How Much Should You Pay for a Wedding Photographer?

The Cost of Wedding Photography

How much should you pay for a wedding photographer? That’s usually the first question that comes up when someone begins searching for their wedding photographer. But, in reality, it should be one of the later things considered. Still, we want you to be in the know so let’s dig in.

Your Wedding is one of the biggest celebrations of your life. And regardless of where you stand on things like floral arrangements or late-night reception snacks, you need the best photographer to capture your moments, because your Wedding Photos are the one solid thing you walk away from your wedding with. After months of planning, your wedding day will fly by in an instant. So, that’s why your photographer is one of the most important wedding day vendors you can invest in. They capture every moment that make up your wedding day so that twenty, thirty, or even fifty years down the road your photos will remind you of the magic on that day.

wedding photographer

The Budget Rule

Most couples follow the standard Wedding Budgeting Rules that say how much you should pay for a Wedding Photographer. Traditionally, the budget says you should spend 10% on your overall wedding budget on Photography. Anywhere from 10-16% is average. But who follows the rules anymore? When I’m planning a budget with my clients I go over what the most important aspects of their day are. If Wedding Photography is high on the list you should be willing to pay more than just 10% of your budget. There are places in your budget to wiggle. For instance, maybe a large extravagant floral centerpiece isn’t an essential part of your wedding decor. You can lower the cost of your floral budget and put those extra funds to work for the Wedding Photographer of your dreams.

What’s the Average Price Range of Wedding Photographers?

I know you want a quick answer to the question How Much Should You Pay For a Wedding Photographer?”, but the reality is there is no quick answer.

A Wedding Photographer can cost anywhere from $500-$30,000 or more! That’s a really big gap and I’ll explain why. There are a ton of different factors that play into how much a wedding photographer charges. So, where you need to focus most is on the value of your investment to get what you really want. Here are some factors that can influence the cost of wedding photography:

wedding photographer
wedding photographer


There are many types of Wedding Photographers with the biggest distinction being between a full time professional and a part time hobby enthusiast. A pro invests more time and money into photography because it’s more than a passion, it’s a career. A hobbiest will charge less because they invest less into their craft.


We have to be honest with ourselves here. A Wedding Photographer in NYC is going to cost far more than one in rural Kansas. The cost of living and doing business in your local area (or the area you’re getting married in) is going to greatly affect the cost of your Wedding Photography.

Wedding Photographers in Erie PA - Silver & Sage Studios - Wedding Photography
wedding photographer


It just makes sense that an experienced Wedding Photographer is going to cost more than a beginner. An experienced photographers offers you the advantage of having been there, done that and seen it all. They can cope with the flow of your wedding day without missing a beat. In addition, they understand exactly how to relate to you and your wedding party to make everyone feel comfortable. Not too mention, they have had years to develop a ‘relationship’ with their equipment. They know it like the back of their hand. There’s no guessing which lens to use for the best shot or what angle they should shoot from in the lighting.

What They Offer

Every photographer is unique. I’ve read about highly experienced Wedding Photographers in large urban locations that charge $5,000 or more for Wedding Day coverage but don’t include any actual photo delivery. The newlyweds are responsible for paying for any prints, canvases, or wedding albums they want from their day. Some photographers offer full day coverage (12 hours) and others charge by the hour. If you want to know what they offer it’s best to ask and make sure this is the perfect photographer for you.

wedding photographer
Wedding Photographers in Erie PA - Silver & Sage Studios - Wedding Photography

So, Why Do Wedding Photographers Cost What They Do?

I know we haven’t quite answered the question How Much Should You Pay For a Wedding Photographer?”, but I promise we’re getting to it!

Your Wedding Day is a once in lifetime experience and if you’re like most brides you want to perfectly preserve those moments to relive later. So, it’s a good idea to understand what your investment is going towards. Every Wedding Photographer is different, but generally your Wedding Day breaks down into:

  • 1-3 Hours of Initial Emailing, Phone Calls, and Consults
  • 2-3 Hours of Engagement Session with travel and shoot time
  • 1-5 Hours of Editing Engagement Photos
  • 4-10 Hours of Timeline Prep, pre-wedding planning, site visits, and consults
  • 10-20 Hours of Wedding Day work with equipment prep, packing, setup, shoot coverage, tear down, travel back and forth
  • 8-30 Hours of Wedding Day Editing
  • 1-4 Hours of after Wedding Day consulting and design work on any albums or other items purchased.

In addition to the 60+ hours of time spent on each Wedding is the investment into delicate and expensive cameras, lenses, lighting, and software for editing.

So, How Much SHOULD I Pay For Wedding Photography?

Finally, we come to the answer to the question How Much Should You Pay For a Wedding Photographer?”. Let’s break down a little closer to our local area to give you an idea of what you should expect to pay for an experienced Wedding Photographer.

We did a little digging online to see what the going average rate is for Wedding Photography. According to sources such as The Knot and Wedding Wire couples paid an average of $2,400.00 for Wedding Photography in 2019. An amazing online Wedding Calculator Tool called The Wedding Cost Report estimated that you can expect to spend around $3,000 in 2021. We estimated including an Engagement Session. The break down was:

Engagement Photography: $850.00

Wedding Photography: $3,200.00

Remember that many Photographers include an Engagement Session in their Wedding Photography Packages when you’re looking over your budget and planning on how much you should set aside. Also, you’ll need to take into consideration a few other things besides cost when choosing the ideal Wedding Photographer for you. In fact, cost should be last on your list of importance. We’ve got an amazing article to help you choose the best photographer for you. You can find it in the link below. You can also find a link to our most popular Wedding Day Photography Prices.