About · Press · Contact · Write For Us · Top Personal Finance Blogs
Featured In:

20 Ways to Get Cheap Professional Wedding Photographers & Videographers on a Budget

By Casey Slide

wedding photographer brideMy wedding photographers captured the memories of my wedding day perfectly. They understood what kind of photographs I wanted, and because of that, we were able to work well together during the wedding planning, the wedding itself, and the picture ordering process. I had a great time working with the team, and they did a wonderful job with my photos.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the same experience with my wedding videographer. In order to save some money, my husband and I avoided hiring a professional. Instead, we asked a friend’s parent to tape the ceremony and reception. While there is a rough video of my ceremony, there is no reception video, just background noise. I guess that is the price we paid for giving the video camera to the first person who volunteered!

Hiring an amateur is one way to save money on your wedding photos and on your wedding video, but there are plenty of other ways to cut corners on the big day – without sacrificing quality, or your memories. Here are 20 ways to save money on your wedding photos and on your wedding video.

Save Money on Wedding Photographers and Videographers

1. Have an Off-Season Wedding on an Any Day Except Saturday
Just like with wedding venues, you can save a lot of money on photographers and videographers by having your wedding during the off-season, and also by having your wedding on any day but Saturday. Photographers and videographers are in high demand every Saturday, especially in the summer, and are able to charge more for working on Saturdays in the summer months. By having an off-season and/or weekday wedding, you will also have a better selection of photographers and videographers to choose from, because more of them will be available.

2. Hire a Photographer and Videographer as Part of a Package Deal
You may be able to save money if you can get a package deal for a photographer and a videographer together. Compare rates for hiring as part of a package deal versus hiring separately.

3. Get Multiple Quotes and Negotiate
Get multiple quotes in order to negotiate the price for your wedding photos and wedding video. Make sure that you get all the details about costs from each photographer and videographer, including number of photos and hours spent taking photos at the wedding and reception. If one photographer gives a free engagement photo with their wedding package, or will put together a slideshow of the bride and groom for arriving guests, make sure to negotiate that with the other photographers as well.

4. Limit the Time a Photographer/Videographer Will Work During Your Wedding
Photographers and videographers generally charge by the hour. So by limiting the number of hours they will work at your wedding, you can save more money. You could hire them for just the ceremony, just the reception, or for the ceremony and the first hour of the reception. You could also supplement these photos with photos from a student photographer or with photos submitted by wedding guests. If you decide to pursue this option, make sure the total number of hours is specified in the package that you purchase.

5. Use a Photographer or Videographer Who Works from Home
A photographer or videographer who works out of a studio will charge more because they have to pay for the use of the studio. On the other hand, a photographer or videographer who works from a home office will not have to pay the extra overhead and thus will not pass those costs along to you.

6. Check for Hidden Fees
Be wary of any hidden fees that your photographer or videographer may tack on to your bill, such as mileage. One thing I really liked about my photographer was that she did not charge mileage, even though it was a long drive from my ceremony to my reception. It could have potentially added $100 to my photography bill.

wedding photographer bride camera

7. Hire a Student Photographer or Someone New to the Business
You can save a lot of money by hiring someone who is not a professional or who has not been a professional for very long. Unlike hiring a friend who knows little about photography, by hiring a student or a new professional, you are getting someone who has already had extensive training and experience. For my wedding, I hired a photographer who was new to the business, but I made sure to check out her work prior to hiring her to ensure that I would be happy with her photos.

8. Limit the Number of Photography and Videography Assistants
Some photographers and videographers bring assistants to their shoots to help capture every moment. But when assistants are present, they will cost you money. They need to be paid, and they will usually require a meal at the reception, which will increase the cost of your wedding food and drink. Assistants can be a good thing, but just make sure the number of assistants that accompany the photographer and videographer is reasonable, or included in a package rate.

9. Ask a Friend
Chances are that you know at least one person who either knows a little bit about photography or knows someone else who is an amateur photographer. See if this person is willing to help you out as a wedding gift to you, or for a discounted rate. One thing to keep in mind is that by asking a friend, you will not be getting professional pictures. But if this is what you can afford, it is still a viable option. Also, make sure your friend is okay with working at your wedding instead of just being a regular guest. The same applies for a videographer. Even when working with a friend, negotiating the costs and having an agreed upon rate for the photos and the wedding video is a good idea.

10. Advertise Your Need for a Photographer or Videographer on Facebook
Advertise your need for a photographer and videographer to all 300 of your Facebook friends, even if you aren’t planning on inviting them all to your wedding. An old acquaintance of yours who is a photography buff may be thrilled to be part of your big day, even if they have not seen you since middle school.

11. Put Disposable Cameras on the Reception Tables
Don’t expect to get award-winning photos, but do expect to have a good laugh. What I like about putting disposable cameras on the wedding reception tables for the guests to use is that you get pictures of people that you will not get from a professional photographer. It’s a great way to get some candid shots.

12. Have Your Guests Send Their Pictures to You
At my reception, a great friend of mine and her husband gave us a small photo album with pictures from our wedding just hours after the ceremony. I loved getting the album right away, and I loved seeing their photos of our special day.

