Why you should NEVER skimp on wedding photography

Let’s face it. Weddings are crazy expensive. I’m all about finding ways to save money, and there are lots of ways you can do so. But if you only splurge on one thing for your wedding, LET IT BE PHOTOGRAPHY. That’s right, I’m a venue owner and a stationery designer and I’m not telling you that your splurge item should not be one of those things, but photography. Why? Because its true! If you live in middle Tennessee, chances are you know someone who is a “photographer” and its tempting to hire them for cheap or even have them shoot your wedding as a wedding gift to you to save money, but hear me now and believe me later, DON’T DO IT!!!

Here’s why:

1. You will not get this chance again.

This is your wedding. Hopefully you will only be having one. Isn’t it worth the investment? The #1 regret I hear from Southall Eden brides about their wedding day is that they are not happy with their photos. Don’t be one of them. Besides, when else will all your family and friends be gathered in one place? Probably never, except for at your funeral, and by then you won’t care. My own sister had a very mediocre photographer at her wedding. Within a year, both my grandma and my mom passed away. Those are the last family pictures we will ever have, and they are not good. The value of that now far exceeds the $1,000 or whatever money was saved on the photographer.

2. It’s not just for you, its for everyone who loves you.

Your uncle couldn't capture this with his Point and Shoot camera! photo by Photographix

Of course your wedding day should be all about your and your fiance, but don’t forget how much time, effort, and money your family and wedding party have put into it as well. They deserve some nice photos to remember the occasion by. But even more than that, think about future generations. Won’t your kids and grandchildren want to see these? What girl doesn’t love seeing old wedding photos of the generations before her? This is the one aspect of your wedding (aside from your marriage itself) that will last forever.

3. A wedding photographer can anticipate what will happen next.

This is why you should not only get a great photographer, you should get a great wedding photographer. The word “photographer” encompasses a variety of people- family photographers, fashion photographers, commercial photographers, etc. Being good at one area doesn’t necessarily mean you are good at another. If you hire someone whose livelihood is shooting weddings, there is a pretty good chance they have done this enough times to not only know where they need to be in order to capture certain moments, but also random things like what kind of light will come through a stained glass window at 5:00 in May, etc.

4. A great photographer can turn an ordinary wedding into an extraordinary wedding.

I have seen this first hand on multiple occasions. A couple is on a tight budget and doesn’t have a lot of money for decor or fancy extras at their wedding. But they hire a great photographer, and lo and behold when you see the photos you would think the wedding cost twice what it really did. The photographer captures everything at its best, and everything that is wonderful about the day, and when you look at your photos you remember your wedding day fondly.

5. If it doesn’t turn out well, you don’t want to have hard feelings with a friend.

This is a big one. If you hire (or ask a favor from) a friend and the photos don’t turn out well, it can seriously damage your relationship. Every time you see that person for the rest of your life you will think of how s/he “ruined” your wedding photos. It may not be intentional, but you will. Its kind of like if they ran over your cat with their car tire. You know its not intentional, but you can’t help but associating them with this one unfortunate act.

So how much does a great wedding photographer cost in Middle Tennessee? This depends on what all is included. Some photographers quote their rates for shooting only, while others quote packages that include both shooting and prints, albums, digital images, etc. When you are researching photographers you should keep this in mind and make sure you are comparing apples to apples with regard to pricing. That being said, I know a couple of great photographers whose coverage starts around $2,000, but you should not be startled at a base price of $3,500 either. Sure that’s a lot of money, but what you get in return is priceless. How can you argue with that???

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  • […] skimp on wedding photography. Of course we agree 100% and think you should head on over to her blog and read it! Posted in Features, […]ReplyCancel

  • Kate Crafton - February 9, 2011 - 9:23 am

    THANK YOU for posting this!
    I actually did the same thing that a lot of brides do! When we originally got married (back before I was a full time wedding photographer) I had a fellow photography student *gasp* capture our wedding. Years later, we had a vow renewal with a professional photographer and it made a HUGE difference on how we viewed the day. All the little details (venue, flowers, etc) that we worked so hard on really shined with a professional’s artistic eye. I don’t think a lot of brides/grooms realize what a difference it can make! Thanks again!ReplyCancel

  • Linda @ Cedarwood Weddings - February 16, 2011 - 7:20 am

    YES, YES, YES! Well stated. You just don’t know how many times we have hosted AMAZING weddings yet the photos are just not up to par and don’t even begin to show the beauty of the day. It’s heartbreaking for us, and we always wonder if the bride and her family realizes just how much they missed by not having great photos. Photography should be a top priority. Thanks for stating our sentiments so well!ReplyCancel

