Why You Never Skimp On Wedding Photography!

I wrote this article a couple of years ago, but I repost it every year right after engagement season. If you are in the process of hiring a photographer for your wedding, its worth a read!

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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, stationery designer, and event stylist and I’m not telling you that your splurge item should not be one of those things, but photography. Why? Because its true! Chances are you know someone who is a “photographer” and it can be tempting to hire them for cheap or even have them shoot your wedding as a wedding gift, 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 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 not until your funeral. 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. If only she had hired a great photographer…

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

Of course your wedding day should be all about you 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, food photographers, etc. Being good in one area doesn’t necessarily mean you are good in 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 it was a luxury event. The photographer captures everything at its best, and everything that is wonderful about the day, and when you look at your photos the memory of your wedding can be even better than the reality.

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? This depends on where you live and what all is included in their rate. 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. I encourage couples getting married at my venue to budget at least $4,000 for photography, but some spend as much as $10,000. 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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  • Thank you for this – definitely a great article and so true! Though I AM bias, it’s nice to read. :)ReplyCancel

  • Danny - January 27, 2013 - 1:12 pm

    Im a wedding photographer and I just wanted to say thank you for writing this its awesome and you deserve a virtual High 5 for it. I cant begin to tell you how many times I have gotten passed over for a friend. Or I was out of their budget because to be honest they just were not thinking. Again thank you for this I’m sharing it so that way people really can understand why they need to budget aproprieatly.

    DannyReplyCancel

  • Bill M - January 27, 2013 - 2:29 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I classify myself as an “enthusiast” photographer. If I am presented an opportunity to do small shoots, I’ll take them as learning experiences. I get asked ALL the time to shoot weddings. As the opportunity to learn is very tempting, I turn them all down knowing that there are many Professional Wedding Photographers in the area that are well deserving of the business.

    I believe any enthusiast photographer that wants to get into the wedding photography business needs to do an apprenticeship for a couple seasons before shooting a wedding. It’s not hard to find them. SO much is at risk and I wouldn’t want to be that person they remember for the rest of their life regretting, and I’ve heard some horror stories (both photographer and bride/groom).ReplyCancel

  • Micah G Robinson - January 27, 2013 - 2:48 pm

    Very well said y’all :)
    It’s so important, I don’t think couples realize that they will all but forget most of their wedding day.

    Very much worth a share.ReplyCancel

  • Allison - January 27, 2013 - 5:39 pm

    I don’t think it’s fair that you post this information. What about us photographers who are just starting our businesses? How are we supposed to learn or become a “great photographer” if we can’t get the experience? You were new once, remember? You can’t claim to be a wedding photographer without experience under your belt. Maybe you ought to post that.ReplyCancel

  • Chad - January 27, 2013 - 9:03 pm

    Allison. You gain experience by assisting. Then third shooting, then second shooting. HIGHLY advisable to NOT take on a wedding if you have no prior experience with them. Even if you are a great portrait or event shooter they don’t prepare you for a wedding. And “learning” on a couples dime will get you sued.ReplyCancel

  • […] “Why You Never Skimp On Wedding Photography!” […]ReplyCancel

  • Lacy - January 28, 2013 - 2:15 pm

    +1 to what Chad said. 2nd & 3rd shoot weddings first :) It makes you MUCH more comfortable with venturing out on your own after that as well!ReplyCancel

  • Lynn - January 28, 2013 - 2:34 pm

    Practice Practice Practice. You can give the gift of shooting the rehersal, showers, and the like. If the photographer is OK with having an amatuer shadow them, then do so but ONLY if the paid pro is OK with it. Get a mentor or intern with a GREAT photographer. Yes, at one time the pros had no clue but worked the way up in every field. Be willing to put your time in and you will be great!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - January 29, 2013 - 7:13 am

    Long after your wedding day, you will have few tangible things from your wedding. Your wedding photos should stand the test of time. We’re finding more and more clients are understanding the benefit of hiring a professional full-time wedding photographer in the Bay Area.

    That said – everyone does have to start somewhere. It is unrealistic as a vendor to expect that everyone will spend $4,000 on photography. For many couples, that 4k is their entire wedding budget. Finding a quality photographer under $1000 is almost impossible – as that will always be someone with less than a year’s experience shooting weddings. Less experience = lower price = more of a chance things could go wrong. As a business, $1000 per wedding is not a sustainable price point to make a living on, if you’re doing it legit. Wedding photographers don’t charge so much because we feel like it – that’s how much we need to charge after taxes, equipment and expenses. Each client gets 40+ hours invested by us in them.

    At ANY price point, but certainly lower budgets, it’s important to thoroughly “vet” your choice. Look at at least 2 full galleries from similar weddings. Ask questions about their backup processes. Talk to a few former brides of theirs.

    Wedding photography is a highly highly competitive market. Every year, new photographers enter the scene with the expectation that its easy and fast money. It’s not. You can’t get defensive about blogs telling brides to go with an experienced photographer – it’s a sound choice and they’re not obligated to throw newer photographers work.

    If you’re a newer photographer and are finding bookings are low, get more experience under your belt. Be willing to take criticism of your work. Most experienced photographers second shoot for others at least 5x a year. Get out there and work with others. Only you can make yourself a better photographer.ReplyCancel

  • Beth Morgan - February 4, 2013 - 1:13 am

    I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    I have so many clients that spend all this money on other things and skimp on the photography and you won’t remember all of that if you don’t have great images.

    I’m so thankful that we hired the photog we did. I couldn’t even remember what my wedding cake looked like and she captured EVERY detail beautifully and we are able to remember the day again and again.

    I can’t wait to show our kids and grandkids our wedding pictures and I hope our clients say the same thing about my work!ReplyCancel

  • Dan Fried/H&H Photographers - February 26, 2013 - 9:10 am

    Well said and worth repeating! Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • sheri j - February 26, 2013 - 4:39 pm

    I have to say without a doubt it is true, even if you thought it wasn’t important to you, years later you will regret not having made the proper arrangements for a capable photographer. I am actually one of those people that have that only regret, I should have acquired a photographer and didn’t. I had family members taking photos and none of them turned out how I would have wanted them to. I will never be able to go back in time and redo it, the bad part is that I could have afforded it and didn’t do it.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren Wakefield - June 26, 2013 - 6:40 am

    SO well said! Love it!!ReplyCancel

  • Shia - April 11, 2015 - 7:07 pm

    I am a bride and my wedding is on a budget. How am I going to afford a $4,000 photographer with a wedding budget of $5,000? You should give advise for brides on small budgets. Not all brides have a $10,000-$30,000 wedding budget.ReplyCancel

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