Save Money on Wedding Photos

13. Get the Rights to the Photos
In order to print and post your photos online, you need to obtain the rights and proofs for your photos. Most photographers will either sell the rights to you or offer the rights with a photography package. Negotiate the cost for the rights of your photos when you are discussing the rates for the wedding photos package. Keep the document that says you own the rights to your pictures. You can always print your wedding photos later, when money isn’t so tight.

wedding couple picture frame

14. Make Your Own Album
Once you obtain the rights to your pictures, you can get them printed anywhere. You can make an album for a fraction of the cost of having your photographer make one for you. Unfortunately, at the time that I got married, making your own photo album on photography websites such as Shutterfly was not very popular. I ended up spending $1,700 on something that I could have done for $100. Today, DIY wedding albums can look very upscale, with professional binding, a table of contents, and a dedication.

15. Frame Your Favorites
If you feel that an album would not be looked at often enough to justify its purchase, simply frame your favorite photos instead. Remember, once you have the rights to your wedding photos, you can get your pictures printed wherever and whenever you’d like.

16. Purchase a Smaller-sized Photo
When you get your pictures printed by your photographer, they will edit them and have them printed at a very high quality resolution. To keep the costs down, choose a smaller-sized photo to be printed. For example, choose a 5×7 sized photo instead of a 8×10.

Save Money on Wedding Videos

17. Request Simple Video Editing
The more tricks a video editor has up their sleeve, the more he or she can charge you. Ask for a simple DVD without all the bells and whistles to keep the cost at a minimum.

wedding video

18. Get the Raw Footage
Instead of having your videographer edit hours of your wedding video down to less than an hour, ask for the raw footage. This way you will have every moment of your wedding on film, instead of losing moments that may be important to you. You can then have the footage edited at some other time.

19. Have Someone You Know Edit the Raw Footage
Some people I know love to edit videos, including my husband. See if anyone you know would be interested in helping you out, and as a thank you gift, you can help them purchase new editing software or some gadget they can use for their hobby.

20. Post Portions of Your Video Online
You don’t have to make copies of your wedding video for everyone in your family. Instead, you can post the most important moments of your wedding online for the most important people in your life.

Final Word

It is really important to document your wedding in some form. You will want to look back on your special day, and one day, your children and grandchildren may also enjoy looking at your wedding photos and your wedding video. Whether you go with a top-notch professional photographer and videographer, or just ask a friend to take a few photos for you, document your wedding. You will never regret it.

Did you use professional or amateur photographers at your wedding? How did the results turn out, and what other tips would you include on this list?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Casey Slide
Casey Slide lives with her husband and baby in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.

Related Articles

  • Qualityresults

    my apologies but do you even know what you are talking about. there is not one videographer or photographer worth a grain of salt that will sign over raw data. secondly you hire someone for their work by not having them produce that work defeats the purpose. As for rights to images a correction is required here, any professional photographer will provide printing rights whether within a package or separately but there is a big difference to providing the rights to a photo. Under copyright law the image is protect at the time it is produced and the copyright is held by the person who created the work. Very few if any photographers will isgn this right over again as it the processing is part of their work which is why they were hired in the first place. I believe your article misleads the reader into believing that rights and raw images will just be handed over. I beleive you may want to revisit the topic and speak to professionals who do this for a living. You might be surprised that your information is not properly vetted or completely accessible.

    • Casey Slide

      I’m sure most photographers would love if their clients ordered all their prints through them, but it is just not cost effective for clients. Obviously the quality of professionally edited and printed pictures is better, but with so many company’s on the web, such as Snapfish and Shutterfly, most people are turning to those to have albums made. Photographers are catching on to what their clients want and are selling the rights to the photos to their clients. I bought all my photos from my photographer, my sister bought all of hers, most of my friends buy their photos. With the advancement of technology, professionals have to adjust what they are doing and how they make money from their clients, whether it is charging more for a photo session or charging more for a CD of the photos. Whether you want to call that “printing rights” instead of rights to the photos or copyrights of the photos doesn’t matter much to clients. If they have the ability to print their photos, then they will print their own photos.

      • Donald Dingerson

        Photographers, myself included, will, often times, provide a CD or DVD of edited images (as JPEG) – not the RAW files. No professional photographer wants an amateur editing their RAW files, because when that amateur fails to get a good edit no one will say “They were good pictures before cousin Bobby trashed the edit.” The amateur edits will reflect poorly on the photographer. Further, just because I release the shutter at a wedding it does not mean that image is a keeper, and any professional wants to present their best work, not only for the current client, but also in the hopes of attaining additional clients in the future. Digital is transforming wedding photography and I fully agree that many brides today want the CD or DVD of edited images so they can print them at an online lab. I have no issue with that and have been shooting weddings under that model since about 2006 or 2007. Prints are less and less a concern for me and allowing my clients to print their own images (only after I edit the RAW files of course) works – at the same time brides almost always buy the professionally produced photo album because they understand the value in having the album created by a professional.

    • Miranda Mirsec

      You are so correct Qualityresults…..no self respecting professional photographer would EVER hand over RAW footage and even if by some miracle you got them to release the footage you wouldn’t have any idea what to do with it. Not to mention your home computer system would freeze just trying to open it. Same goes with the advice to make your own album…COME ON if you were to poll 100 couples married in the last year that didn’t get a professional album how many actually have made one. Life gets busy and they will NEVER get around to it. And if by some chance they do…it will NEVER be what it could be if professionally done. Cosco and shutterfly people are not archival! So printing images or books there may seam like a saving but when your kids discover that all the images have faded, stick to glass or fall apart….it just won’t be worth it.