  • sue rakes - February 16, 2011 - 3:42 pm

    this is such a great post! can i copy and paste it with a link to your blog and site on my blog to share with inquiring brides? coming from me it will not be as well received….think you wrote from the heart and made sound points….let me know, ok?ReplyCancel

  • […] know… I know… I’m obviously biased but I totally agree with Shannon at Southall Eden. She recently wrote a blog post that I completely agree with. Your wedding pictures are so […]ReplyCancel

  • […] yourself or you know someone about to tie the knot please take some time to read or share this blog post. You’ll be glad you […]ReplyCancel

  • Oleg Bari - February 21, 2011 - 4:03 pm

    Great article ! Just hope that all the brides thought the same !ReplyCancel

  • Neil Cowley - February 22, 2011 - 2:15 pm

    Thanks for stating it!
    I’m re-starting my podcast publishing, any interest in doing an interview with me… u wouldn’t be the first stationary designer, but you’re still cool: http://makelovereal.net/abcdesign-stationery/ReplyCancel

  • Adam Coker - February 22, 2011 - 2:24 pm

    Amen! I just had to post this link to my Facebook!ReplyCancel

  • Mikey S - February 23, 2011 - 8:55 am

    Thanks for an excellent Article; even more so from a non-Photographer.ReplyCancel

  • Brooke Boling - February 25, 2011 - 11:30 pm

    Thanks for writing such a wonderful article. We appreciate the support shannon. Can’t wait to shoot at your farm someday.


  • Jeffrey Chan Tin - March 6, 2011 - 6:57 pm

    I only wish more couples would realize this by now!ReplyCancel

  • darling paumen - March 8, 2011 - 6:04 pm


  • ragemichelle - March 8, 2011 - 6:25 pm

    Very good advice. My first wedding..sheesh..I let my dad talk me into using one of his friends. The pictures were HORRIBLE.ReplyCancel

  • Maria Mack - March 8, 2011 - 7:00 pm

    Nicely said! I couldn’t agree more.ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - March 8, 2011 - 7:41 pm

    Yes! Totally agree. I linked this to my facebook fan page… thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Wisda - March 8, 2011 - 7:50 pm

    Great post! Just what I was talking about with a friend!ReplyCancel

  • Autumn Teesdale - March 8, 2011 - 7:51 pm

    Great article and so true! I have 2 friends getting married soon, hope they read this!ReplyCancel

  • Karen - March 8, 2011 - 8:50 pm

    This is great– glad to hear other wedding professionals other than photographers say what we try to emphasize!ReplyCancel

  • Michael Hooks - March 8, 2011 - 9:48 pm

    This is a great article. I’m going to link it from my blog.

    Thanks for the insight!

  • Lisa - March 9, 2011 - 11:06 am

    Great post. I’m always telling brides the same thing and I’m a florist! Nice work on getting the message out to brides about what a great photographer can do for your wedding even if it’s a DIY, in the backyard affair.ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ Lorenz Photography - March 9, 2011 - 11:38 am

    EXCELLENT article! Thank you so much for summarizing elegantly and concisely the real value of hiring a creative, professional wedding photographer for your wedding. THANK YOU THANK YOU!ReplyCancel

  • jamie - March 9, 2011 - 11:49 am

    there is much truth to this, but i sure feel sorry for the bride that is on a budget due to economics or special circumstances. i was thankful to be able to afford my wedding photographer that cost $1,000 six years ago. I am an amateur wedding photographer and my heart and soul is in this. I am budget friendly and i dont feel that makes me or my client any less “memorable”. i think it is important to get to know your photographer and their style.ReplyCancel

  • Karen - March 9, 2011 - 12:25 pm

    thanks so much for writing this article; we have a studio in a small town in Ontario and there are a kazillion “photographers” doing business out of their home and offering to do weddings for $500 and then later, we hear all kinds of horror stories about what went wrong with their photos!
    Good luck with all you do and keep up the great work! Weddings are so much fun to be part of and I feel very blessed!

  • Jim - March 9, 2011 - 12:51 pm

    Thank you Shannon for posting this. It always means SO much more when it comes from another wedding professional than when it comes from yet another photographer. Will link your post from my blog this afternoon!


