Wedding Photography Budget Tips (part 2)
Advice from some of the best wedding photographers in Toronto
We had the pleasure of interviewing some of the best wedding photographers in Toronto. We asked them for some commonly overlooked things couples should remember when budgeting for their wedding photos. Here’s what they had to share:
“I can’t speak for other photographers, but for my own couples, there are rarely any overlooked added costs. Usually, at the contract signing, we would have chatted about prints, photos on DVD, engagement session, guest book, wedding album, parents albums, thank you cards, or cost of additional hours if they are needed, thus the cost is very well laid out. If the couples are unsure if they need certain items or services at the contract signing, we usually write in optional items into the contract so the cost is locked in and the couple has potential additional cost certainty if they find they need it down the road.
The only other thing the couples realistically may need to budget for would be the cost of a photography permit as some location requires permits, and it is industry standard for the couples to secure the permit.”
“Most wedding magazines tell you to budget 10% of your total cost towards your wedding photographer but this usually only gets you beginning and non-experienced photographers if you are planning a smaller or less extravagant wedding. Although budgets are important, look for your favourite photographers first before you have a number in mind… see what they charge, and compare them as per the packages they provide. Then look at how to incorporate your photographer into your budget. Perhaps an hour or two less, or leave behind the fancy leather album. Your images from your photographer are not only going to remind you of your day but in many cases, they will mold and shape your memories in the years to come. Also, if you love a particular photographer, get their availability first before you set the wedding date. Unless you have a particular day in mind, it’s best to see if your venue, officiant, and photographer have availability in common and then choose one of those dates instead of picking a date and then finding out your favourite vendors are already booked!”
“Wedding photography is expensive. If you feel as though you had no idea what it would cost, or that you’ve unfortunately found out that your budget for photos was way too low to get the caliber of photographer you want, you are not alone! I hear this all the time. Wedding photography is a big part of the budget most times. It doesn’t matter if you’re spending $200, $2000 or $20,000, if that’s what you have to spend, the chances are to you “it’s a lot of money”.
Keep in mind this is one of the few areas that your dollars will last. The fancy flowers? They’re done in a week. That cool limo ride, over in twenty minutes. But your photos? They are going to outlast you! If you make the right choice here, every time you look back at them, you’re going to have fond memories, and occasionally think, wow these cost a lot, but I’m glad I spent the extra. If you go the other route and don’t quite spend enough? Chances are you will still have spent quite a bit, but instead, every time you look at them, you’re going to regret it, it’s like a dagger to the heart. It seems that people like to share with photographers their own personal wedding photography heartbreak, it’s all too common. Don’t let it happen to you! Don’t blow your budget wide open, and sink yourself into a black hole of debt to get “the best” but stretch. See where you can trim a bit of fat that won’t last, to get that photographer you love.”
“Many photographers charge for a certain amount of hours. If you plan on having your photographer there for twelve hours, make sure you understand the price for such a timeframe and expect to pay hourly rates for any additional hours. Print products are not included with typical packages so ensure you know what you want and don’t assume that an album or prints can be requested for free after the wedding collection is delivered to you. Think about what kind of physical print products you’d like from your collection and see what the pricing is for those items.”
“Often people dismiss photography as someone taking a photo. They are trying to find someone that fits within their timeline. While this is important, you have to give the photographer room to advise on what’s going to work. Make sure you find out what exactly is included in their packages. Does it include HST, are there any additional costs for extra hours, does it include an album, how many pages, etc. You can be honest and ask for a final cost and a detailed list of services and products included. In my own business, I always take the time to clearly explain each detail of the services and costs so that my clients aren’t surprised by any extra costs or hidden fees.”
“In general, the cost of a wedding photographer should be a minimum of 10% of the overall wedding budget. This will vary as couples consider how important photography is in relation to other elements of the wedding. One couple’s photography budget might differ from another couple’s even if they have the same wedding budget. It can also depend on how much help they have from family and friends and how “DIY” their wedding may be. We realized when we got married that we had to stretch our photography budget since it was so important to us. Couples should be prepared to set aside a little more of their budget than they might have initially planned.
They should keep in mind that the photography is the way that all the major details of the wedding are remembered, so it’s one of the most important considerations. There are many ways to make room in the wedding budget for photography. One suggestion would be to have more candles and a smaller wedding cake if you already have tons of flowers and a late night dessert option.