  • Trish

    Great article! I’m not in the market for a wedding photographer or videographer, but I would say that a lot of these ideas could be applied when looking to hire any type of professional. Hiring a writer for an editorial piece for a money saving ezine is a great example. Instead of looking for someone highly experienced in writing, with a sharply honed ability to research their topic in order to provide the target reader with accurate and helpful information, a great deal of money could be saved by hiring Uncle Bob to do it! He has great typing skills, despite the loss of several digits in a freak pruning accident, and he can Google like nobody’s business.

    Really.

    I understand that people are often making wedding day choices with a budget in mind. What baffles me is that after the confetti has been scattered, the cake has been cut, and the music is over the only tangible thing that a couple has from their day is the photos. I would say to cut every single expense possible in order to hire a trusted professional who will capture your day beautifully. There are reasons that experienced pros charge what they charge – not the least of which is the pressure they put on themselves to shoot every single detail and every single moment.

    • Casey Slide

      You are absolutely right in that you pay for what you get. If you pay for an expensive, experienced photographer, you will not be disappointed. But even some couples will cut all the extras and still not be able to afford this type of professional.

      Also, great point about this concept being applicable to other types of professionals!

  • Amy

    Save Save Save, yes that is the way to go until every professional is working for nothing! Yipee!

  • Michael Novoseletsky

    What this article overlooks and often overloads brides with is latent pain. You can go cheap of course with the investment of your own time. But even brides with ample time on their hands can become easily overloaded.

    Many a brides have I known who say after the wedding “I wish I would have just hired a planner or other professional…” What happens is that they are not even looking forward to the wedding at some point and the words “I just want it to be over” have been uttered countless times.

    Certain points such as #13 “getting the rights”. The kicker is that many photographers are not charging you for the method in which your images are being delivered…canvas, album or disc. If you want the disc and the rights it’s likely going to be the same investment as prints or albums because you are investing in the art of the images and not the delivery method of those images.

    Aside from a few points, much of this article would do more damage to a bride searching for a vendor than good…I would highly suggest to stay away from most of this advice unless you do not care about your final results.

  • Sam

    Use your ipod for music instead of hiring a professional DJ. Buy your cake at walmart instead of hiring a professional to do it. While you’re at it use cigar bans for your wedding rings.

  • Kaitlyn

    simple wedding video – a cheap and great videography company imo located in toronto

  • XPentingAMinzing

    This is so true! I chose to go with Sharon Watkins Photography, a photographer new to the business too! She was awesome & edited images as part of my wedding package too. If you are on a budget, I would totally go with a photographer new to the business. Every bride deserves nice photos of her wedding!

  • Rachel MacDonald

    This is poor advice. Very poor. No one will give you raw photo or video, and even if they do, it is illegal for you to alter that work unless expressed in contract.

  • Phil

    Poorly researched article. There are a few useful tips, but they are in amongst dross which doesn’t make any sense in the real world. Brides are thoroughly confused because of articles like this.

    I would suggest that you do some research before posting poorly thought out advice … although I guess you still get your advertising clicks either way so it doesn’t really matter, right?

  • MJSee

    Horrible advice. Hire a student? Ask a friend? My god. How cheap can you be on your wedding day. The one day of your life where you expect everything to be perfect including the images of the day. It’s the same thought that I have seen brides and grooms do with “Ipod” weddings. Hire a professional. Pay a decent fee. Most professionals will negotiate their prices and will always make their contracts clear and precise. There are usually never any “hidden” fees or clauses. As they are always outlines in the contract that you agree to when you sign a contract. A professional photographer by the way to those reading this article, has training, has experience and the job doesn’t end after the day is over. It begins. They have to spend days pouring through the photos they took, then choose the best ones and edit them so they are absolutely perfect. I Spent a month editing photos for one wedding, Spend roughly 8 hours a day going through them and the bride was so happy when she saw them she spent the next year recommending me. Charging a $1000 for 8 hours for 4 weeks is less than minimum wage. And this writer of the article wants you to think that getting someone CHEAPER is better?

    • Rager2sharp

      Yeah but for people that really can’t afford to pay 1000 for pictures because their whole wedding only cost 2000 this isn’t necessarily bad advice. Just because they don’t want to be drowning in debt over one day doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to remember it with pictures.

      • MJSee

        Sorry but if you can’t afford the wedding, then don’t have one. I don’t know where you get $2000 for a wedding. My wedding 4 years ago was $7000 and that was bare minimums. With my photographer being a wedding present paid for by a relative. If your area can have a nice wedding for 2 grand then kudos. If you hire a student or a “friend” take your wedding pics then all you get what you pay for. Wedding snapshots and not professional photos. Any idiot can take snapshots with a camera.

