How We Saved Thousands on Our Wedding Photographer

Save Thousands on Wedding PhotographerToday we welcome back Tori to talk about our wedding, something Lance has no clue about because he’s a typical guy.

Welcome back to our frugal wedding planning series! If you missed our previous posts, here is a little snippet on what we are planning. We are having a DIY morning shabby chic garden wedding, with a brunch reception, no bridal party, family only (with the exception of two of my friends) all for under $3,000.

Our Most Important Part of the Wedding

A couple years ago, when Lance and I decided that we would probably be getting married at some point in time, we discussed what each of us thought was the most important aspects of a wedding. He chose simplicity and intimacy, mainly because small simple weddings cost a whole lot less!

** And because I’m a not fan of being the center of attention – Lance **

I agree because you can still have a beautiful and memorable wedding without dropping major moolah for just one day, and I was never one for insisting on having the most lavish wedding.

For me, the engagement ring and photography was the most important. I will wear this ring for the rest of my life and having amazing photography is an investment of preserving such wonderful memories. Plus, I am pretty picky when it comes to photography because I do photography on the side.

Finding a Great Wedding Photographer on a Budget

One of the first things I did after getting engaged, was start researching wedding photographers in my area. For those of you who don’t know, wedding photography is one of the most costly forms of photography. To get a decent wedding photographer to capture wonderful images on a no do-over day will easily cost you a minimum of $3,000 and can range up to and beyond $10,000.

There are exceptions of course. You could have connections or family members who are professionals. However, those people who have connections are probably minimal, leaving the majority of engaged couples to bite the bullet and pay the price, or negotiate.

We Decided to Try Negotiating

I narrowed down my top photographers in the area to about five and researched their advertised investment prices. I knew that our non traditional wedding time and needs would help with negotiating. By having a non-peak time wedding we were more likely to find photographers with availability.

I decided that to get the best photographer, I would compromise and only ask for ceremony coverage, instead of the typical full day coverage. By having a photographer for less time, that also means much less editing for the photographer, which takes a majority of their time spent on any wedding.

My top choice photographer’s least expensive intimate wedding package started at $3,000. That obviously wasn’t going to work for our budget. I then sent her an email explaining that we are having a very small intimate wedding and that my max budget was $800. I made sure to state that our guest list was under 30 people, no wedding party, and would only need coverage for two hours at the ceremony. I figured that my two family members who do photography as a hobby could document the “getting ready” and the reception where everyone is just stuffing their faces with cake anyways!

The keys to successful negotiating include stressing why your wedding won’t be as high maintenance as some of the blow out parties that lead to the higher prices and being firm with your budget. By cutting down on time, size and drama, you can likely find a way to get the photographer to realize your wedding won’t take as much work as the typical wedding package their prices represent.

She Accepted Our Proposal!

My top choice photographer accepted my offer and stated because this was going to be such a small morning wedding and only two hours of coverage she would be able to do this for us. A couple weeks after signing our contract with her we received a hand written thank you note and Starbucks gift card for choosing her. After getting this I knew we had made the right decision!

Negotiating with Other Big Wedding Costs

I used this negotiation strategy to choose and book our wedding officiant. We do not belong to a church, and live in a destination wedding location. This meant that most of the officiates in the area offered expensive wedding packages with a bunch of stuff we didn’t need or want and weren’t very personal.

The least expensive fee I came across was $250. After lots of researching again, I came across a locally owned company that offered simple officiant services. I asked what they would charge for a morning ceremony with no extra services such as a sand ceremony, and they offered to perform the ceremony for only $185. Score!

Lesson

The lesson of this post is, always ASK! Nothing bad will likely come of you just simply asking. All they can say is no, and chances are they will say yes!

Total Wedding Spending to Date: $2,280

Venue: $100    Dresses: $895   Reception: $300   Photographer: $800   Officiant: $185

Have you ever asked for and received a discount? Did you try it on any of your wedding costs? It seems everything for weddings is marked up ridiculously high, so there may be room for a discount!

Picture from: George Groutas

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Comments

  1. Something that my now husband and I did while planning our wedding was to find a photographer who was just starting out – she still had an amazing portfolio but not a lot of experience. By doing this we were able to get her for the entire day – she edited something like 100 of the pictures – she did our engagement pictures and gave us all the “negatives” of everything on a disc. We ended up only having to pay $300 – now just a few years later she charges 5k+ for the same package. We did this with a lot of the wedding vendors we chose, and we were happy with every single one of them.

    • eemusings says:

      Our photographer was a fellow blogger – she’s not a beginner, but she’s not a full time pro either (she’s actually studying law and music). I didn’t want any morning pictures, just stuff from the ceremony and reception. All up I think we only had her for about four hours – a short and sweet wedding!

  2. This is awesome! We scored a great deal on our photographer as well, and I couldn’t be happier! Photography is very important to me, and I cringe whenever I hear other brides say that they hated their photographer.

  3. That’s awesome that you negotiated! We didn’t do any of that, but we also weren’t having a particularly small wedding like you were. It’s smart to not pay so much if they really are providing less service.

    We have a local friend who is a wedding photographer. I guess we did negotiate with her a bit because she did our ceremony and first reception at her usual price (not terribly high since she is young in the business) and our second reception for free after we paid for her flight there. It sounded like a great deal to us and I was so glad to have a friend who I could easily communicate with us in that job since photography is really important to me.

    My husband’s uncle, who is a retired wedding photographer, also ended up shooting practically the whole wedding, which was annoying at the time but I was very grateful for the pictures later! I’m sure your hobby-photographer friends will give you some great pics as well of the rest of the celebration.

  4. We got a photographer for $700 because it was her first wedding to do. She was not a new photographer before and had done plenty of studio work and senior portraits and engagement photos, just not an actual wedding. She did a great job! I guess now she charges much closer to the $2500-$3000 range now that she has “experience.” My Wife also wanted a videographer and we got him for $500. He worked at a local news station and used all their equipment and editing supplies (they allowed him to do this). He doesn’t charge that much because he “just really likes going to weddings and filming them.”

  5. I think photography is super important too, with weddings. That is how you’ll remember the day! I’m glad you got a great deal, having your wedding at a time of the day that is unusual likely helped.

  6. Kyle @ Debt Free Diaries says:

    Leslie and I aren’t engaged yet, but I love hearing about how other people are saving money for weddings! We got anniversary pictures this past year (an anniversary/Valentines day gift) and and chose a former high school classmate of mine. She is fantastic and charges a fraction of all the other professionals in our area (probably because she has less experience). We had wonderful results and will definitely head back her way for future events.

  7. I don’t know why, but people are afraid to ask the question. You set it up perfectly, by giving the other party a reason to say yes. Most business people want the business, but don’t take the time to be be creative unless you ask or give them a reason.

  8. I’m glad you guys were able to negotiate everyone down! My fiance and I will be going through the same joys of negotiating with vendors before our wedding soon. When we say “wedding”, they hear cha-ching! I enjoyed reading your post; thanks for sharing!

  9. If you plan ahead, you are bound to find a good deal. You can book the best photogs in your area, if they are good, they will be very busy. And you can negotiate, especially if you know them or if you were referred by someone.

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