We’ve seen a lot of panic-inducing posts online about how couples need to book their vendors immediately if they want to have a chance of their dream wedding—even if their big day isn’t happening for two more years. These posts raised our blood pressure. We hated them. Then we thought about all of the couples planning a wedding celebration worthy of their love, and we got a little upset. Okay, we actually got very upset.
We’re here to set the record straight about hiring your wedding photographer. Everything you need to know from wedding photographer cost to the reasons why you should hire a professional. We’ve also included the timeline of when you should hire your wedding photographer—because that seems to be adding to the confusion.
If you’re new around here, hi. We’re Junebug Weddings. We’re so excited that you’re here. Our goal is to help demystify the wedding planning process and make sure that your wedding is the best day of your life. We do that with a mix of Junebug-approved wedding vendors and wedding planning information. No question is too big or too small for us to help. We just love love. So, with that in mind, let’s get started with what you need to know about hiring your wedding photographer.
Wedding Photographer Hiring Timeline
First things first, get your wedding budget together. You can’t plan for a wedding photographer cost without knowing your budget! Once you’ve decided on your budget, the date, and your venue or general location, it’s time to start reaching out to photographers you admire. Depending on when you start planning, this could be 13 months in advance. That’s perfectly fine. Most professional wedding photographers do book that far in advance and they’ll appreciate the gesture of you reaching out early. Early planning is always a good idea.
For some couples, they have one very specific photographer they want to work with. The date they say “I do’s” matters less to them than their photographer. If that’s how you feel, reach out to them as early as possible for their availability.
While there isn’t necessarily a rule about when to reach out to your wedding photographer, the sooner you do it, the better. If you’re planning on a shorter timeline, be prepared to speak to a few different photographers before you confirm the one. These folks are in high demand.
Choosing Your Wedding Photographer
Wait, what if you don’t already have a photographer in mind? No sweat! We’ve got you covered. You can choose your wedding photographer with these six easy steps. Then, start reaching out to them. Websites like Junebug Weddings’ Vendor Directory make it easy to submit requests to wedding photographers you admire. Many of these sites will estimate the wedding photographer cost, though most won’t.
You can also utilize inspiration from social media like Instagram and Pinterest to look through the portfolios of wedding photographers that you like. If a specific style of photography is calling out to you, be sure to mention that when you speak with them.
A Few Questions For Your Wedding Photographer
- Does your business have insurance? Not every venue requires this, but many do require that all vendors have proof of insurance
- What is your expected turnaround time for our photos?
- Can we see a sample of a full wedding gallery?
If you’re unsure of what else to ask, we’ve got a more comprehensive list of questions to ask your wedding photographer here.
What Does a Wedding Photographer Cost?
As you’ve likely noticed during your wedding planning journey, the wedding photographer cost depends! But that answer isn’t helpful. So let’s break it down. Your wedding photographer cost will range anywhere from $600 to $10,000. Again, that is quite a range and isn’t very helpful. Here are some of the details that go into the price.
- a pre-wedding photography session — some photographers offer this as a way to get to know you before your wedding day while still documenting your love story. Your photographer isn’t just another vendor, and they might want to know your relationship beforehand
- a second shooter — the day goes by fast. Some photographers will want to bring a second shooter to ensure they don’t miss a single moment
- editing — editing the thousands of photos captured from your wedding day takes time. You don’t want the raw images, those won’t ever be as brilliant as the ones your photographer spends time editing
- experience — the experience that your photographer brings to the table makes a difference. Keep in mind that they’re their own small business and they price themselves accordingly, so you don’t need to negotiate with them
- travel — if you’re hiring a photographer that isn’t local or you’re opting to bring a local one with you to your destination wedding, you should expect to pay for their travel. If you don’t discuss this, they’ll still likely include it in their contract
- your wedding size — an elopement with three people (you, your partner, and the photographer) will cost less than a large wedding with hundreds of guests. When your wedding photographer asks for the size of your wedding, don’t be caught off guard
- hours of wedding day coverage — the amount of time your wedding photographer will spend with you impacts how much they’ll charge. Capturing images of you getting ready with the wedding party, the ceremony, the arrival of your family and friends, portraits, dinner, the reception, and your final exit all take time
When Should I Expect Images
This will also depend on your photographer and the season you’re getting married in. If you’re getting married in peak wedding season—typically May to October—your photographer will be shooting weddings and couple sessions nearly every weekend. They plan accordingly, but that’s a lot of images for them to edit each week.
Most photographers will send a handful of sneak peek images in the weeks immediately after your wedding. But it’s normal for it to take around six to eight weeks to get your wedding images back. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Take this time to enjoy your honeymoon and settle into married life. Then, when you get that exciting email from your photographer that your images are ready, grab a box of tissues and get ready to relive every second of that day. It’s worth the wait. We promise.
Whether you’re planning on eloping in Las Vegas or hosting a 300-person destination wedding, there’s a lot of work that goes into planning your perfect wedding. Once you’ve confirmed your wedding photographer, it’s time to get your wedding planner. Get prepared for those conversations with our wedding planning timeline. Above all, don’t forget to enjoy the process. And in case you haven’t heard it enough, congratulations!