        A professional has the skills to take great photos, has the skills to edit them properly and spends a decent amount of time making those photos something the bride and groom will cherish for the rest of their lives. The author doesn’t point out that your risking bad pics,and unprofessional behavior or worse, a no show with a non professional. You have those risks with a professional but the degree is very much less so than getting a “friend” or student.
        Just because a friend, student or relative has an expensive camera doesn’t mean they will take a great photo either. That is misinformation that is out there. And as well, many professional photographers negotiate their prices to suit the needs of the client. Each client is different and has different requirement. Those package deals you see on photographer’s websites are usually negotiable. If you don’t want those prints, then you can negotiate a price for just the CD-Rom or even a thumb drive of the photographs. The last wedding I did, I spend 8 hours a day for almost a full month to edit the photos. To make sure the lighting was great, there was no dead spaces and with some to give some vintage feel to them at the clients request. So let me show you another way .. Let’s say a photo package is $1000. I take a month usually to edit. That is 8 hours a day during the weekdays. $1000 divided by 4 is $250 divided by 40 hours. That means I just made $6.25 an hour. That is below the minimum wage in both the united states and in Canada. As well as most countries. Now let’s say I was booked every saturday for the year. 52 weeks $52000.00 (would be great!) unfortunately most photographers are not booked for a wedding each week. A busy wedding photography will do maybe half that, maybe a little more. Enough anyway that they could do photography full time. These photographers have numerous cameras,. lenses etc, that cost money which brings down their pay as well.

        Here is another side to look at. Professionalism. Insurance etc. What happens if one of your drunken wedding guests trips over a tripod and breaks the $4000 camera? Will your event insurance cover it? It should. Will your professional photographer’s insurance cover it? It should. Will your “friend” or uncle have the insurance on the equipment? I doubt it. What if that Friend uncle or student gets drunk and insults the bride and ruins the wedding (it’s happened)…. can the happy couple sue the uncle, student or friend for ruining the wedding? Sure… but then you risk causing family feuds, hurt feelings, friendships dying. A professional you don’t have to worry about hurt feelings, or any of the above. You can sue them without losing a friend, relative etc. There are so many, many reasons why to hire a professional. If you can’t afford the costs of a wedding then wait, save your money and have the wedding when you can afford it. Your right about being in debt. Many people are having extravagant weddings with huge numbers of guests and end up spending the next 20 years paying for it. The best advice for this article should have been, if you can’t afford a professional then wait and save your money, because it will be worth it.

        • Cha cha bear

          If you can’t afford a wedding don’t have one honestly mate you need to get with the times. Cause I’m on a tight budget I shouldn’t marry the man I love, a marriage is not about what you can afford on the actual day, the meaning of why we get married is lost in your eyes of making money. SAD!!!!

        • MJSee

          No actually what I meant by “If you can’t afford a wedding then don’t have one” meaning if you can’t afford to have the wedding ceremony with the bells and whistles then don’t. Wait for awhile and save your money. There is a difference between having a nice wedding and just being cheap. This article chooses the cheap side. I’ve seen wedding photos done by non professionals and heard the stories from brides who regret not paying out that extra money for the pro photographer or pro dj. There are tons of horror stories out there for it. Hiring a professional is the cheaper way because they ensure you get the best possible photo’s you will cherish for the rest of your lives. It’s not about me making money, it’s about the best photo’s for the couple for the rest of their lives. And in this day and age you don’t have to spend 2 grand on photos. You can get a decent photographer for $600-$1200 depending on what you want. Saving that $600-$1200 Isn’t saving anything because if you hire a student or some relative who just happens to have an expensive camera means your gambling. And the odds are never in your favor that way. A professional will always negotiate and get you the best photos for your budget. Would you hire a friend to cater your wedding just because they have an expensive stove? Would you hire a student baker to bake the wedding cake? Do you honestly think any real photographer would do a wedding for free to “get exposure”? There are some but, not many. I might have said this previously but I did that when I started out and was warned by other photographers that I wouldn’t get “exposure” because the only exposure people would see was the “free” part. If you can’t afford the wedding then wait. Wait and save your money until you can have one with the bells and whistles you want. Waiting doesn’t cost you anything and can even save you a buck. Plus you have to remember those just aren’t YOUR photos. Relatives will want copies as well. Those relatives will be expecting professional quality photos. Not snapshots from Uncle Harry.

      • PhotoZealous

        Sure when you want to give advice on hiring cheap don’t use the term “professional”.. it is a disgrace to the actual professionals in the field.

    • Brittany

      This is wonderful advice!!! We CHOSE not to spend a lot not because we didn’t have it but bc of a personal decision. Please don’t be rude

      • Gryphyn34

        That’s fine. If you wish to save money. Go for it. I’m saying the advice is actually bad because it encourages people not to hire professionals and encourages them to use a relative or a friend who happens to have an expensive camera. Or a student who doesn’t know zip about wedding photography. Not only is it cheap and you risk bad photos or bad service from the photographer at the wedding, your risking the lifetime of memories that are part of those photos. It’s also very insulting. Many people out there have expensive cameras but can’t take a photo worth a damn. A professional has the experience and the equipment to make your wedding photos something to remember. If you chose not to spend money on a photographer and instead relied on a non professional, then all I can say is … you get what you paid for. Your relatives who are expecting professional photos will be disappointed. There are better ways to save money on a wedding and skimping on photos shouldn’t be one of them. Those are the photos you will cherish for the rest of your lives. You and your family. And the also get handed down through generations. A professional photographer will work within your budget .. the prices are not set prices on their websites. Most photographers will give you the best for the money you have to work with. You don’t need to spend thousands. You can spend hundreds and get a good photographer. I once met a couple who decided to use an IPOD for their wedding instead of hiring a DJ. The couple thought it was a great idea. Their guests hated it. They couldn’t request their favorite songs, they didn’t like the music being played but couldn’t complain to a DJ. The couple oblivious was dissapointed at the end when the Ipod cut out during their dance. You can do a wedding cheaply without skimping on hiring a professional. And if you can’t afford to pay the money out then wait. It costs nothing to wait and you save money during that time you wait so you can spend that money on a professional.

