What You Want, Within Your Budget

A friend of mine recently asked how much she should spend on her wedding photographer. The simple answer is that the average cost of mid-range wedding photography in these United States is roughly between $1,000 and $3,000. The more complicated answer is “However much you’re willing to and can feasibly spend based on how important photos are to you, personally.”


Lots of brides- and grooms-to-be devote a significant part of their wedding budget to photography because photos make great keepsakes. However, some couples care not at all for photos and would prefer to focus on the food and drinks, which means they’re wondering how much they ought to spend on catering costs (average: $30 to $70 per person). For others, it’s all about the reception venue (average: $1,244).

Whatever your priorities are, roll with them. Don’t worry about what other brides and grooms are spending their money on, since they’re probably not going to ever see your wedding photos, let alone be at your wedding. Don’t overspend to impress someone else, or underspend because someone has told you that X, Y, or Z is not important.

The best piece of wedding vendor related advice I’ve heard recently came from Stanley Shelton, co-owner of J&S Portrait America, which does not seem to have a web site but is located in Detroit for those who are curious. That advice was:

“You want to find someone who can work within your budget while giving you what you want. If you are confused about the pricing and what is included in the package, then keep looking. A good photographer will give a clear description of the services he is providing. Also, don’t be fooled by a big sales pitch. A good photographer will share good things about himself and show interest in getting to know his client. If he is too busy bragging about using only the best high-tech equipment to listen to you, then move on to the next one.”

Shelton is talking specifically about photogs here, but the advice he offers can apply to any wedding vendors you’re thinking of hiring. You want to find someone who can work within your wedding budget. Someone who will give you what you want. They should be specific when talking about pricing and packages. And let’s not forget enthusiastic! The most talented wedding vendor in the world will be hell to work with if he or she is unwilling to talk straight about costs, pushy about defining your wedding their way, or just plain unpleasant to be around.

Money aside, that last bit is perhaps most vital. You’re probably going to be communicating with your wedding vendors a great deal before the wedding and trusting them to make your wedding day special. If a wedding vendor you like treats you like crap, I don’t care how good they are at what they do. Find someone else. Spend however much you want to or however much you can on vendors, but look for vendors who you could see yourself befriending. Unless you’re a terrible judge of character, those are the vendors who will more than likely give you want you want at a price you can afford.

Photo via my aim is true

3 Responses to “What You Want, Within Your Budget”

  1. KTB says:

    I totally, totally agree with this piece. We met our wedding photographer when he was shooting a wedding I was in. He was professional, unobtrusive, fun, and the pictures were lovely. We met with him a few weeks later and he provided us with a full price sheet detailing all of his packages and price points. We agreed on one that we could afford and that suited us–and it definitely wasn’t the package my friend had opted for. Either way, he made the whole experience extremely pleasant and we have beautiful pictures to remember our wedding by. Win-win situation!

  2. Glad to hear it, KTB!

  3. Twistie says:

    I absolutely agree with everything in this article, NtB. I’ve seen it over and over again. When brides (and grooms and families) get along with the professionals, things go smoothly. When the bride and the professional are working at cross purposes, it makes the who process stressful and unsatisfying for everyone involved.

    Mr. Twistie and I hired very few professionals, but the ones we did hire, a big part of the decision was based on how we clicked with them.

    Of course our officient had me in the palm of his hand when I first contacted him in February and he was playing the Chieftans’ Christmas album in the background. Celtic Christmas music two months after Christmas is over? Yeah, that’s my kind of guy.

    As for our photographer, he happened to be the husband of a co-worker of mine. I knew from a couple years’ acquaintance that he was mellow, patient, and able to completely slip into the background so people didn’t notice him. Consequently, we got amazing candid shots.

    But I’ve seen brides reduced to tears by troublesome pros at a couple weddings. Don’t join their ranks.

    If you walk away from a meeting feeling uncomfortable with the professional, just keep walking. It’s not worth it.