When it comes to your wedding photos, there are good ways to find affordable wedding photography and cheap wedding albums, and bad ways to do it. I didn’t spend thousands on my wedding photos, and I spent less than $200 on my wedding album and parents’ album. Nevertheless, I have a beautiful album and fantastic photos.
Bad Ways to Save Money on Wedding Photography
Let’s start with the bad ways to save money on your wedding photos. If you employ these methods, you will probably hate your photos. All of these apply to your wedding video, too.
Ask your friends to take the photos.
Unless your friends are professional photographers who are offering your services as a gift, you will probably regret this. First, there is an art to wedding photography and capturing the right moments. Our friends sent us their digital snaps, which were lovely, but our professional images were better and higher-quality. Second, your friends are there to celebrate, not to work. If you rely on your friends to capture key moments, you just might miss them.
Hire the cheapest photographer you can find.
There may be a reason that photographer offers super-low packages. It could be that you’ll only get a few hours of his time, he uses poor equipment, or he’s a weekend hobbyist rather than a pro. When it comes to these wedding photos, you want a pro.
Rely on table cameras.
Once again, this is asking for trouble. Those table cameras are cute, but there’s no way you can guarantee that you’ll get usable images from them. Use them for candids to fill out your album, not your sole source of wedding photos.
Good Ways to Save Money on Wedding Photography
You can find a good, professional photographer you can afford if you research carefully and negotiate well.
Research local mid-price photographers.
I paid $1700 for my professional photographer. That included 8 hours of her time, an assistant, unlimited digital proofs and a DVD of the wedding photos, and an engagement shoot. That was about the average for photographers under $2000. Once I knew I could get good photos for that budget. I searched for photographers in that range. They tended to be independent photographers (rather than affiliated with a studio) who had started as wedding photography assistants and been doing their own wedding photography for 1-2 years.
Read reviews from other brides.
Once again, the wedding planning message boards are your friend. I compiled a list of potential photographers in my price range based on the reviews.
Review online portfolios, then interview potential wedding photographers in person.
I reviewed the photographers’ online portfolios to whittle down the list, then showed my fiancé the websites for 4-5 of the top contenders. We then scheduled interviews with 3 of them. We wanted to see complete albums in person and get a feel for our rapport with the photographer.
Negotiate the price.
The photographer we chose didn’t initially offer a free engagement shoot, but the other two we interviewed did. I asked ours to include it free ($200 value) and she did. Of course, you can’t ask a photographer to cut the price in half, but asking for an engagement shoot or an extra hour is completely reasonable if it’s something other photographers offer. Also make sure that you’ll receive a DVD of all of your digital photos or copies of all of your negatives within one month of the wedding so you can make your own prints.
Don’t buy the professional album or prints.
I know, some brides really want the beautiful, digitally printed massive book of photos. I liked those, but I didn’t want to pay $1500 for it, especially considering that most photographers limit you to 40-60 images.
Instead, my photographer referred me to a local professional photo printer and I made my own album. I used Imagexperts to print my photos. This is a pro lab that also serves the public. I got my wedding album from BoundCustomBook.com (full disclosure: I know her and it was a gift). I spent $100 to print about 120 photos for my album. I used scrapbooking supplies from Michaels to assemble it. Total cost: $115. If I’d paid for the album, the total would have been $380. I created my parents album in Photoshop and then uploaded it to MyPublisher. I used a 50% coupon I received from them by email, so the total cost was $56. Tip: send them your email address shortly before you plan to order the album to receive your email coupon.
For your video, you can do all of the above except edit your own video, unless you know a professional editor or have your own video editing software. Like photographers, you can find videographers in all price ranges and negotiate to get what you want.
These are the keepsakes you’ll have for a lifetime, so you don’t want to go uber-cheap, but you can find quality, affordable wedding photographer and wedding album if you research carefully and negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.