    • Miranda Mirsec

      I agree with you JMsee! I’ve been in the wedding industry for over 8 years and what you said is very true. Cheap and Photography are two words that should NEVER be in the same sentence. I’ve heard sooo many horror stories about what happens when people do go cheap that I could write a book!

    • tabi

      She never said cheaper was better. And yes, we have spent hours turned to weeks on editing, then on to the next job. No reason to treat people who can’t afford our work poorly, is It?

  • Dawn

    Great Article MJSEE is just being Rude

    • Miranda Mirsec

      MJSEE is just being honest. He is hoping to save couple heartache.

  • Miranda Mirsec

    I’m sorry but this is HORRIBLE advice! Not trying to hurt your feelings and I know you mean well but this is the kind of advice that ends up costing couples $$$ and heartache in the long run not to mention deep regret that can’t be undone.

    If a couple is SOOO strapped that they can’t afford professional images then my recommendations are:
    1) Wait and save
    2) skip the frills (do you really need a limo OR candy table)?
    3) Have a smaller wedding—the biggest cost incurred by a couple is the cost of taking care of their guests (food, beverage and venue) Smaller weddings cost less leaving money for things you will cherish forever (like photographs) so skip inviting the entire office, the entire church or people you barely know and stick with those that really matter..close family and friends. Rule of thumb…invite those you would call if you had a baby OR in an emergency.
    4) Rent a dress (if your budget is really small) Skip the $5,000 vera wang shoes or designer dress. What good will it do you to have a gorgeous dress if you will have no archival record of it.
    5) Just like with invite list keep your wedding party small–the more people the greater the cost.
    6) get creative with decoration…flowers are beautiful AND costly so go easy on the flowers. There are a million inexpensive ways to decorate (see Pinterest) Again they will only last a day but your wedding photographs are meant to last for generations.
    7) Off season and weekday weddings can open the door to savings so skip prime venues and days/months most in demand.
    8) Opt for cocktail hours with refreshments rather than a sit down dinner. Buffets can also help save $$. Many restaurants now cater so you CAN feed guests delicious food without breaking the bank!
    9) Have a rehearsal lunch a week before wedding rather than dinner the night before and keep it light. Or better yet invite ONLY those that are in wedding party (remember keep it small) over for dinner at home. If you don’t cook order in and make it a nice intimate gathering. Inviting a large number of people to a restaurant the night before for a sit down dinner and drinks gets costly

    10. Prioritize if photography is important to you then save for it, ask family for help and limit the amount of coverage you invest in. 2 hours of GREAT coverage beats 12 hours of crappy coverage any day.
    NEVER go free, student or friend EVER!!!! And if you must, hire a PROFESSIONAL for at least two hours (ceremony and formals) Trust me this is something you will NOT regret. Leave the “friend” or student for reception candids.

    Bottom line cheap will get you cheap…and if you are ok with that then great but too often I hear how important photographs are to couples then they skimp and go cheap. I heard someone once say “don’t be cheap with your love”…when it comes to photography it couldn’t apply more! Photographs are the single most important keepsake EVER don’t leave it in the hands of a “friend” or student…because let me tell you…a million things can go wrong on your wedding day that won’t be funny the day of your wedding but someday you will laugh about them…bad or missing photographs ARE NOT one of those things. Not having these will NEVER be funny.

    • Marie

      I think you missed the point of the article. If someone is looking to hire an inexpensive photographer or looking at creative options for photography- chances are they’re not having a limo or expensive decorations or a lot of extras or a big cocktail hour. Chances are they are dreaming to get married, are strapped financially with no end in sight, and want to be responsible with the funds they have. Your post sounds rather elitist and clearly you have no understanding for those who need to do a wedding event on a thin wallet.

  • The Pro Photographer

    You know nothing about what your talking about… hire a student photographer ..? what happens if it rains hard or the suns low ?? photographing a wedding is not just taking the Photographs it is dealing with people in all kinds of conditions. Amateur and student photographers are not Pro Photographers. Theres a big difference. Do your research before putting a load of crap together.
    Rant over.

    • Marie

      Your comment is pretty ignorant. If someone is following this advice, it’s because THEY DONT HAVE ANOTHER OPTION. The author is not saying a recent grad will be the same- she’s saying it’s better than grandma taking your pictures if you are financially strapped. Get your head out of your butt.

