How Much Does a Wedding Photographer Really Cost? (With Recommendations!)
After your amazing New Jersey wedding day is over, you will want mementos that you can treasure forever—and none are more important than your wedding photos. Whether it’s capturing that emotional bridal gown reveal, or the swoony first kiss between bride and groom, or the throwing of the bouquet, a good wedding album preserves the happiest moments of your wedding. But how much does a wedding photographer cost? It’s a big question that can have a big impact on your wedding budget.
What’s tricky is that the cost of wedding photographers can vary widely, creating a lot of confusion and decision fatigue. To make things easier, we’ve broken down the various factors that can contribute to the overall cost of your wedding photos. This way, you can decide which extras you need—and which you can do without.
Typical wedding photography costs—what to expect
Average wedding photographer costs are currently around $1,150 to $3000, with the typical price being around $2000. However, this fee can be about a whole lot more than a photographer showing up at your reception with a camera—you also have to take into account things like photo styles, package extras, and the photographer’s experience (and that’s just for starters).
Understanding the current landscape of wedding photography expenses can help you to set realistic budgets and make informed decisions. So what’s included with the cost?
Key elements of a wedding photography package
Most photographers will have a set of packages that you can choose from, although some might offer bespoke options too. Packages vary, ranging from basic coverage and a USB of your photos, to premium offerings with pre-wedding sessions, post-production editing, second photographers (also known as second shooters), high quality prints, albums, and more.
When considering packages, make sure to think beyond your immediate wedding photo needs—try to also think about the long-term value of these mementoes to both you and your family. A bigger package will naturally cost more, but it will also include elements that contribute to your wedding memories. It’s all about how much you want to capture and what moments matter the most to you
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Factors influencing wedding photographing costs
Let’s break this down and look at your potential options for wedding photography packages:
1. Extent of wedding coverage
Some wedding photographers offer a comprehensive service that can include rehearsal dinner coverage, ‘getting ready’ photos, and even a second shooter for bigger events. Of course, the more extensive the coverage, the higher the potential cost. So when considering your photography needs, think about the moments that you want to capture.
Are you looking for a full and comprehensive photo journey, from pre-wedding events to the grand finale? Do you want to include images of the bride and groom getting ready, including the big dramatic dress reveal moment and stepping into the wedding cars? Deciding on how many moments you want to be covered is key to choosing the best photography package for your big day.
2. Additional hours and photos
Extended hours and extra photos can significantly impact your overall cost. So, for instance, if you want your photographer to stay till the very end of your reception and capture the magic of that last family dance at midnight, then it’s going to cost more. When choosing your photographer, it’s best to get specific details on how many hours they will actually be at your wedding—and how many photographs will be included in your overall package.
3. Wedding photo format
Consider how you want your photos to be delivered—whether in organized albums, online galleries, or USB drives. Some couples prefer the tactile experience of flipping through a professionally crafted album, while others like the convenience of digital files. If you want both then this will probably cost extra. Understanding your preferences and discussing delivery options with potential photographers will ensure that no hidden costs show up.
3. Photo delivery time
Also, how fast do you want your photos to be ready and delivered? On average, wedding photos take from three to twelve weeks to be returned. For an expedited return, you can expect to pay more, especially if this includes a fast-turnaround parcel delivery service.
If you can’t wait for weeks to see the best moments of your big day, then some photographers offer digital sneak peek files shortly after the wedding. These won’t be the final, polished versions of your photos but they’ll still be exciting to see. This option gives you a chance to share your joy with family and friends immediately. However, it can also add to your cost, meaning that you might need to weigh up the desire for a sneak peak with any budget restrictions.
4. Engagement shoot
As you know, a wedding is about a whole lot more than just your big day—it’s an entire journey, from proposal, to preparation, to honeymoon. And one big part of that journey is celebrating your engagement. Which is why it has become a big trend these days for couples to mark their engagement with a professional photoshoot that expresses their personality and style, whether that’s romantic, vintage, or whimsical.
If you’d like engagement shots to be part of your wedding album, then it might be worth shopping around for a photographer who can offer a special package deal on this.
Other wedding photography expenses to consider
Lost of other elements can influence that final wedding photography price tag, including the following:
- Venue location—if your photographer has to travel far to your venue or even stay overnight, then this might bump up the cost.
- Number of photographers—consider whether you want to opt for more than one photographer to get panoramic and detailed coverage of your big day.
- Event date—if you want to snag a photographer during a busy time of year such as peak summer season or close to Christmas, then take into account that this could impact on your cost.
- Niche weddings—if you’re planning to say your vows while canoeing down a tumbling river, then your photographer will probably bump up the cost of capturing these trickier shots.
- Equipment needs—if you’re looking for special effects photography or the use of authentic vintage film, then this again might increase your costs.
- Level of post-production—if you want your photographer to heavily edit your photos—for instance, creating atmospheric visual effects for a medieval fantasy wedding—then this will take more time as well as specialist skills.
Beware of wedding photo copyright
When you’re picking your package, make sure that you and your photographer are crystal-clear on who owns the copyright to your wedding photos. Because believe it or not, it might not automatically be you.
Having to purchase the copyright for your photographs can add to your costs, so check this upfront. And while this issue can sound like a technicality, bear in mind that it can significantly impact how you can use and share your wedding photos, so don’t overlook it.
Consider the experience of your wedding photographer
Wedding photo costs are very often tied to your photographer’s skills, knowledge, and background. While less experienced wedding photographers will probably be more budget-friendly, seasoned professionals can bring a wealth of expertise—and a special touch of magic—to your big day.
If you’re looking for outstanding, distinctive, high-quality photos, then you might naturally have to pay a little extra. If you’re looking for a specialized style such as dreamy fairytale or editorial wedding photography, then a professional who has developed this niche might charge more.
But if you’re simply looking for a set of sweet photo mementoes, then you can save a lot by hiring a less experienced professional. It’s all about your personal expectations for your wedding album. Just remember that your wedding is a series of special moments, so make sure to entrust those moments to someone with the skill and knowledge to immortalize them beautifully.
In the quest for the perfect wedding photographer, finding the right balance between budget and quality is key. Ultimately, your wedding photos are all about preserving memories that will last a lifetime. So explore your options in detail, ask the right questions, and choose a photographer who aligns with your vision, wedding aesthetic, and personalities. In the end, you want to find a professional who really gets you.
Ready for your big day?
Hopefully, this overview of average wedding photographer costs has been insightful. Don’t forget to take a look at our favorite New Jersey wedding photographers in our preferred vendor list. And if you’re looking for the perfect New Jersey wedding venue for your big day, then the recently revamped Il Tulipano in Cedar Grove is the romantic destination of your dreams.
Want more wedding tips? Head over to our blog.