5 Tips to save money on wedding photography !!!
According to the Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. has hit a record high of $35,329! It can be quite an expensive time to get married especially if you are getting hitched in a popular destination area like Asheville, or in the big cities like New York and Chicago! Though weddings prices overall have risen over time, with a little strategy in the right places and focus on the right things, you can come in well under this amount simply by figuring out a way to save a few hundred bucks here and there on certain items and services. Specifically we are going to cover some ways to save money on your wedding photography without sacrificing the look or quality of the photos you want! With most planners, planner websites, and publications, you’ll generally get recommendations to budget around 8-15% of your budget towards wedding photography. This is a good rule of thumb to start out by. If you’ve found a way to have your wedding at a much lower cost than $35k (the majority of couples) 8% may not equate to the exact style and quality you are looking for. Conversely, if you’ve already maxed out most of your budget and you still haven’t booked a wedding photographer, 15% of you budget may be a little high. We give these quick examples to say, it’s not always about percentages and numbers. This being said, let’s go ahead and dive right into so some simple tips to save a few bucks, so that way not matter what your budget for wedding photography is, you end up with the best value for you!
Consider Getting Married in the “Offseason”!
Now, truth be told, many wedding photographers, are booked year round and travel to different regions when the weather isn’t ideal in their general area, but the demand for a fall wedding in Asheville is always going to be higher than a winter wedding in Asheville. I know when we got married in Florida in July, this time of the year is so hot and humid that most of the wedding photographers we liked were available because their aren’t quite as many bookings and weddings during this time. So if you find yourself getting married in a region that has hot summers or cold winters, scheduling your wedding during this time is a way to save money on your wedding photography as the demand of dates available is not quite as high, and the supply of dates available is usually higher (good old supply and demand!). Now, every photographer/photography company is different in terms of pricing, and how they run their businesses, but if you find yourself getting married in one of these “offseason times” it doesn’t hurt to ask about an offseason rate. Even a 5-10% discount could make a dent in your overall budget to help put money towards other wedding related costs! So, if you have the flexibility, consider an offseason wedding.
Get Married on a weekday!
Let’s face it, there are usually only around 52 Saturdays in a year. Considering the summer in warmer regions lasts about 2-3 months and winter in colder regions can last around 2-3 months, go ahead and take away 12 of those Saturdays. Now you are left with 40! Now let’s say you decide you are going to avoid October or May (two of the most popular wedding months in the Asheville area) because most of those people booked their wedding over a year in advance. Now we are left with around 32 Saturdays. The months surrounding these popular months always seems to be favorites as well so that would be April, and June as well as September and November. Now we are left with around 16 Saturdays to play with. Saturdays go quick! They are low in supply and high in demand, and especially in a destination wedding area like Asheville, Sundays book up quickly in these popular months as well! So, thinking outside the box, if you are able with your schedule, venue, etc. Consider getting married on a weekday! Besides it being a perfect way to squeeze in a 3 day weekend, we’ve already established that there are only so many weekend days to go around, yet, there are plenty of weekdays to choose from! We can tell you from being full time wedding photographers that a lot of marketing, editing, networking, blogging, and strategic planning goes on during the weekdays, but we always love the opportunity to work with another amazing couple when our schedule permits! And because these days are higher in supply and less in demand, you should feel confident in asking for a possible weekday rate!
Figure out where to shave time!
You ever notice how when you look at larger wedding packages they tend to go up in price? Amongst an array of cool add on options, the main difference you are paying for, for the price increase is time! Many times couples hear that they need this many hours from someone, or that many hours from this magazine. We would encourage you to sit with your wedding photographer and go over an approximate timeline for your day. Ask them how long each chapter of the day usually takes? (i.e. like the big group family photos, or getting ready photos, etc.) We always encourage you to think about the exact things you want covered and then go over where in the day this time will be allocated. Many times we’ve sat with plenty of our couples and determined that based on a more detailed look of the day, and their wants and needs, we were able to save them an hour or two by just going over the day and breaking it down section by section (of course sometimes they find they need more time). Now, you may want all day coverage from beginning to end, from the moment you start getting your hair done to the moment you exit the wedding. This may not be your vision. But, if you are trying to save some time, really consider starting later during the getting ready photos or having your photographer leave before the end of the reception. Now I know what you’re thinking, but they will miss the exit!? Truth be told, in about 1/3 of all our weddings this year where we provided all day coverage, the couples decided (sometimes independently and sometimes with the consultation from us or their planner) to stage a sparkler exit or something along those lines because let’s face it, guests leave early, and before you know it, you may not have anyone left to actually do a sparkler exit. We also let couples know that if the beginning of your day is going to be scheduled tightly and the ceremony will be short, many times you’ll end up with your wedding photographer spending the largest independent chunk of time taking dance floor photos. I say this because in 5+ years of shooting weddings, we’ve never met a couple that told us the dance floor photos were the most important to them. So If you find yourself in this boat, maybe have your photographer come in earlier in the day or consider shaving some time from your coverage in order to save a little bit. Now don’t get us wrong, we love capturing fun and raw emotion that typically takes place on the dance floor, but at the end of the day, most couples don’t want you spending 3.5-4 hours of your 8 hour wedding coverage taking dance photos of the same 6-10 people over and over. Another place to consider shaving time is the beginning of the day. Many couples want getting ready photos, and we absolutely love the process of capturing the ‘before’! but, if you have 10+ bridesmaids, consider whether or not you would rather the photographer(s) get there and cover the entire 2-3 hours of getting ready or would you rather them get there towards the end and focus primarily on you (the bride)? Heeding these tips can help you shave off a potential hour or two from your wedding coverage and save you a few bucks in the process!
Put your wedding package on a diet!
As briefly mentioned at the beginning of the last tip, there can be a lot of add on items to your wedding package. Don’t be afraid to ask your wedding photographer if they are flexible on some of these items. These could include engagement sessions, bridal sessions, albums, prints, canvases, thumb drives, gift boxes, and other custom items, just to name a few. Now, I will be the first to tell you that I’m a big advocate of working with your wedding photographer before the wedding in the form of an engagement session, but it’s not 100% necessary. You guys can get to know each other outside of an engagement session, and if your wedding budget is tight, dropping the engagement session from a package or bridal session may save you some much needed funds to allocate to other area of your wedding budget!
Now this last tip is just personal to us, but we do know many other wedding photographers in the industry who practice this as well. Pay in full or pay in cash! In general, the majority of the industry operates on the basis of a deposit to book your date and the rest of the money being due prior to the wedding (with some variances in timelines and percentages). Many will do half down and half before the wedding, some couples will pay in thirds. The beauty of paying in full is there are less processing/transaction fees for electronic transactions (depending on your photography company’s technology and system) thus there is incentive on both ends to pay in full! Lastly, paying in cash is something that many will encourage for tax purposes and it ends up helping you as a consumer save, and the photography company save as well. So don’t be afraid to ask about payment options!
Short of actually having a venue and a ring, for obvious reasons we truly believe that photography will be the most important investment you make on your wedding day. Picking the right wedding photographer will not only help you capture memories to last a life time, but it will also make your wedding day experience so much smoother! Having someone there who not only does great work but is also vested in making sure you have an amazing wedding day is the kind of re-assurance that most couples want on their big day! This being said, we realize the average cost of a reputable professional wedding photographer can sometimes be just a tad outside of some couples’ budgets. Don’t fret! Utilize these tips, plan ahead, and do your research! You will be well on your way to planning the wedding of your dreams and at the same time, staying savvy to your budget!
We hope this has been helpful and thank you for following along!
-Joe & Jenny