  • Mark

    Although I’m a wedding photographer myself, I grew up in a town where not many people could afford a wedding, let alone a photographer. Many couples would either put it off or ask family and friends for support, as they were likely on a fixed income that was based off minimum wage. They would usually come to me for advice –respectfully, nobody asked me to perform services for free. Here is what I recommended…

    1) Have two people that the couple deems to be reliable and non-drinkers to take photos. They won’t need a DSLR or impressive camera in general, just something that is reliable and has a full or long battery life –having knowledge of photography and composition helps too. Having people as dedicated photographers also motivates these people to feel responsible for the job. They will likely produce better work if they know that they have this responsibility.

    2) Make sure there are two
    or three people max. Far too often couples just think that more cameras are
    better than one. Unfortunately if all those cameras are firing at once, people
    will be getting in the way and nobody will actually get good shots where
    everyone is looking at the same camera. Even as a wedding photographer I often
    shoot with a 2nd shooter to get the shots that I simply cannot get. Two is also
    a good number since one person may get ill, drop the camera, or somehow become
    incapable of shooting the rest of the evening.

    3) Either announce it yourself, or have the MC announce the evening’s photographers and ask politely that nobody get in their way during the ceremony or reception. As a wedding photographer I often request this too if I notice a lot of people brought their iPads or other toys.

    4) Make sure they give you their memory cards at the end of the night. This is important, as that’s the easiest thing to get erased or lost if your friends don’t have a workflow.

    This definitely won’t produce results anywhere near what a professional can do. Hiring a professional photographer is a gamble, yes. But hiring the right photographer will be able to translate what your ideas are for your wedding into photographs. They all are a little bit different and those differences are what make them valuable.

    I don’t think offering advice like this will hurt the industry –most people who would resort to these standards would otherwise not hire a photographer anyway. I’ve had two friends follow this advice and one of the photographers at one of their weddings ended up becoming my assistant for a season and is now my second shooter.

    • tabi

      Excellent advice. And you’re right, it won’t hurt us a bit. Yet, so many are so butt hurt over it. Keep on being honest. Its refreshing.

  • Sohail

    Some of the ideas are great specially for those who aren’t able to afford a PROFESSIONAL wedding photographer. The points author really missed out were items like your floral arrangement will be in the trash, the food you served will be in the tunnel somewhere, and the venue you rented will be returned to the owner. There are only 1 thing that will be passed down as family heirloom and it’ll be your wedding photos.

  • omnivor

    Cheap, reliable and skilled. Pick two.

  • PhotoZealous

    I wish you knew what you’re talking about… please don’t follow this horrible advice. You will end up with disappointing results… there are ways to save money in a wedding and most people look at cutting photography costs when other than your marriage the only thing that will stay for life are the photographs and videos from your special day!

  • Jammy Pens

    Wedding photography is not something that should be left to a student or someone that it is trying to start out. Your wedding is a once in a lifetime event and once its done, there is no redoing it. There is no second chance when it comes to a wedding. The advise in the article is a lot of BS. I personally listened to advice like this when I got married and now 15 years later, I have no wedding photos. The person we “hired” was taking photography classes, but they had no idea what the pressure of a wedding day was like. They took 10 rolls of film and not a single photograph turned out. No offense, but your tips are way off.

    • tabi

      The day of film turning to image is kinda moot. Anyone can point and shoot. It might not look perfect but they will have memories. The advice is not horrible, if people can’t afford to pay a photgrapher. if you can afford it, you should hire a professional.

      I’m a professional and I offer low budget options but it’s hard to do, when I’m booked with full weddings. If you want a budget photographer, choose weekday or off season. As for a 2 hour shoot and ceremony only. Many will accept, most won’t offer. Ask for only the best images to be edited professionally. Plenty of options.

  • WinterWrens

    I appreciate this list and do have a few friends that do photography and have the whole pro setup.

    I’m a little annoyed by these comments, though. They are incredibly haughty, elitist and short-sighted. Most of them come off as though they are written by wedding photographers who have a chip on their shoulder because people over the years have exclaimed at their costs and they are so used to jumping to defend themselves. I wonder if you all think that the people who are seeking to save money are just money grubbers out to pinch pennies. Some people do not have help with their weddings and they simply can’t afford $2,000 or much, much more for a photographer with all the bells and whistles. I see so many wedding blogs that make absolutely no mention of price whatsoever but exclaim over these elaborate events. I wish I was lucky enough to be a bride for whom expense was no consideration, however I and I’m sure many other people are not so lucky. I am making my wedding dress, putting together my own florals and baking my cake. No it will not be in Brides magazine, and yes I do wish I could afford the kind of wedding that could be, but my partner and I are poor. We have to make choices about where we spend our money, it isn’t just handed to us by our parents, and we would rather put the money towards a buying our first home and starting our life together than having slightly fancier pictures.

    To be clear, I don’t think this article or any other is suggesting that professional photography is not worthwhile or is even overpriced. Much like journalists of today are infinitely more talented than the average Joe blogger yet are undervalued in their profession, I have no doubts that professional photography would be the optimal choice for pictures on my wedding day and I also don’t doubt that the prices that many charge are commensurate with experience and skill. That being said, I don’t think anyone should be tearing down the writer of this article for trying to help problem solve with brides whose budgets do not allow for styled photo shoots and all day coverage with assistants etc. but still want to have pictures of the event. Nor should they be saying someone’s pictures will be a “load of crap” if a pro doesn’t do them. How vain and judgmental can you be?

