Toronto wedding photographers under $2000

Do they Exist?

A Guide on Customizing Wedding Photography Packages

Hi – I’m Erika, I’ve been a Toronto wedding photographer for over 15 years now and I want to talk to you about something that a lot of couples ask about: is there such a thing as Toronto wedding photographers under $2000? It seems to be a popular number that couples anchor themselves around, and when they start doing research and see actual prices, they’re often a bit shocked.

Why do couples get ‘sticker shock’ when they see wedding photography prices?

There’s 2 reasons some people may feel beyond shocked when they look at wedding photography prices:

  1. Arbitary Baseline: It’s not uncommon for couples to randomly pick a certain number, like $2,000 or $3,000, that they feel is reasonable for photography before they start researching. That’s almost guaranteed to set yourself up for surprise. If you don’t have a fairly significant existing background of knowledge when it comes to wedding photography costs, you’re really just pulling numbers out of thin air and 9 times out of 10, you’re not going to be in the right ballpark.
  2. They use the 10% rule: You know that traditional wedding planning rule where they say “photography should be 10% of your budget”? Yeah – well forget that one. That’s not only excessively dated (and based on the days when a film photographer would come by for only a small portion of the day to take a handful of photos) but it’s just not how photography works. A photographer’s job is not relative to the number of guests present so it’s not going to be related to the overall budget. Whether there are 25 guests there of 250, 8-hours of work for a photographer is still 8-hours of work.

So do Toronto wedding photographers under $2000 even exist?

Yes! Under the right conditions, it’s possible to find a Toronto wedding photographer for under $2,000 (give or take a bit).

With that being said, you need to remember something:

There are 2 categories of photographers who might be able to accommodate a budget under $2,000: Those whose regular prices are already at that point, and those who can customize an experience to meet your budget (or get as close to it as possible).

There are talented people on both sides of that line, but talent is only a small portion of a photographers overall value. Wedding photography is one of those industries where a lot of folks take the ‘fake it til you make it’ approach which means you need to do your due diligence to make sure any vendor that seems too good to be true isn’t hiding any red flags.

As someone who has been hired by couples to shoot “do-over” photos because their original photographer just didn’t deliver what they expected – my experience tells me that you’ll likely end up with a better product and a better experience when you find a photographer who can customize something to get closer to your budget.

Understanding what ‘Customizing a package’ means

The reality of looking for a Toronto wedding photographer under $2000 means you may find yourself discussing the possibility of customizing a package for you. Here’s what you need to know to make customizing a photography package a smoother, more successful experience for you.

#1 – Be transparent about your budget

Customizing a photography package, especially if you’re looking for a photographer under $2000 or have a more limited budget, takes not only clear communication, but also transparency. If you know that you have a preference to stay within a certain budget but your hard-limit is a bit different – share that with the photographer! We’re not mind-readers and we can offer you the best option if you’re clear with us as to what your needs are.

If you’re worried about being open with your budget out of fears that the photographer will overcharge you, then you shouldn’t be booking with that person. Don’t trust someone with your wedding day photos that you wouldn’t trust with sharing your budget!

#2 – The money is coming from somewhere

A photographer is, primarily, a service. That means you’re not paying for product that has a nice cushy mark-up to it, but rather, you’re paying for time. This means that photographers are generally more limited with how much they can reduce rates (under the right circumstances) before it’s just not worth it to take the job.

For the Ten·2·Ten Team, we know what our hard limits are and if it’s not possible to get something close to someone’s budget, we are open about that right away and do our best to provide recommendations to someone who may better meet their needs. But not everyone does that… some photographers are willing to significantly lower their rate to meet your budget, even if it means cutting services (without you knowing) to offset the discount.

Here are some of the things I’ve seen or heard of happening in the wedding industry when people give discounts that I (personally) think are super shady:

  • They don’t put as much effort into the day – you paid a fraction of the price, so you’ll get a fraction of the creativity
  • The photographer won’t rent the additional gear they normally use like extra lighting, different lenses, backup camera, etc.
  • They don’t pay their second shooter and instead, seek out an ‘intern’ willing to work for experience
  • They edit substantially fewer photos than they normally would. (Less time editing = more time to make back the money they lose in the discount to you!)
  • They send your images out for an ‘express’ editing job. Some editing companies have “standard profiles” or editing looks that are cheaper to use than a photographer’s custom style.
  • They get an AI to cull and edit your photos and don’t take the time to fine-tune them

If you end up being offered a deal that seems too good to be true, question it! Ask about what might be different from having accommodated for that lower rate and make sure the contract protects you from any cut-corners.

#3 – Know what parts of the day you want to be photographed

Photographers are paid by the hour, so before you start asking about customizing a photography package and trying to find a Toronto wedding photographer that’s under $2,000-$3,000, you need to figure know how many hours you’ll even need them for.

#4 – Understand that custom means there’s a give-and-take

If you’re engaging with a photographer about a custom package but all you want is the exact same service, but for a lower cost, you’re just wasting everyone’s time. You need to be realistic about the fact that a custom package means there is give and take on both sides. The photographer isn’t just going to do the same amount of work and apply a huge discount to it; customizing often means that while the photographer can find ways to streamline costs, the couple may also be presented with the option of fewer hours of coverage.

#5 – Not all days (or seasons!) are created equal

About 80% of weddings happen on weekends with about 2/3 of those weekend dates being Saturday. Around 75% of weddings are happening in April through October, too but that means even in those cold, chilly winter months, 1 in 4 couples are tying the knot. So what does this mean for you, as a couple, who is looking to find a photographer for under $2,000?

It means that vendors of all kinds are much less likely to be willing to lower their rates or take on smaller jobs if they know that your date is in high-demand and they know they can book it at full price.

High Demand

Here are just some situations that may be considered ‘high demand’. This means a photographer may not be as willing to discount, customize or take on smaller contracts because the risk of turning away full-day work is too high.

  • Saturdays, especially in April – October
  • Any day surrounding long weekends
  • Sundays + Fridays
  • Booking requests that are 6+ months in advance

Lower Demand

A few situations that are considered ‘lower’ demand. These are situations where a photographer may be more willing to discount, customize or take on smaller contracts.

  • November – March
  • Monday – Thursday
  • Bookings <6 months in advance
  • Weekends <3 months in advance – even during peak seasons

So if you want to maximize your chances of finding vendors who can bargain, customize or simply provide discounts, don’t have a wedding during peak time.

Finding a Toronto Wedding Photographer for Under $2000: A Summary

It’s not impossible to find a wedding photographer to work within your budget, but there certainly are some things you need to keep in mind before you go down the route of ‘customizing’ experiences. At the end of the day, is it not better to have an amazing photographer for a portion of the day and adore the photos than to have a mediocre photographer there for 12+ hours producing images that are just ‘okay’?

Only you can make that decision.

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