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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.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

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