    Summary: Try to be a little more understanding of people who are trying
    to save money on their wedding. They do it because they have to, not because they don’t
    think photography is worth it.

    • Tabi

      I understand where you’re coming from completely. I was the same. I had more money to spend but wanted to take our son on vacation after. I didn’t want a wedding to cost more than we put into his college account. So we did it low budget. I found a photographer who shot the ceremony, decor, after with wedding party, and some family, then she left. We did the rest with my dslr. I was a starting out photographer then, so I did my own photo editing. She charged me 2x the cost of an engagement shoot. I paid her $250 for 2hours of work. That way I got professional wedding photos on a budget. Now this is a service I offer to my clients, as long as I don’t have a full day wedding booked. I will edit some of the photos I take for them to have truly good images. I can’t afford to spend a week of editing for a cheap rate, so we work out an amount.

      Just letting you know, you do have options. And if you know someone that handles their way around image editing software, your options will be better. The editing is the most extensive part, for me at least. Don’t be afraid to ask around. A studio/portrait photographer may be a good fit. They can do your couple, bridal party, family shots, then you can have friends do the rest.

      My advice is to have someone with at least an extra level dslr and another shooter. Put one with you and your maids prior to the ceremony and one on the grooms side. Make sure one gets his reaction as you walk down. Give them a list of specific shots to take. Make sure no one goes up in front of them.

      When you get your images, don’t be freaked out if they don’t look great. You’d be surprised at what some of the professional ones looked like that I edit for others on the side. (Some professionals aren’t that great and we have to pick up the pieces). Congrats and good luck.

      • WinterWrens

        Thank you very much for this advice! I really did want some nice still shots of the ceremony and some formal pictures, but was worried that it was either all day or nothing. I personally have a ton of photo editing experience as I design websites so that’s another great idea. I have friends who are journalism photographers so I was just going to ask them to take pictures and share them with me.

        One thing that I think really bugs me is how big photography has gotten. It’s part of this selfie culture where everyone is always posing for a picture any time they leave the house. I certainly want to commemorate my wedding with beautiful pictures that I can hang in my house like so many other people have done. But I don’t necessarily need to feel like I have a Kim Kardashian paparazzi cloud following me taking a picture of every.single.angle. I like your suggestion of trying to compromise. I sort of assuming that photogs wouldn’t do that but you have inspired me to ask about my options!

  • Brian Cady

    If you are in the Tulsa area, I am starting a photography business this spring. I recently moved here, but I have experience shooting weddings back in Michigan. I am targeting budget minded people. Maybe it’s your second marriage or you are just on a tight budget. What my plan is is to come in and shoot the wedding and reception if you wish and then give you the cards from my cameras and leave. You get all the shots and all the rights up front. You do the editing, put together your wedding album, etc. My fees are going to be $350 for the wedding and $500 for wedding and reception. I can edit for an additional fee if you wish. I would rather leave editing up to the client because photographers go for the shot. We don’t always know what shots are important to you. Maybe a bride crying in her maid of honor’s arms would be important to have. We as photographers might cut that shot for bad lighting or whatever. The decision should be yours. My goals is great shots at an affordable price without all the gimmicks. You get to own all the images, because hey it’s your wedding and you paid me to shoot it. It only makes sense. I use a canon full frame main camera and a crop backup and have a series of canon l lenses. You won’t sacrifice quality with me, just price. Brian…810-955-9435

  • Paul

    How romantic, cheap wedding photos (you charmer I hear her say).

    If your partner wants cheap anything, I suggest a new partner to marry or in fact why bother because it’s most likely going to end in divorce as most separations are caused by money stress.

    If you really insist on cheap photos ask the priest or chauffeur to take some pics, I guess it all depends on your standards. There are lots of people with very low standards as well as high standards. Again I personally wouldn’t marry someone with low standards but I guess I’m a bit old fashioned.

    • WinterWrens

      When I said ‘How vain and judgemental can you be’ in my previous post, I didn’t mean to test the limits of your snobbery. I see you clearly did not get that message.

      Personally, I didn’t realize that charmer = enough money to afford a wedding photographer. I thought charm had something to do with your personality not your salary. I guess all those girls out there who fell in love with waiters and social workers should just move on and find a real ‘charmer’ right?

      Your condescension makes me want to vomit.

    • Paulisadouche

      It amazes me how people don’t realize how much they reveal about themselves without even knowing it.

    • Tabi

      Not old fashioned at all Paul… old fashioned typically means somewhat charming, a bit of a gentleman, etc. You sir, are stuck up, with a stick stuck up your snooty (fill in the blank). People who think like you end up miserable. We’ve all seen the movie of your life man…
      “Boohoo, I can’t believe she left me for him. What’s he got that I dont?.. ” answer: a fatter wallet, nicer car, and more stuff.

      Most separations end in money stress? Not hardly. Working in family law, prior to working in my passion (photography), I can assure you, money is a factor in many fights. Communication and cheating are to blame for most separations. However, many marriages do start out in a financial strain- kind of ironic seeing as you think they should blow money on the one major thing before the marriage…

      It’s sad that you put so much weight in material things. Personally, my husband and I are conservative in finances, and we do just fine. Going strong for 13 years. We didn’t do a big wedding. We had a budget of about 4x what we spent, but I decided the money had a better place elsewhere.

