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Why is Wedding Photography So Expensive?

April 28, 2023

Filed in: Advice

a woman in a wedding dress with a surprised look on her face.

Hey there! So you’re planning your wedding and probably looking for a photographer. But when you start looking at prices, you say to yourself, “OMG! Why is wedding photography so expensive!” I get it; it’s a big investment!

If you consider how important wedding photography is to you and what it takes to deliver it well, wedding photography pricing may not seem so high.

In this article, I’ll explain why wedding photography costs so much and the value you should expect from a professional photographer in exchange for your hard-earned dollars.

Covered in this Article:

  • Why do you value wedding photography?
  • What should you expect from your photographer?
  • What is it worth to have a wedding photographer who meets or exceeds your expectations?
  • What does it take for a photographer to deliver on your priceless expectations?
  • The risks of hiring an amateur or budget-rate wedding photographer
  • Conclusions

Why do you value wedding photography?

Well… your wedding is kind of a big deal. Right? And your photos are the visual record of your wedding day.

In case you haven’t really thought it through, here are some solid reasons to value wedding photography:

  • Your photos will be how you remember your wedding for the rest of your life.
  • Everyone you care about will be right there with you… and one day, some of them will be gone.
  • Your photos are your forever-reminder of how you looked and felt on your wedding day.

With this in mind, we can start to understand why wedding photography is so expensive.

a close up of bride and groom exchanging rings

For something as important as your wedding, what should you expect from a photographer?

Expect a lot.

Your wedding photographer should:

  • add to your wedding day experience and not take away from it.
  • be prepared, professional, kind, talented, experienced, and reassuring.
  • beautifully capture all of the priceless moments .
  • make you look amazing in your photos.
  • give you peace of mind – before, during, and after the wedding – that your they will meet these expectations.

You should expect all of this because it’s your wedding and you deserve it!

What is it worth to have a wedding photographer who meets or exceeds these expectations?

We tend to find the money for things we value most. Whether it’s the car we want, the shoes with the price tag we’re embarrassed to reveal, or even the diamond engagement ring – we find a way to acquire what we really value. And like diamonds, your wedding photos are forever!

Your Wedding Photography Really is Priceless.

What does it take for a photographer to deliver on your priceless expectations?

Turns out, it takes a lot of…

  • Time – managing, marketing, selling, creating, producing, and delivering on your expectations
  • Skill – acquired through years of training and practice
  • Experience – gained over years with the craft and the business
  • Creativity – uniquely matched to your own tastes and preferences
  • Energy and Effort – honing skills, perfecting images, sweating the details
  • Expensive Equipment and Software – cameras, lenses, lights, accessories, computers, monitors, hard drives, backup systems, Photoshop, Lightroom, and a myriad of other tools
  • Business Infrastructure – business systems, insurance, accountants, lawyers, retouchers, and much more
a bride and groom standing in front of a pool at night.

Basically, it takes a great deal of time, energy, and money for a wedding photographer to give you what you expect and deserve. You may have never even imagined just how much it takes.

I’ll break these down to give you an idea of what goes into wedding photography.

Time invested by the photographer

Wedding photographers may have triple-digit hourly billing rates, but they are only billing for a small fraction of their working hours. Most of the week, they are editing, returning calls and emails from clients and vendors, learning new techniques, updating websites, reconciling bank accounts, designing wedding albums, working on marketing campaigns, taking out the trash… They need to do all of that stuff and much more just to keep the lights on and be ready to blow you away with their talent on the wedding day.

You may pay a wedding photographer $5000+ to cover a 10-hour wedding. However, they are not making $500+ per hour. That $5000 is sunk into lots of different hard costs and is spread across the many days of work that go into the images and experience they provide you.

The biggest consumers of a wedding photographer’s time:

  • Customer Service: Meeting and exceeding your expectations takes great care. Photographers invest time in communicating with you throughout the process, answering questions, and making sure they understand your vision.
  • Creation: Wedding photographers spend countless hours crafting and planning the perfect shots for your big day. They scout locations, create shot lists, and develop a timeline to ensure they capture every essential moment. Additionally, they may attend your wedding rehearsal to familiarize themselves with the venue and the flow of events, all to deliver the best possible results.
  • Production: After the wedding, photographers spend a significant amount of time selecting, editing, and retouching the images. This process is meticulous and requires skill and creativity. Once the final images are ready, they spend additional time creating wedding albums, printing photos, or preparing digital galleries to deliver a polished and professional final product.
  • Education and Training: To stay competitive in the industry, wedding photographers must constantly hone their skills and keep up with the latest technologies and techniques. This involves attending training sessions, workshops, and conferences to learn from industry experts and improve their craft.
  • Marketing: To keep the business thriving, photographers need to invest time in marketing their services. This includes creating and maintaining a professional website, managing social media accounts, attending bridal shows, and networking with other wedding vendors. All these efforts help them showcase their work and connect with potential clients like you.
  • Helping you book them (i.e. Sales): Before you book your photographer, they need to convince you that they are the right choice for you. This often involves calls, emails, meeting with you, presenting their portfolio, discussing their photography style, and customizing packages to fit your needs. This process can be time-consuming, as photographers strive to build trust and rapport with you.
a couple of women standing next to each other.

Ok, that covers where a wedding photographer’s time goes. What else does it take to be priceless?

