How to Save Money on Wedding Photography
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How to Save Money on Wedding Photography

Photography can take a pretty sizeable bite out of your wedding budget, and for good reason: You get what you pay for. Bad lighting, inconsistent quality, and missed opportunities will leave you with a pretty bleak wedding album. What a rotten way to remember the most important day of your life!

If you’re relying on Uncle Ted and his £50 point-and-shoot camera to capture the magic of your wedding day, I’m afraid you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

Yes, I am a professional wedding photographer and of course I’m going to tell you it’s a bad idea to let an amateur handle your wedding. But here’s what else I’ll tell you: There are ways to save without sacrificing an amazing wedding album.

1. Shop around. This is a no brainer, really. I would never advocate picking the cheapest photographer you can find (you get what you pay for, remember?) but I do recommend getting quotes from several photographers to find the best value. Not all wedding packages are created equal, and while getting 300 thank-you notes to hand out to your guests might sound like a great deal, if you’re only invited 150 people in the first place, that’s a lot of cards that are going to end up in the garbage when a framed wall portrait would have cost the same price and been put to better use.

2. Hire a photographer for the ceremony only. If you can’t afford to hire a professional to shoot the entire day, opt instead for photos of just the ceremony. Some wedding photographers offer special discounts if you only need them for an hour or two because it frees them up to shoot more than one wedding in a day. Plus you’ll get top-quality shots of the most important part of the day: the actual marriage.

3. Leave candid shots up to the guests. In some churches, only one person (the wedding photographer) is permitted to take pictures during the service because cameras (flash photography, in particular) are considered distracting to a ceremony that is supposed to be very solemn. But you’re guaranteed to have dozens of cameras readily available at the reception, where all of your guests will want to snap photos of you and your new husband, the cake, your dress, the decorations...everything. I don’t recommend leaving it up to your guests cover your reception photography—simply because you will be sacrificing the style, composition, colour, etc. that a professional will give you—but ask them to snap candid shots of people laughing, dancing, mingling, etc. These aren’t usually the photos you have blown up and displayed on a wall in your home, so even if they’re not the best quality, it really won’t matter.

4. Pick only the package you really need. A deal is only a deal if you need it, so be realistic when choosing a wedding photography package. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of your wedding, and if your photographer comes back with an amazing collection of shots it will no doubt be difficult to choose only a few. But are you really going to need seven 16-by-20 framed prints for your house? Make a list ahead of time of the prints you’ll need for yourself and others (parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.) and stick to it. Most photographers offer some sort of an album anyway—so you’ll still have all of those amazing shots, just not hanging on every wall of your flat.

5. Get married in the off-peak season. Depending on the time of year you choose to marry, you may find a wedding photographer who’s willing to negotiate a cheaper price because it’s his slow time. Don’t expect to snag a deal in the middle of summer or even around the holidays, but a photographer’s schedule may be light in mid-March or November.

6. Ask your guests to contribute. Talk to your photographer about setting up a photography gift registry so that your guests can contribute to the cost of the wedding photography instead of buying a gift or giving cash. Work with your photographer to come up with a price list that you can send out with your invitations. You could end up getting your photography for free!

Even if you’re working with a tight wedding budget, don’t underestimate the value of hiring a professional wedding photographer. There are no second chances when it comes to your wedding—you either get the shot the day it happens or you don’t get it at all.

Larry Campbell is a professional wedding photographer serving London and all of the U.K. Visit him online at larrycampbellphotography.co.uk.

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