  • Rhee - March 9, 2011 - 1:06 pm

    Seriously, I think I love you. I hope you don’t mind if I send this awesome article on the viral superhighway!ReplyCancel

  • Kris - March 9, 2011 - 2:33 pm

    Thanks, excellent article and very true.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle Zuniga - March 9, 2011 - 2:59 pm

    THANK YOU, Well stated and I have to share!!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - March 9, 2011 - 5:02 pm

    SO true – thanks for writing this. I’ll definitely be sharing!ReplyCancel

  • […]  This is another great read for anyone planning a wedding!  See the original blog post here. […]ReplyCancel

  • Thepixtakers - March 9, 2011 - 11:18 pm

    I couldnt agree more. We once in a while get the email saying they have had to cut costs and go with a family member; i just wish them luck with their future endavoursReplyCancel

  • Paula - March 10, 2011 - 4:32 am

    Thanks for posting! Is it OK if I put a link to this article on my site?ReplyCancel

  • magdalene - March 10, 2011 - 4:38 am

    its what remains after a wedding and it is so precious!!ReplyCancel

  • Florida wedding videography - March 10, 2011 - 6:14 am

    This is a great post, the same points can be said about hiring a pro videographer!ReplyCancel

  • Abby - March 10, 2011 - 9:20 am

    SO TRUE. I posted this on my Facebook photography page- I really hope people read this! I hate hearing about brides that do this and then end up regretting it. :/ReplyCancel

  • Hilary Mercer - March 10, 2011 - 11:47 am

    Awesome post! I completely agree!ReplyCancel

  • Shelley Paulson - March 10, 2011 - 5:29 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this! It is so clear and articulate, and because you aren’t a photographer, it doesn’t come across as a sales pitch. :)ReplyCancel

  • Wedding Photographers in Boston - March 10, 2011 - 9:31 pm

    Great post and I’ll be pointing my couples to this blog post when they have questions about pricing.ReplyCancel

  • John Bergmann - March 10, 2011 - 9:52 pm

    This is a marvelous post and is extra-special coming from someone other than a shooter. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Jentry - March 11, 2011 - 1:38 am

    Wow – absolutely amazing article! Great information – everything I want to say to a bride all in one spot!ReplyCancel

  • kate - March 11, 2011 - 6:27 am

    very true. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As a Wedding photographer it is very hard to get this accross to you clients without them thinking you are trying to upsell them.

  • Kitchener/Waterloo Wedding Photographer - March 12, 2011 - 10:08 am

    Wonderfully said….every bride should read this :)ReplyCancel

  • Erica Ann Photography - March 13, 2011 - 6:42 pm

    Amen and Amen! Thank you so much for this valuable post!ReplyCancel

  • Brad Zweerink - March 14, 2011 - 12:05 am

    Amen. Not only does this make sense to me as a wedding photographer, but all of these downsides happened to my parents at their wedding some 40+ years ago. Best friend John was going to take the pictures but he had a film mishap and they’ve only got one lousy picture from the whole day. It is a cautionary tale and I see it as a great reason for people to hire a pro.ReplyCancel

  • Hilary warhaugh - March 14, 2011 - 3:43 am

    Great post and so true, if only all our potential customers knew this, understood this and realized the value of what a truly amazing thing great wedding photography can be. At the end of the day that is all they have to supplement their memory.ReplyCancel

  • Maike - March 14, 2011 - 10:28 am

    Great article! Thanks so much for writing it. I often want to express to brides this exact thing, but have a hard time because it just sounds like I want them to hire me… really, I just want them to hire a great photographer [even if it’s not me :)].

    Thanks again for posting!

    ~maike rinaye~
    mrinaye photography

  • Emma Sharkey - March 14, 2011 - 8:08 pm

    Fabulous post and well written. However, spending the national debt on wedding photography may not guarantee you hire the best wedding photographer or someone who will do a good job. Price alone does not determine the worth of a photographer or what they are capable of :) Research and communication go a long way when trying to find the best wedding photographer for the job :)ReplyCancel

  • sYRESA - March 14, 2011 - 8:34 pm

    As a GA photographer I find the area people CUT costs is photos.
    I ask-Your Mother bakes-did she do your cake?
    Your Aunt sews-did she make your dress?

