How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Photographer | J.J. Au'Clair

How Much Should I Spend On My Wedding Photographer?

Posted in: Pro Tips

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Hey Friends! I’m so excited to chat with you today, because if you’re reading this, chances are you’re engaged! And of course, you’re thinking about wedding planning.  You are wondering how much you should spend on a wedding photographer. Of course, this is a massive question! And we don’t talk about it enough because talking about budgets and money is awkward for a lot of us.

I’m not a believer in % amounts for budgeting to plan your wedding. I think it’s sooo much deeper than that, and the planning should be as unique as your desires and wants. No wedding is one size-fits all, and chances are, no one budget does either.  That said, most wedding professionals and magazines suggest you spend about 15% of your budget on photography, 40% to venue/catering/cake/alcohol, 10% to planning, 20% to flowers and decor, 10% to attire and beauty, and 5% to stationary, favors(?!), and music. Which is a lot of math, and possibly still way off for your needs!


So, how much should you spend on your wedding photographer? It depends on these factors:

Let’s talk about the nitty gritty, real things we need to think about:


  1. How much money do you have available? Obviously, this is an extremely personal question. But it’s also super obvious to consider. If you don’t have a lot of cash in the bank, you may need to compromise more (or have a longer engagement… or at least get creative).  And if you DO have a stack of cash in the bank, then you’re probably feeling pretty good right now:) So, let’s move on to step #2!
  2. Now, let’s look at what you value for your wedding. Get some paper and begin to write them down in a list, from most important onward. Tell me, what are the most important things for you on your wedding day? Seriously. Get honest with yourself. First, put down all the things you want, then put a number by each of them in order of importance. Very quickly, you will be able to realize how your budget should be allotted! If your #1 goal is to have an incredible and relaxed experience in a gorgeous location with your closest friends and family, then make that the most important part of your budget (ie. venue and  planner, because the planner will save so so much headache). If your #2 is to have your day authentically and gorgeously documented preserved, then photography is going to need a good portion of the budget as well. That way you can relive and share it with family and friends again and again!  If food and air conditioning aren’t as important to you, then you know where you can relax in the budget! Opt for an outdoor wedding venue, and maybe choose a lighter catering option.
  3. Its been simple so far, but we’re not quite done yet! Now it’s time to talk with your fiancé about your goals in life. I know it’s hard, but what do you want in the next couple years? Do you want to take an epic honeymoon, or travel a bunch? Would you want to buy a house? Do you want to simply want to keep setting money aside for your savings? If you’re anything like me, chances are you want all of these things. 100%.  So, instead of spending all your money on your wedding day, consider taking some of that money you have and put it towards all the other things you really want to do as well. Now you finally have a better idea about your financial plans for the next 12-24 months! And where you want your money to go for the wedding day.

    Planning your wedding should be about both the day itself, and your future as a couple!

  4. After you’ve figured this all out, go ahead and book the venue and your photographer ASAP (Like me!). Trust me, you’ll want to lock that in. Usually, you want to book your photographer and even the venue about 12 months in advance.



But if you value your photography and memories, I really recommend that you invest a solid portion of your wedding budget to it.

Think about it this way. If you spend $5,000-10,000 on a wedding venue (or even $20,000+), and then only $2,500 on a wedding photographer, that doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Especially if your $10,000 wedding venue also has a $10,000 minimum for catering.

Now I love food, but $10,000 worth of it physically hurts me to think about. I’d personally start considering a smaller guest count! (BUT, maybe $10k+ on food is a big yes for you, which is totally awesome).

Now, all of a sudden spending $5,000 on your wedding photographer doesn’t seem like that much. Especially when you consider that your photography will be one of the few things that will actually last an entire lifetime (and beyond). Meanwhile, your catering will last you for only the amount of time that you are able to consume and experience it!


Your wedding photography is one of the only expenses that will last a lifetime and beyond! It’s an investment in timeless memories and family heirlooms.


Of course, I’m not bashing quality food experiences. If you know me, you know that my personal life budget has a high food priority! I just think that for a wedding day, I would care more about documenting my life’s most important memories… and I would ensure that happened by hiring an incredibly talented and experienced wedding photographer!


I hope this discussion has helped you brainstorm your wedding budget and how to best make it fit your needs. While I still have you here, feel free to check out these resources I’ve put together for you to help plan your destination wedding!

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