Wedding Photography | Cost, Budget and Expectations

When Michael and I took a look at our wedding budget, and then a look at the total expense for wedding coverage, and then back at our budget, we knew we had some big decisions to make. Ultimately, we decided that we would pay for our photographer and videographer out of our own pockets, rather than our budget which was so graciously given to us by my parents. It wasn’t that we couldn’t have paid for them with our budget, but it was because I could feel my Dad’s heart rate sky rocket when I began to talk about how much that part of the wedding would cost. You see, it wasn’t until very recently that my Dad came to the very same realization that my business is based on…memories are worth making, and capturing them well is invaluable. Wedding days come and go faster than you can imagine, and when the day is over all that is left is your memories, your dress, some leftover cake, flowers with a pending dooms day…AND your photos and hopefully, your video. This is how every wedding is, no matter how hard a bride may try and convince herself otherwise, expenses can be allocated to last a day or last a lifetime.

Wedding budgets in America seem to have a larger range than Jennifer Hudson these days; which is one of the reasons the wedding industry is thriving. Every professional, and every price point, has potential couples who are in need of their expertise. The average wedding budget allocates 10% toward photography/videography which, when looking at the average cost of a wedding in Texas ($35,000) is a pretty great chunk at $3,500. But, if you shift your thinking and apply the above notion that, when all is said and done, your photography and videography is all that is left, is 10% really enough?

When I stumbled upon our incredible photographer, Gabriel Ryan, there was something about him that made both Michael and I sure that he would be the one to capture our big day. Even after we received our quote, which was initially higher than we were willing to spend, we knew that the investment would be worth it…we couldn’t have been more right or more thankful for the gorgeous images he captured….

Could we have spent less and had great photos? Most likely, yes. Could we have spent less and had a photographer who was willing to stand in the pouring rain? Possibly. Could we have spent less and received the sincere, hard working, Christ centered, loving, intentional, married couple, who came from CA to capture our day? No way.

You see, once our mind was made up that Gabriel was our guy, no one could take his place. Wedding photography is so much more than the images you receive; it is an experience that is molded by the personality of the artist behind the camera, and that is what the true cost of wedding photography is based on. Great people, with a great craft, are worth a great cost, whether it be $1500 – $15,000! When you find someone who is trustworthy and talented, they. are. worth it.

If you find yourself in love with a photographers images, awesome! If you fall in love with a photographer for who they are, even better! Making a connection with your wedding professionals ensures the ability for you, and your family to sit back on your big day and know that the people you hired to orchestrate your wedding are on your team. When our wedding day was threatened by hurricane rain, a two day before venue switch, and inevitable drama, I couldn’t have been more thankful for my future husband, our family, friends, and our incredible team of professionals. What started as business relationships had grown into friendships over the course of 9 months, and not only did I have complete peace that everything would be perfect, but in the fact that every single person at our wedding was a loved one. Including our team of professionals. Priceless.

I write this first, and foremost as a bride. I just happen to be a bride  who sees the ins and outs of the wedding business. Trust me when I say, I will never regret spending a large portion of our budget on photography and videography. In fact, I don’t think there has ever been a bride who can honestly say they are glad they skimped on their coverage. Moments like this one were captured because I hired someone with the gifting and heart to see moments like the photo below. This photo would be one of the first moments my dad would understand why we hired Gabriel and Carlie…

The final nudge my dad needed to be a full fledged believer would come in the form of our wedding film by Threaded Films. If I’m being completely transparent, these guys cost more than my dress, and my venue combined. Say whaaaat?! Crazy bride? Maybe. Able to relive 100% of my wedding and even see moments and conversations that I wasn’t a part of? You better believe it. They are, bar none, one of the best investments we have ever made, and I will scream it from the rooftops for the rest of my life. I could go on and on about their talent, creativity, professionalism, kindness, encouraging hearts, and attention to detail. Love them. You can find our wedding short film by clicking here. 

If you find yourself, like every other bride has done, sitting at a kitchen table crunching the numbers, no matter the budget, I urge you to look honestly at the things that mean the most to you. For some, it will be a great party at the reception, a designer gown, a gorgeous venue…and for others, it will be remembering all of those things in the best way, for the rest of your life. You can never expect what enemy of time or health may steal your memories of big moments in life. That is why I love what I do. Call me crazy, but spending over half of our budget on coverage was the best wedding decision we could have made.

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