The Average Wedding Photographer Cost (2021)

Bride and groom embrace in the fields of Montana during their wedding day. Image overlaid with text that reads What is the Average Wedding Photographer Cost? Photo by Ashley J Photography.

One of the most important parts of the wedding planning process is hiring a wedding photographer. After all, your wedding day will only be a single day, but your photos will last a lifetime! So, this is one area of wedding planning where it is especially important to choose wisely and not try to cut corners. With this in mind, many couples wonder what the average wedding photographer cost is so that they can plan their budgets accordingly.

As an experienced wedding photographer based in Montana, I thought I’d share my insight on the average wedding photographer cost and what goes into wedding photography packages. Call me biased (I’d say it’s just the TRUTH), but I truly believe that wedding photography services are one of the best investments you can make for your big day!

Average wedding photographer cost

The cost of a wedding photographer can honestly range anywhere from $500 to $10,000. That’s a huge range, isn’t it?

Thankfully, most good wedding photographers tend to fall within a smaller range of pricing, though there is some debate on what the exact average wedding photographer cost is.

For example, The Knot interviewed approximately 27,000 couples who got married in 2019 to see how much they spent on their wedding photography. This survey found that the average wedding photographer cost came out to $2,400.

However, the average cost is higher for those living in bigger cities and destination wedding locations, such as San Francisco, Hawaii, and even Glacier, Montana. Considering these factors, the average price for a wedding photographer is more likely to be around $3,000-$4,000. 

For my Montana wedding photography services, I start my rates at $3,500. For elopements, my rates start at $2,500.

Bride and groom look at the camera as the bride rests her head on grooms shoulder as they stand in an open field in Montana. Photographed by Montana wedding photographer Ashley J Photography.

What do wedding photography costs include?

You may be wondering, “What exactly am I paying for when I hire a wedding photographer?” That’s a great question! While not every wedding photographer offers the same services or exact rates, there are some items that are generally included in most wedding photography packages. These items are:

  • 8-12 hours of photography services
  • Editing of your wedding photos
  • Digital downloads of all your photos
  • Travel fees up to a certain distance (such as distances up to a 3-4 hour drive from where your photographer is based)

It is also quite common for wedding photographers to include an engagement photo session in their packages. 

For me, I want to provide more than just photography services to my clients. I mean, of course, I’m there to capture photos, but I also want to be your Hype Woman/Champagne Pourer (while you get pampered as you get ready of course)/Wardrobe Assistant/Coffee Deliverer…you get the picture. Basically, as your wedding photographer, I am there to do whatever I can to make sure your wedding day is the Best. Day. Ever! 

Reasons behind wedding photographer pricing

Is wedding photography pricing surprising to you? Maybe it feels somewhat expensive for what you get in return.

However, you have to remember that there are hidden costs for the photographer that you may not necessarily be aware of. The cost to hire a wedding photographer also goes toward their camera, gear and lighting equipment (purchases or rentals), liability insurance, and more! These hidden costs are largely what makes it possible for your photographer to give you your gorgeous photos. 

Plus, your wedding photographer may also have to pay a second shooter (if they brought one along). In that case you’re paying for not one photographer, but two.

Beautiful wedding invitation, jewlery, bouquet and bride shoes for Montana Wedding. Photographed by Montana wedding photographer Ashley J Photography.

Additionally, your photographer also will spend hours after your wedding editing your photos. You’re not just paying your photographer for their in-person work hours, but also the editing time after!

Many good wedding photographers will spend time before the wedding scouting out good photoshoot spots at your venue, etc. I know I put in a lot of additional time scouting and brainstorming for my clients because I want to give them the best photos possible. All of those hours really do add up and contribute to how a wedding photographer prices their services!

Extra wedding photographer costs


However, there are some additional costs to be aware of that can raise the price of your wedding photography. For example, if travel fees aren’t included in the photographer’s normal rates (or you’re planning on flying in your photographer from another state, etc.), you need to keep that in mind when budgeting for a photographer. 

Additional Hours

When choosing a wedding photographer, you should consider whether you may want to hire them for an extra hour or two than the length of their normal package. Be sure to ask the photographer how much this extra time would cost.


Another extra cost to plan for is prints (versus digital copies) of your photos. Most wedding photographers don’t automatically include physical prints in their packages, so ask about pricing for prints if that’s something you are interested in.

Note: Videography services are different from photography services. If you’d like a video of your wedding, you’ll likely have to hire someone in addition to your photographer.

Bride getting ready with her family for Montana wedding. Photographed by Montana wedding photographer Ashley J Photography.

What to consider about wedding photography pricing

When you’re comparing the average wedding photographer cost to the pricing of the wedding photographers you’re considering hiring, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • What is their experience level? The more of a novice the photographer is, the cheaper their services should be. Conversely, it is expected that more experienced photographers that are in high demand will charge much more. 
  • Do their services match what you want? In other words, do their photography packages have the services you want? If not, they may not be the best fit for you.
  • Do you like their work? Does it fit your style? Check out the photographers’ portfolios to see whether you like their previous work. Does their photography style match the kind of photos you want? Do they specialize in shooting the wedding type and/or aesthetic you’re going for?
Bride + Groom laughing and walking in the Montana field. Photographed by Montana wedding photographer Ashley J Photography.

Why it is worth it to splurge on a wedding photographer?

I hope this explanation of the average wedding photographer cost and what goes into wedding photography services has clarified things for you! I mentioned it at the beginning of this post, but I truly believe that wedding photography is an investment.

Think of it this way: After all your guests go home, the party has been cleaned up, your dress is in storage, and your bouquet has been dried…your photos are the main thing you will have to remember this amazing day. It makes sense to splurge in this area because you’ll get to enjoy the results forever!

If you have any other questions about my wedding photography pricing (or anything about weddings for that matter), let’s chat! I’d love to hear from you!


Close up of bride smiling at groom as they embrace on their wedding day. Image overlaid with text that reads Want to Know What The Average Wedding Photographer Cost Is?
Bridesmaids surround a bride as they smile during the reception. Image overlaid with text that reads Average Wedding Photographer Cost. Photo by Ashley J Photography.

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