It’s important for couples to consider the importance of having 2 photographers. Having only 1 photographer may seem to lower the cost but then the couple may be forced to add hours of coverage to the wedding day and also have to accept limited coverage throughout the day. They should look at the overall timeline of the day and decide whether or not they really need that extra end of the night party coverage, or if they simply need just a little bit of the dancing captured. They should also consider whether the photographer needs to cover the getting ready shots or start their coverage at the ceremony instead. On average, most of our couples commission us for 10 hours of coverage.
Couples should also look at real weddings instead of just styled shoots. While styled shoots can be beautiful, a couple should see a representation of the kinds of photos that are captured under realistic lighting and natural surroundings.
It’s important to meet with photographers who have experience and who can offer the couple timeless photos. While various trends come and go, the photos they look back on should always remain tasteful and elegant.”
“Some important budget considerations include:
1) One or two photographers? Definitely two! First of all, photographers back up each other to make sure you do not miss a thing and to and to ensure they capture all the special moments of your Big Day. Secondly, with two photographers, your photos will be much more diverse and interesting. You will be surprised how the same moment, captured from different spots and with different lenses can look so different!
2) Wedding budgets can be tricky, and when it comes to photography, consider this: the cake will be eaten, and you will only wear that gorgeous white gown once. The only thing that will last for years will be your wedding photographs and video. If photography is important for you but you are on a budget, consider going with six hours of amazing photo coverage that you will really love, rather than with twelve hours of something possibly mediocre and of poor quality.
3) We highly recommend couples have an engagement photo session. Not only you will have a set of beautiful images you can use for guest signing books or ‘Save the Day’ cards, but you will know for sure that you happy with the style, quality, and personality of your photographer.”
“We always present our pricing up front so couples know in advance what they’re committing to. However, we realized that couples sometimes don’t realize that they can include props for photos on their wedding days. Some props are more expensive than others but what’s more important is how these props tell a story about the couple. A while ago we had a couple who hired an artist to paint different backdrops of the countries they’ve been to and incorporated them with the in-house polaroid photo booth they have. It was such a fun idea that the guests enjoyed and the couple were very creative in the process. Don’t be afraid to bring and include props on the day of, your wedding photos should be different because of this and you’ll love them even more at the end of the day!”
“With photography – as with many other things – you really do get what you pay for. At the end of the day, the photographs become the visual record of your wedding. Family photos become heirlooms that are being passed on and appreciated. You’re not paying the photographer to simply take photos at your wedding. You’re hiring them for their style and vision and trusting their experience and skill to document one of the most significant events in your lives.”
“Wedding photography represents a high percentage of your overall wedding budget. This is simply because it’s a very skill-based position with high equipment value and years of training and experience to be a good photographer. But for some, the bottom line is price (which I get, I’m a to-be-groom myself). Here’s where the overlook happens. We will have customers only ask for the ceremony and photo session covered to try to save a few dollars. Yes, it’s true it can take approx. 50% of the total cost of your photographer, but at what REAL cost. Although you’re able to dip the total wedding cost down, you may be missing out on memories and family heirlooms that will never be able to be recreated! This goes for videography too! Although it’s a big cost now, you will NEVER regret your decision to capture these impossible-to-replace memories when you are celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary. (“…Remember ‘selfies’”). Don’t go for ‘cheap’ and never never never say you don’t ‘need’ videography – you will almost certainly regret that decision after your wedding day. (Yes, photos are a great way to remember a second in the day, but what was your father’s speech about again?)
Although I’m a bit biased, I find that your wedding day goes by so fast with so many moments that seem to vanish, video and photos become so important for the sake of recalling your day. Don’t worry, money will come back – your wedding memories won’t.”
“There are a few things to consider when budgeting for wedding photography. If you are planning to travel to a park for photos, you will most likely require a permit. Photo permits are booked directly through the city and range between $150 – $200 in cost. Also, find out whether your photographer charges for travel and parking fees. And, if your photographer is staying through the reception, budget for a vendor meal.”
“Make sure the photography package you choose includes everything you want and not a whole lot of stuff you don’t need. It’s great to have your photographer create your albums and printed images, we do a great job. However, there is no reason or excuse anymore for a couple not to own their wedding photos. If you have all the full resolution images then you can accomplish much of what you want on your own for less money.”
“You’re likely to forget your DJ’s music; you’re probably not going to remember the taste of the food that was at your wedding… But over and over again, you ARE going to see the beautiful images from your amazing “Big Day”. You will have those precious moments captured by your wedding photographer and they will last forever in your memories.”
“Couples are notorious for underestimating the amount of time photos take. There are situations where lighting and set up is required, or family needs to travel or meet at a specific location. Photos ALWAYS take more time than you think, so don’t sell yourself short. We can create magic but can’t time travel, so budget wisely.”