      You will make some bimbo a happy woman for a few years, then another man will.

      I get the feeling you are a photographer that feels like you are worth more than others want to pay, but some people can’t justify the cost. Who are you to decide they aren’t marry worthy? If so and this is your true feeling, you have no place being the man behind the camera at a celebration of love. You are one of them that give the rest of us a bad name. I’ll take a drunk groomsman with a camera over a douchebag with a vanity complex any day.

  • Jeff B.

    Quite frankly, this is some of the worst advice I have ever seen. To assume that “just anyone” can do this work is an insult to professionals everywhere. In a nutshell, you get what you pay for.

    • tj

      An insult to professionals everywhere? Not hardly, as most professionals are proud of their work and know where they started. We aren’t all so insecure.

      She made it clear that one should expect what they pay for, and in no way did she imply just anyone can do this as professionals. But dude, anyone can take pictures. Anyone. In fact, my 9 year old son has become quit the little shooter in training.
      Someone’s grandma won’t use their little point and shoot to capture what I do, just as she won’t send the work straight to Walgreens for printing and expect the same quality as it will be when I’m done editing. But this article and others like it, are not about the same quality with cheap or free alternatives – it’s about getting what need if you can’t you pay for what you want.

      Man, it annoys me to extreme levels when so called “professionals” get a stick all up in the *** Anytime someone offers advice to brides who can’t afford a high cost photo/videographer. A professional does not act like God’s gift to the world of their profession. Its nice to be in demand in your line of work but at what cost to others.

      Yes, photographers get a lot of crap from others with lack of appreciation for the actual work involved, which really is alot; But the simple fact is, some couples cannot afford it, especially a really experienced wedding photographer. We know we aren’t getting rich. We know our work is worth it. But much like we can’t afford to cut our rates, they can’t afford to pay them. We have brides diy their entire weddings, dress included. Weddings being done for $1000 plus food cost, but they are supposed to budget more for the photographer than for the day itself? It’s just not a possibility or the price is not justifiable in their budget.

      There’s no shame in it. Yet so many professionals have to treat them like 2nd class citizens. Lets face it, we were beginners and something made us step it up a notch, so why give up and comers a hard time?

  • Leslie

    Lots of condescending people commenting I see. I saw someone suggest that if you can’t afford a great wedding, don’t have one. Jeez. Glad you’re not my friend! We’ve spent $1500 on our wedding and that was a dress, his clothes, my daughters dress, the license, the fee for the judge, hair/makeup/nails and flowers. 17 people came to our courthouse wedding. They paid for their own meal, the out of town family stayed in our one bedroom apartment (we were there too, slept on the floor) and my friends mom took a couple pictures. Yes, it was CHEAP, extremely cheap. My parents just filed for bankruptcy and I have no other family, his family is a bunch of unemployed drug addict drunks, and our 18 month old daughter was born super prematurely and has enough problems that I am a stay at home mom. These circumstances were mostly unforeseen (his family has always sucked), does that mean I shouldn’t be allowed to get married to the man I’ve spent almost a decade with? Just cuz we couldn’t afford a grandiose ceremony? I just wanted the marriage, the REAL reason for the ceremony. I think many of these negative nellies are scorned photographers who see this as a belittling of their profession. It’s not. Some people, like myself, can NOT afford photographers. Every person I consulted had their basic package priced above my entire budget. Not skin off their backs, there will always be couples who can afford it. This article was written for those who can’t. Get off your high horses.

  • Minty Fresh

    Lmao, I actually found this article to be very helpful as me and my fiance are getting married soon. Fortunately for us, we’ve run into a lot of package deals and we’re both working full time.

    It would be easier for us to wait another year and save up even more for an all-expenses paid sort of wedding, where money isn’t an issue but I guess we are just itching to get hitched.

    And the photographer and videographers are something that’s starting to make me wonder what to do in terms of a reasonable price considering our venue is a mansion, but our guest list is small (tiny compared to others).

    Most charge for the hour with packages and deals, but am looking for something more intimate since there aren’t that many of us and am wondering if a big showy photographer lashed with professional across his/her chest will really be necessary or just another expense I can cut down.

    With pinterest pretty famous these days, most brides my age (early twenties) get a lot of ideas from them and want something similar but in our OWN taste, but I still want people to take photos at the wedding of us and of course I’ll just delete the ones I dont like or that are blurry, I’m sure there will at least be a FEW good ones aside from the professional ones, but I still want them.

    And people forget that students start somewhere but that doesn’t necessarily mean they lack the skill, they just lack the experience.

    This article was helpful, I don’t get why everyone is feeling all bent out of shape.

The content on MoneyCrashers.com is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor. References to products, offers, and rates from third party sites often change. While we do our best to keep these updated, numbers stated on this site may differ from actual numbers. We may have financial relationships with some of the companies mentioned on this website. Among other things, we may receive free products, services, and/or monetary compensation in exchange for featured placement of sponsored products or services. We strive to write accurate and genuine reviews and articles, and all views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors.

Advertiser Disclosure: The offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which MoneyCrashers.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they appear on category pages. MoneyCrashers.com does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers, although best efforts are made to include a comprehensive list of offers regardless of compensation. Advertiser partners include American Express, U.S. Bank, and Barclaycard, among others.