    Apply those theories to family taking your Wedding Portraits too!ReplyCancel

  • wedding photographer melbourne - March 15, 2011 - 5:19 pm

    Good site for wedding photographer fans. I see many helpful tips here.Thanks so muchReplyCancel

  • Charlie - March 15, 2011 - 5:55 pm

    Aweesome and so so true..hope its ok going to link on my fb page..everyone should read this well written article!ReplyCancel

  • Tate Needham - March 15, 2011 - 8:33 pm

    Great post – lots of great points indeed!ReplyCancel

  • Lori McCormack - March 16, 2011 - 5:38 am

    I agree with all of this, but to play the devil’s advocate, if you never ever took a chance on someone who has no name in wedding photography and who may be a friend, no one would have a chance to get into the game would they?ReplyCancel

  • Paul Rowland - March 16, 2011 - 6:14 am

    VERY well written article stating the importance of photography. It’s one of the only things (besides the actual memories) that last long after the day is over.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - March 16, 2011 - 12:36 pm

    Fantastic article.
    Lori I would have to disagree. I helped other photographers as an assistant then as a second shooter-you can build up a portfolio as well as knowledge before jumping in head first. Sure there are those out there who simple do not have it in their budget to spend $3500 on their wedding photographer-therefore they can tak advantage of perfectly capable photographers who don’t yet. Have the portfolio to back up a higher price.
    But I would certainly not say new photographers are doomed in the market if no one takes a chance and hires someone with no experienceReplyCancel

  • Cynthia - March 16, 2011 - 2:39 pm

    I totally agree! I skimped on my photographer for my wedding (because I knew nothing about planning a wedding or photography)…and I regret it every day. :-(ReplyCancel

  • brittany - March 16, 2011 - 6:01 pm

    totally agree- unfortunately im one of those who used a friend to get a good deal and now regret that decision.ReplyCancel

  • Jason Soon - March 24, 2011 - 9:48 am

    Great post! Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • iiona - March 26, 2011 - 12:27 pm

    I have to disagree, it totally depends on the type of person you are and what you value as “great” photo’s. We took “wedding photos a week before at our state capitol and because of who we are and what we like for photo’s we set out camera’s for our family and friends to take photos and we LOVE every single one of them. Because it reminds us of all the people we had there at the wedding and each person’s uniqueness. It also allowed us to see the wedding from the children’s point of view and it was awesome. We had a small wedding at a friends house out in the country and it was the best thing. I wouldn’t change one picture or thing for anything… we cherish our pictures. And as some say, how is a new comer to get their feet under them if no one will give them a chance… at some point everyone was a new comer and not experienced…ReplyCancel

  • Ian - April 24, 2011 - 4:19 pm

    I think there are some great points in there. I wonder though have you had discussions with your clients trying to explain where the cost comes from in order to justify the price? Or have you found this unproductive? Most people I talk to still think that a photographer might do say 10 hours work on the day and get paid $3000 making their price $300 per hour. Clearly this is not the case but perhaps a little explanation in terms of how much effort goes in to photos, comparing before and after post processing and the benefits of x,y or z bit of expensive kit that you use could help the discussion. Without that sort of talk many people just look at the prices and think, I’m not going to pay 3, 4 or 5 grand for a photographer. And the common arguments I see for hiring a higher price professional are always emotive arguments rather than factual arguments. I think the level of emotion involved in wedding decisions is not that high these days, its a subconcious cost / benefit question that goes in in the minds of the happy couple. I have to say though the work on your blog is pretty darn impressive and I would think it speaks for itself when you are talking to potential clients.ReplyCancel

  • Brittney - May 13, 2011 - 10:16 pm

    I totally agree! We paid $1200 and got junk photos for our wedding! After 10 years of marriage, I still don’t have our wedding pictures up in our house because they are awful! I don’t even want to waste time getting pictures of our kids because I can never find anyone that can do it right.ReplyCancel

  • Sherry Ward - June 3, 2011 - 5:05 pm

    This is an AMAZING article! You would not believe (or maybe you would) HOW many couples complain that they wish they would have just spent the money and hired a professional because they did skimp and totally regret it now. You’d think they’d spread the word, but here in Utah a lot of people hire a friend to save money. Lame idea. Utah is OVER saturated with photographers.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - June 7, 2011 - 1:48 am

    I totally agree with this post. I looked at the photographer’s portfolio and I had a studio session with him and I was thoroughly pleased with the results. Therefore when it came down to signing the contract, I had no reservations about it, actually this was my second priciest item for my wedding. I have friends who are married and have never shared their wedding album, I can proudly say I am not one of those who skimped on my photographer and I don’t regret a single penny I paid. “A word to the wise is sufficient”ReplyCancel

  • Santi Veiga - November 27, 2012 - 5:21 am

    You are absolutely right, it can be applied perfectly to wedding videographer.ReplyCancel

  • eleni dona - December 20, 2012 - 12:45 am

    Thanks for sharing this article. For sure, as a professional photographer, i love this post!!ReplyCancel

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