How to save money on your wedding photography

Wedding photography can be expensive, but don’t expect a photographer to lower the price just because you ask them to. They might if you are booking last minute and the date is still open and they have no other prospects, but in most cases a photographer sets their prices to an amount that they personally need to sustain their business and income. Make sure to shop around you may find a professional that fits your budget. But before you decide to let uncle Bob shoot your wedding because all the photographers are expensive in your area, you should try some of the tips below. They will help you afford a professional although you may not be able to include all the bells and whistles you might have liked.


Gift Certificates

Ask if the photographer offers gift certificates or has a gift registry. Your guests will want to give you a gift you can really use and most couples today already live together and have everything they need for the home. Gift certificates for photography would make a great option and help you afford more photography. If you’re afraid you’ll receive too many certificates you can always limit how many guests you inform about the registry to a select few.

Only have one photographer

Some studios have two or more photographers that cover the wedding. You can ask them to reduce the rate if you only have one photographer cover the day. Some studios will do this but not all. If the photographer uses elaborate lighting set-ups they may need their assistants to help with set-up and breakdowns.

Have the associate photographer shoot your wedding

You could also ask for a reduced rate if the assistant photographer shoots your wedding instead of the main photographer or owner. The assistants may have less experience but still shoot like the main photographer. Make sure to look at images the assistant has taken before going this route to make sure the quality is to your liking. Also meet with the associate photographer to make sure their personality is a good fit.

Skip the proofs

Opt for web hosting or in house viewing in place of an expensive proof album. This way you can use the money toward a wedding album or wall portraits. Some photographers offer their images on DVD for viewing.  If they sell the copyright with the DVD you can create your own proof album. Keep in mind that images printed locally may not look as good as professionally printed images but if your budget just won’t allow for professional printing then the DVD is the next best thing.

Skip the albums or reprints

Many photographers will create packages that include proof books, a wedding album, parent albums and reprints. You can ask to have those items removed so that you can wait and purchase them sometime after the wedding. It may cost you a little more in the long run because there is normally a discount for buying everything as a package, but it will lower the up front costs so you’ll have money for other areas of your wedding. If the DVD is offered you can attempt to make your albums and reprints yourself.

Book less time

If the packages offer unlimited time ask if you can have a reduced rate if the photographer only covers the wedding for a set amount of time such as four hours or six hours. You can also ask for coverage of only the ceremony and family formals and let a friend shoot the reception. Some photographers don’t like covering the reception so they may be more than happy to reduce the rate. If your ceremony is earlier, the photographer may be able to book another wedding later in the day to make up for the income loss.  

Only book journalistic coverage

The most stressful part of a wedding day shoot is arranging the family formals. Getting people to show up on time, hunting people down and trying to keep them in one place can become very complicated and time consuming. The photographer may be happy to reduce the rate if you decide to only have journalistic coverage on your wedding day. Without the family formals you’ll be able to book less time and your guests won’t have to wait for your arrival at the reception. You can always book a bridal or after session to do portraits in your dress before or after the wedding. It will be less stressful than trying to fit time in to shoot them on the actual wedding day.  

Have your wedding during the off season

Most of the country has a wedding season that runs from April to October. The rest of the year November to March is the wedding slow season. Photographers, and even other wedding vendors, have to work hard to book weddings during the slow season because of cold weather and snow worries. If the photographer isn’t already offering a discount for that time of year, ask, it can’t hurt. If they won’t do a discount they may throw in extras for free to keep you from going to another photographer. Plus you may be able to save money with your other vendors as well.

Have your wedding on a day other than Saturday

Saturdays are the busiest day for all wedding vendors. It will be very hard for you to get a discount on a Saturday during the busy season. Photographers and other vendors know another bride will call who will be happy to pay full price if you won’t. If you really want a June wedding consider having it on a day other than Saturday. There are plenty of Fridays and Sundays and photographers are happy to book as many of them as they can since they are rare and may even give a discount to keep you from going elsewhere.

Book a portrait session before or after the wedding

If your budget is really small and you have already tried everything above and can’t get the price where you need it, you may want to consider an after session or bridal session. Let a friend take pictures on the wedding day and book a pro to do formals sometime before or after the wedding. After sessions and bridal sessions typically cost a lot less than booking coverage on the wedding day. You will also have the advantage of time. You won’t be rushed during the session like you would on the wedding day so you’ll have more time for creative poses and lighting. Depending on what the photographer includes with their sessions, you may also be able to shoot at different locations. 

Most photographers are going to be willing to work with you so don’t be afraid to ask. Keep in mind that you do need to have realistic expectations when asking for discounts and deals. The photographer needs to make a certain amount per wedding just like you need to make a certain amount per paycheck.


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