The Average Cost of Wedding Photography

As 2012 ended, I spent some time analysing my website and blog stats and I noticed that a large number of internet searches relating to the average cost of wedding photography landed brides and grooms at my website.  Although I’ve written articles about why wedding photography is so expensive and why professional albums are the better option over their DIY counterparts, I realized that I never actually addressed the main question couples had: what really is the average cost of wedding photography?

According to a recent survey, the average Canadian bride spent about $25,000 on her wedding in 2012.  Considering that most wedding coordinators and planners suggest spending 10-12% of your overall budget on photography, this math leads you to conclude that the average bride spends between $2,500 and $3,000 on wedding photography.

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So what does this tell you, as a bride or groom?  Does it mean that you must also spend $3,000 on your wedding photography?  Does it mean that if you spend less, you’ll get inferior quality results?  Knowing what the average cost of wedding photography is is not going to help you plan your wedding nor will it help you choose a wedding photographer; you should never choose a wedding photographer based on price alone!  Many couple want to know what the average cost of wedding photography is because they feel like knowing this information will help them determine whether or not they’re getting a ‘good deal’.  Comparing your costs to an average number means nothing – if you want to know whether or not you have received a ‘good deal’ on wedding photography you must stop using the word ‘deal’ and start using the term ‘return of investment’.

Return of investment, at least in terms of wedding photography, can be defined as the amount and quality of services you receive in comparison to the over all cost.  Return of investment (ROI) is subjective – you can have ten couples interview with the same photographer and no two couples may feel like they are getting the same return of investment in the services.

Choosing a wedding photographer is a very personal decision and ROI should definitely be considered as a major factor in your decision making; however, when you choose a wedding photographer you must first love their work.  Your wedding photos are your souvenir of the day, your record of one of the most important days of your life – why would you settle for photographs that you don’t love?

I hope you’re not too overwhelmed by all this chit-chat about ROI, so let’s smooth things out with a real life example.  Many brides and grooms interview a handful of photographers.  After narrowing it down to your top 2 faves, these are your options:

PHOTOGRAPHER A:

  • All day coverage
  • Two photographers
  • Everything on DVD
  • You like their work and they were nice and pleasant during the consultation.
  • Price $2,500

 

PHOTOGRAPHER B:

  • All day coverage
  • One photographer
  • Everything on DVD
  • You love, love, LOVE their work and really connect with them at your consultation.
  • Price $2,500

Both packages are priced the same – an average price, if you insist on comparing it to the national average, but which vendor is the better investment for you?  If ever faced with a scenario like this, you need to ask yourself “Is the fact that I LOVE Photographer B’s work more important than the fact that photographer A has 2 shooters?  What matters more to me, quality of the work or quantity of the people?”  These are the types of questions you must ask yourself in order to determine whether or not you think a vendor offers an appropriate return of investment.

Now that you’re getting the jist of this article, let’s go over one last scenario to get those gear wheels turning in your brain:

A bride and groom start their wedding planning and have a particular photographer in mind, although they know of several whom they also like.  They take a look at prices and packages and this is what they see:

PHOTOGRAPHER A:

  • All day coverage
  • One photographer
  • Everything on DVD
  • High quality of work and the couples initial preference
  • Price $2,500

 

PHOTOGRAPHER B:

  • All day coverage
  • One photographer
  • Everything on DVD
  • Nice work but not the couples first choice as they prefer the style and work of Photographer A
  • Price $1,500

If you compare solely the cost of the packages, it would seem like photographer B offers the better “deal” since their prices are lower than what the average bride spends on photography and they are $1,000 cheaper than photographer A!  Time to use those ROI skills you’ve learned to truly assess the difference between photographer A and B and determine which photography had the best value and not just the best “deal”.  You need to ask yourself if saving $1,000 is really worth the risk of hiring a professional who wasn’t your #1 choice?  Can you reassess your budget to ensure you get the quality you deserve or are you going to make your decision strictly based on numbers?  Is saving some money now worth a lifetime of looking at photos you don’t truly love?  Can you hire photographer A for a smaller portion of the day (which will save some money but still ensure top quality for the time in which they are present)?  Determining which vendor offers the better return of investment when it’s not only style and artistry that are are deciding factors, but budget too, can be some of the most difficult decision making you will do during your wedding planning.

Every couple has a different idea of what a great value really is despite the fact that ‘value’ is a highly debatable and subjective term.  Choosing your wedding vendors, especially your wedding photographer is a very personal decision that should be made with the highest amount of consideration for quality and respect for the artistry and images created.  Whether or not the photographer you have chosen has pricing and packages that fall within the national average, the important thing to remember is that you have chosen your photographer based on the quality of their work.

Are you really willing to risk a lifetime of low quality wedding photos just to save a little bit of money today?

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