Should Photography Be a Priority in Your Wedding Budget?

Photography is More Important Than You Think

Weddings are expensive affairs. From start to finish, planning a wedding is an investment for nearly everyone – no matter the size of your budget. Keeping costs within your comfort zone means deciding on what’s truly most important to you every time another vendor decision presents itself.

When choosing a photographer, your budget clearly has a strong say in whom you wind up hiring. And, like all wedding vendors, there’s a wide variety of price points. It’s a tempting prospect to save money – after all, a photo is a photo is a photo, right?

Unfortunately, no. According to a survey done by, 22% of brides regret not spending more on their wedding photography. (Interestingly enough, this mirrors the fact that 22% felt they spent too much on flowers and decor). And if you think about it, photography actually gives you the best return on your investment: unlike your other wedding vendor purchases, you actually get to keep and revisit your photos time and again. 

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On occasion, I’ll meet with a couple who tell me that they love my work, but I’m at the top of their budget. They’ll tell me they’ve met with other photographers that will include albums for less.  While I understand budget restraints, I always ask: but do you LOVE their pictures? At the end of the day, you’re hiring based on your photographer’s ability to capture your story. If you love their pictures, then you’ve found the right fit. If you don’t – you may get albums, but you may not get the raw materials to tell your story they way you hoped.

Being a photographer isn’t just about taking photos.

When you invest money on a skilled professional, they’re able to weave together the story of your wedding day in an artful way. They know the ebbs and flows of how they day will unfold and how best to document it.

It is more than just having a good camera.

With better skill comes the ability to make adjustments on the fly. Weddings are dynamic events. The atmosphere can be completely different from one party to the next. You’re paying someone with the skill set to read the situation, adjust, and adapt to capture the photos just the right way.

Less skilled photographers may hang their hats on standard shots (the dress, the bouquet, the rings, the portraits) and have a limited comfort zone. A skilled photographer knows how to shoot a 600 person gala as well as an intimate gathering of 50. They know the ins and outs of lighting, how to make a cavernous space feel warm, how to make a small event feel lively. They know the right angles to shoot and how to capture the emotion of the day in a non-intrusive way. And a good photographer can put you and your guests at ease so your story rings true in every image.

That’s great Dave, but it doesn’t change our budget.

Understood. Fortunately, nowadays there’s more options. Sites like Zola let you register for vendor services like photography along with traditional registry items. This makes the unattainable gift-able instead. It's a great way for couples to stretch their budget in ways that count.

When you spend more on photography, you get higher quality images that become heirlooms. So when it comes time to make decisions, think about what’s truly lasting, and what you’ll want to look back on. You’ve already spent so much time and money on your event – the only way you can truly preserve it is through pictures.