Skills needed by the photographer

A professional wedding photographer has spent years acquiring the skills necessary to consistently create beautiful images. An inexperienced photographer without the necessary skills could leave you with a lifetime of regret. True professionals continually build on their skills through education, countless hours of practice, and staying up-to-date with the latest techniques and technologies.

Experience needed by the photographer

An experienced wedding photographer has seen it all and is able to roll with the unexpected circumstances that inevitably come up at every wedding. They’ve learned how to adapt to different lighting conditions, work with a wide range of personalities, and know how to make every look and feel good. This experience is crucial in ensuring that your wedding day runs smoothly and your photos turn out beautifully, no matter what challenges may come their way.

Creativity you want your photographer to have

You want a wedding photographer with a creative vision that is uniquely matched to your own tastes and preferences. You are choosing a specific photographer because you know that their creativity and their personality is the right fit for you. This is a  very custom choice and it is has great value to you.

Energy and Effort expended by the photographer

Wedding photography is both physically and mentally demanding. Photographers put in long hours on their feet, often carrying heavy equipment, remaining vigilant so they don’t miss one important moment. They also invest significant mental energy into honing their skills, perfecting their images, and sweating the details. This dedication to their craft is what sets professional wedding photographers apart and ensures they deliver exceptional results.

Expensive Equipment and Software

A professional wedding photographer needs expensive state-of-the-art tools to deliver you the best images. This includes high-end cameras, a variety of lenses, lighting equipment, and accessories like tripods and much more. In addition, they use powerful computers, monitors, and software such as Photoshop and Lightroom to edit and enhance your photos. These tools are essential for creating stunning images, but they come at a significant cost.

Business Infrastructure of a legit photographer

Running a successful photography business involves more than just taking great photos. There’s a whole infrastructure behind the scenes that supports the photographer in delivering a seamless experience for you. This includes business systems for managing bookings and invoicing, insurance to protect both the photographer and their clients, accountants and lawyers to ensure legal and financial compliance, and retouchers to help perfect the final images.

In addition to these services, there are numerous hard costs that contribute to the overall cost of wedding photography services. These expenses include rent for studio or office space, auto expenses such as fuel, maintenance, and insurance, business insurance policies, software licenses and subscriptions, and the purchase of computer hardware, which must be fast and efficient to keep up with the demands of editing high-resolution images.

Wedding photographers also need to continually maintain a professional wardrobe to look their best at your wedding and respect the formality of your event. All of these elements play a crucial role in ensuring that the photographer can deliver a top-notch experience and high-quality images for your special day.

Soft Costs you may not have considered

Being a great wedding photographer that exceeds your expectations requires more than just the hard costs of gear and services. There are also soft costs that are very real.

Time away from family: A wedding photographer often works long and irregular hours to accommodate the needs of their clients. This often results in time spent away from their own family and personal life. A wedding photographer doesn’t really have a weekend.

A physically grueling job: Wedding photography is a physically demanding profession. Photographers spend long hours on their feet with few breaks, often carrying heavy equipment.

a man and a woman sitting on a couch.

The risks of hiring an amateur or budget-rate wedding photographer

While it may be tempting to cut corners and hire an amateur or cheap wedding photographer to save money, there are several risks to consider before making this decision.

Lack of experience and professionalism

Amateur photographers may lack the experience and professionalism needed to capture the key moments and deliver a polished and professional product. They may not have the expertise to navigate unexpected challenges such as difficult lighting or a change in schedule.

Poor quality equipment

Cheap photographers may not have access to high-quality equipment, which could result in blurry or poorly lit images. This could also mean that they are not able to capture certain shots that require specific lenses or lighting equipment.

Low-quality images and editing

Amateur photographers may not have the skills or tools needed to deliver high-quality images and editing. This could result in poorly edited photos that lack the necessary brightness, contrast, or color balance, making them unusable or of poor quality.

Inadequate backup equipment

Professional wedding photographers always have backup equipment in case of any technical issues or equipment failures. Amateurs or cheap photographers may not have this luxury, which could result in missed shots or a complete loss of images if their equipment fails.

No insurance coverage

Professional wedding photographers typically carry liability insurance to protect themselves and their clients in case of any accidents or damages. Amateurs or cheap photographers may not have this type of coverage, which could leave both parties vulnerable in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

Overall, while amateur or cheap wedding photography may seem like a good way to save money, it comes with several risks that could result in disappointment or disaster. It’s important to carefully consider the value of hiring a professional photographer with the necessary experience, skills, and equipment to deliver a beautiful and memorable product that will last a lifetime.

a woman in a wedding dress holding a bouquet of flowers.


Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, and the photographs are the visual record of that special day. A professional wedding photographer is worth the investment because they have the skills, experience, and equipment necessary to deliver high-quality photographs that you will cherish for a lifetime.

The price of wedding photography is not only representative of the time spent on the day of the wedding, but also the many hours of preparation and post-production, as well as the deep investment in equipment, skills, and business infrastructure.

So, while it may be tempting to save money by hiring an amateur or cheap photographer, it’s so important to carefully consider the risks and value of hiring a professional to capture your special day.

I hope this sheds a little light on why good wedding photographers charge what they do.

If you have any questions about wedding photography pricing, please leave them in the comments below. I would be happy to respond!

If you’re interested talking to me about my services and pricing, please visit Jim Vetter Photography to see my portfolio and say “hello!”

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