get married. I know everyone wants a dreamy summer wedding or something among the fall colors, but you will be paying a premium for these months. With roughly 20 Saturdays between May 1 and October 1 and a massive demand, prices tend to increase. It’s basic economics. (I did sleep through most of that class in college.)

By getting married in the winter or for a week day your photographer may be more flexible on price. I know for myself, if a couple reaches out for a wedding on a Tuesday in February, I am very willing to make things work price-wise.

Recommendations on Hiring a Photo/Video Team

Hiring a combined photo/video team for your wedding can offer several advantages, but it’s essential to consider both the pros and cons to make an informed decision.


  • Seamless Coordination: A team that works together regularly will have a natural rhythm and understanding, ensuring smoother operations and better coverage of your event.
  • Consistent Style: When you hire a photo/video team from the same company or studio, you’re more likely to get a consistent aesthetic across both your photos and videos.
  • Simplified Communication: Dealing with a single team simplifies the planning process, as you’ll have fewer vendors to coordinate with leading up to and on the day of your wedding.


  • Higher Cost: Combining photo and video services can sometimes be more expensive, especially if you’re hiring a highly reputable team.
  • Limited Options: If you prefer a specific photographer and a separate videographer with different styles, finding a combined team that meets both preferences might be challenging.

Tips for Finding a Team:

  • Set Your Budget: Determine how much you’re willing to spend on both photography and videography. This will help narrow down your options.
  • Research and Reviews: Look for teams with excellent reviews and a robust portfolio. Personal recommendations can also be invaluable.
  • Meet in Person: If possible, meet with potential teams to discuss your vision and ensure they understand your style and preferences.
  • Check Packages: Some teams offer packages that combine both services at a discounted rate, so inquire about available deals.

PRO TIP: I have heard it said hiring someone to do both photo and video is like using a spork. It doesn’t do either very well. If either of these are a priority. Invest in someone who specializes in photo or video specifically

Wedding Photographer Cost By Charles Moll Photography

How Photographers Structure Their Pricing – Wedding Photography Prices and Packages

When you start meeting with wedding photographers you will come across a variety of wedding photography price structures.

How Much Should A Wedding Photographer Cost

Wedding Photography Packages

This is by far the most popular option and is what you will see the majority of the time when you are meeting with wedding photographers. With this option, the photographer will have 3-4 pre-built options for you to choose from. Usually, you won’t be able to modify the package to reduce the price. The cost is what it is.

A’la Carte options – wedding photographer cost per hour

In this pricing structure, you have total freedom to choose, The photographer will lay out the cost per hour. From there you can choose all the add-ons you would like. On the surface, this can look less expensive, but the cost can add up quickly!

One Size Fits All

Some photographers will only offer one option. This usually includes one photographer, image rights, and full-day unlimited coverage. While this may look appealing at first, you can end up spending more on hours you don’t need.

Something in Between

Personally, this is what I offer, I prebuild custom collections for each couple, and from there, when we meet up I build something custom for them. I love this option, because this way you only pay for what you actually want and aren’t forced into an engagement session if you have no desire for it.

Planning for Unexpected Costs

When hiring a photographer here are a few things to watch out for that may ramp up the price and have you spending more than you planned. I have seen couples hire a photographer for $2500, but end up needing to spend double this.


Where is your photographer based and is travel included in your collection? I have seen photographers charge up to $1 per mile and a $250 per night fee for a hotel.

Image Rights/High-Resolution files

This is the main thing to watch out for. Some photographers won’t provide print rights to images, or they may charge an additional fee for you to access photographs at a printable resolution. You may be spending hundreds of dollars just to get access to your photographs without a watermark.


This one gets tricky, almost all photographers will charge an additional fee for advanced editing. This includes things like body and hair modification, however, some photographers will charge you even to edit your photos. They will deliver unfinished images and ask you to pay for the final edits.

I hate the idea of hidden fees. This is why every collection I put together for my couples includes travel, Image rights, High-resolution files, and image editing.


How can I save money on wedding photography without sacrificing quality?

Saving money on wedding photography while maintaining quality is all about knowing where you can make compromises and where you shouldn’t. Consider booking your photographer for fewer hours if you’re having a shorter wedding or prioritizing coverage for the most important moments. Look for newer, talented photographers who might charge less as they’re building their portfolio. I highly recommend checking with local photography schools. Usually, the students will provide great quality work, but may not have the experience with the wedding day schedule. Also, consider opting out of additional services like engagement shoots or special editing, which can be added later if your budget allows.

What should I look for in a wedding photographer’s portfolio?

When evaluating a wedding photographer’s portfolio, look for a consistent style and quality across different weddings. Pay attention to how well they capture emotions, the atmosphere, and key moments. It’s also important to see how they handle different lighting conditions and settings. A diverse portfolio that resonates with your desired style is a good indicator of the photographer’s versatility and skill. Be sure to ask potential photographers for at least 3 full wedding galleries. This will help you determine if a wedding photographer’s cost lines up with their work

How far in advance should I book my wedding photographer?

It’s advisable to book your wedding photographer as soon as you have your date and venue confirmed, typically around 9 to 12 months in advance. Popular photographers often book up early, especially during peak wedding season. Booking early also gives you ample time to discuss your vision, plan engagement photos if you have them, and ensure you don’t have to compromise on your top choice due to availability issues.

Is it worth it to have a second photographer at my wedding?

Having a second photographer can be incredibly valuable, especially for larger weddings or if you want coverage of simultaneous events, like the bride and groom getting ready in different locations. A second photographer can capture different angles and moments that the main photographer might miss, providing a more comprehensive story of your day. Consider your wedding’s size and scope when deciding if this is a valuable addition for you.

How do I handle copyright issues with my wedding photos?

Understanding the copyright policy of your wedding photos is crucial. Typically, the photographer retains the copyright of the images, granting you a license to use them for personal use. This means you can print and share your photos, but you cannot sell them or use them for commercial purposes without the photographer’s permission. Always discuss and ensure the copyright terms are clearly stated in your contract to avoid any misunderstandings.

Can I negotiate the price with my wedding photographer?

Yes, there’s often room for negotiation with wedding photographers, especially regarding package details. While their rates might be set, you might be able to customize a package that better fits your budget. For example, you could negotiate the inclusion of an engagement shoot, additional hours, or even the delivery of digital files only, without physical prints. However, respect the photographer’s professional value and understand that quality photography is an investment.

Wedding Photographer Cost By Charles Moll Photography

Wedding Photographer Cost – Final Thoughts

While every wedding will have a different budget for what they can afford, my biggest piece of advice is to spend the most you can on a photographer. As one wedding planner, I talked with said

“A professional photographer will make everything so much easier for everyone involved in the wedding. If I know a couple has hired a photographer I trust, I will cut them a deal, because it is going to be less work for me.”

Besides your spouse, photographs are all you get to keep from your wedding day. Please, don’t be one of the many couples I talk with every year who went cheap on the photographer and regret it.

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