Firstly, I’d like to say spending money is obviously a very personal thing and many factors will come into play in regard to how much you can afford to pay for a top level wedding photographer.
I guess the main question to ask yourself is ‘How important is wedding photography to you.’
Obviously, photography is not important to some and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and there will always be cheap photographers out there to accommodate this side of the market.
However, should wedding photography be important to you the industry standard or rule of thumb I guess you could say is approximately 10-15% of your overall wedding budget should go towards a top-level wedding photographer. According to the Bridebook 2020 report – the average wedding in the UK costs around £16,000-£20,000 meaning your photography budget should be in the region of £1600-£2000. This of course as mentioned should be what a great photographer is worth.
High quality photography should be valued. No one wants to look back on their photos and see mediocre photos with out of focus guests and missed moments. In the wedding industry and pretty much everything in life, you get what you pay for.
Generally speaking, for a competent, high quality experienced photographer with a proven track record of excellent imagery and awards you should expect to be paying at least £1400+.
Of course there are hordes of photographers out there with packages under £800 for example but like I said you get what you pay for with wedding photography and should you wish to take a chance on someone cheaper for your once in a lifetime wedding that is truly your call.
For couples with smaller budgets I always advocate allocating a higher portion of the budget to wedding photography. Cutting back in other areas will always be better. In 10 years’ time or even 20-30 years, your grandchildren will ask to see the photos of your wedding because everything else from the day will be gone. The cake will be eating, the dress buried in the attic, the food and drink gone, the LED dance floor gone and so on, you get the idea. It’s only the photographs and potentially video that remains. Your love and the rings too of course.
Save money on other items, things you could maybe do yourselves like electronic invitations, or DIY invites, DIY elements are very popular these days at weddings. If great quality wedding photography is at the top of your importance list, make sure to allocate your budget there and save in other areas.
Remember your wedding day is a one-day event. You can’t go back and re-do it because your photos didn’t turn out very good. Booking a good photographer should be a high priority after booking the venue.
Quick touch on booking timetables. I take over 300 enquiries each year from couples who love my work and value what I bring to each and every wedding not just on the day but my entire process and customer journey. For most bookings, dates are snapped up 18 months to 2 years in advance, Especially June, July, August. Book in ASAP to avoid disappointment