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$3,000.00! For Wedding Pictures? Are you Insane?

One of the most common misconceptions about wedding photographers is, on average, we are overpriced. Aside from your new husband or wife, wedding photos are the main tangible keepsakes from your wedding day. Some believe wedding photographers take advantage of this mindset and that is the reason behind the high price of wedding photography.

Many wonder why full-time professional wedding photographers often charge a whopping $3,500-$6,500 per wedding.

A few budget conscience couples immediately think that if they pay $3,000 for a photographer who’s only going to work for 8 hours, they are getting ripped off because $3000/8 hours = $375 per hour, right?


As photographers, we know the value of a moment captured in time. Unlike other venues, in wedding photography there are no “do-overs.” You get one shot at getting it right. Once the moment has passed, it’s gone forever.

When the clergyperson/vicar/pastor/priest/officiate says, “You may now kiss the bride,” we as photographers know that’s a once-in-a-lifetime event. Your first kiss as a married couple can’t be redone. Every moment of your wedding is as important to us as it is to you.

In addition, to the sentimental value placed on wedding photos once the day is over, there are real costs involved as well. I would like to break it down so you can see for yourself where your hard earned dollar is going.

To keep things simple, I will be using a nice round number of $3,000, a little below average for a wedding photographer in the state of California. On average, a full-time wedding photographer will cover anywhere from 15-25 weddings per year, so I will use 20 weddings per year for this Time vs. Expenses example.

Keep in mind, Over The Moon Images always provides TWO shooters!

Time Invested for a $3,000.00 Wedding Session

  • 1 hour Consultation- this includes emails as well as face to face.

  • 4 hours Pre-wedding prep, i.e., developing a workflow from the questionnaire we send during the aforementioned consultation.

  • 1 hour Final meeting.

  • 3 hours Wedding day preparation- preparing gear, communicating with other vendors/coordinators, researching, and visiting the venue-2 hours/Average travel time to wedding.

  • 8 hours Wedding day photography.

  • 1 hour Creating the wedding slideshow.

  • 2 hours Backing up wedding photos.

  • 30 hours (minimum) Culling, sorting, editing, exporting, and uploading wedding photos.

  • 1 hour Posting to blog, social media, and client gallery.

  • 1 hour Creating client package of finished product.

  • Total hours invested: 54

Expenses Paid for a $3,000.00 Wedding Session

  • $300+ for an assistant

  • Sales tax @ 8.625% in Vallejo = $262.50

  • Self Employment tax, 13% = $390

  • Income tax, approx. 15% = $450

  • Liability + Equipment insurance (total divided by 20 weddings per year), $25

  • Health Insurance, (total divided by 20 weddings per year), $90

  • Other expenses not calculated into this total: School, ­–yes, I went to school, and yes, it was expensive– gear, computers, transportation, software, website fees, studio space overhead, postage, packaging materials, membership fees, advertising, permits, city business taxes and fees, etc.

Total expenses invested: $1,517.00

Total wedding profit: $3,000 – $1,517 = $1,483

Bottom Line: $1,483 ÷54= $27.46 OR $29,660 net annually.

Let’s face it, weddings are expensive and the cost of a wedding photographer is a large chunk out of the wedding budget. But, when you take into account all of the work that goes into a single wedding for a photographer, the expenses, the quality of work, the value (both real and sentimental) of the product you are receiving, and the fact that we love what we do, then we are confident you’ll see that it is money well spent.

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