January 3, 2023
So you’re planning a wedding, and have either been stalking that photographer and dreaming that they’d someday be able to photograph your day but the thing is… You’re on a budget and you have no idea how to allocate your finances to book them.
Whether you live in San Antonio, Texas, Seattle, Washington or New York, New York, the reality is, it doesn’t matter how much you think you make (or don’t) we are all working off a budget with our finances – it really just comes down to a couple of easy factors to get your dream photographer booked for your special day!
The first thing you want to figure out is how long you have until your wedding. Most high end photographers get booked up to 2-3 years out (sometimes even further into the future!). So if you just got engaged, now is the time to secure your photographer (and venue, but that’s for another blog). If you have a good amount of time before your wedding date, you have a higher chance of being able to set the money aside you’ll need for your ideal photographer.
Many high end photographers can be booked for a retainer fee, meaning you don’t have to pay in full to secure them for your wedding. Depending on the company, they’ll have either payment plan options for the remaining balance to be paid in full BY your wedding date, or some even have options to just have a set low monthly rate you pay, until your package is paid in full even after your wedding day. The second and extremely important step to take is reaching out to the photographer asap after you get engaged to see if they’re still available for your day, and also what their payment options are. Some photographers throw in complimentary sessions or products for booking a certain amount of time before your wedding day, so ask about all the payment options they offer to decipher what will work best with what you would like captured leading up to your wedding day and on your wedding day.
Do not ask for a discount, I repeat, do NOT ask for a discount. (Be honest – you’d laugh at your boss if he or she asked you to put in a 40 hour work week for 25-50% less than your normal pay. You might not even be willing to go down 5% less even! While a professional isn’t going to laugh at you, just keep in mind how you’d feel about working at a discount when speaking to your photographer. And here’s a pro tip for step 3 – ask if they offer packages that come with products, or if products are a separate fee (i.e. an album, canvas prints, digital download,etc). You can sometimes save hundreds, if not thousands on purchasing a package up front that includes products, vs. having to order them all individually after the wedding. Professionals tend to offer design services of some kind that help you plan portrait art walls in your home that you would want to order products for, such as a print or canvas collage.
And the 4th and final step is make sure you actually LOVE the style of their work. The most expensive photographer is the one that takes photos that you absolutely hate. I’ll repeat that one more time – the most EXPENSIVE photographer is the one who takes photos you absolutely hate. You knew on your wedding day, you didn’t have orange or purple skin, but that quick edit by a cheap photographer that you “saved money” on is going to make it look otherwise. Yikes. And I hate to sound doomsday over here – but once your wedding day is over, it’s over.
Due to copyright laws for digital works, most editors or professional photographers aren’t going to feel comfortable re-editing or trying to “fix” bad edits you hated even if you are willing to pay. I can’t tell you how many brides I’ve had to turn down to fix bad photos by another photographer who hoped I could get their photos to look like my portraits. I won’t take a risk of potentially being taken to court over altering images I have absolutely no rights to, and by doing something I know isn’t legal. What you thought was “saving” you money (i.e. going the route of a hobby photographer who only charges around 1k), can cost you heartache, stress, more time and even more money as you try to find solutions to fix the photos or even have to just hire another photographer to take post wedding photos that you’ll actually want to print and frame on your wall.
Photography is a luxury, but it’s also an investment that lasts lifetimes. Your home, car, everything you own is going to need to be replaced long before safely stored digital images.
If this advice helped, or if you have any questions – leave them in the comments and I’ll respond. 🙂
As always, have the loveliest day and we’ll talk again soon!