How to get the Wedding Photographer of Your Dreams on a Budget

So, to start off I touched on a bit of this on my instagram. (@scarletandsaltphoto)

Being a wedding photographer, I can definitely say yes, those of us who are seasoned and professional, are definitely not cheap and usually make the Top 4 in “largest dent in the wedding budget.”

But we have a good reason for it. Your wedding photos will be the one standing memory of one of the most important days of your lives as a couple.

Most engaged couples don’t realize that just because your wedding budget may be tight (lets say $15,000.00 for a traditional 150-200 guest wedding) that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice wedding photos that are insta-gold!

Coming from a photographer stand-point, spending money on photos to me doesn’t sound as painful as it might seem to regular engaged couples. But I can promise you it pays off.

The first key to getting the photographer of your dreams to photograph your wedding is… Just book them!

Yes, this may be “easier said than done” but it’s true. If you really want good quality, lasting photos for generations to come it’s what you should do. There’s no sense in throwing an epic giant party for the two of you as newlyweds and having mediocre documentation.

So - say your photographer costs $6,000.00 and now you freak that you have spent nearly half of your 15 thou budget.

Don’t freak!!! (again easier said than done)

There are so many ways that you can make room for the most important things to you on your day! (Although, Photography in my honest opinion will always be at the very top of the list)

Here are a few simple ways to lower the cost of your traditional wedding to get your dream vendors.

1. Forego an expensive/fancy venue. PLUS, backyard weddings are totally in and most photographers would probably prefer that good juicy natural light anyway.

2. Stay financially frugal with your decor and other “materialistic” items for the day. Instead of giant out-of-season flower bouquets for you and your entire bridal party, opt for just greenery, fake flowers or other alternatives instead. That itself can literally save you thousands of dollars.

3. When you purchase decor, consider going second or even third hand. There are so many alternatives to buying brand new, especially in the wedding decor department. One of my brides from this year was set on getting a VW bus for her and her fiancé’s wedding photos this upcoming fall. So instead of paying literally thousands of dollars for a souped up photo booth bus, she posted on craigslist asking for help! A super kind man with the most perfect VW bus from her home town responded to her post and is willing to come out and make her bus dreams come true for absolutely free! You can’t get better than that!

4. Limit your bridal party or don’t have one at all. Yes of course you want to have all of our best girlfriends involved in some way, but there is more than one way to do so! Instead of having every one of your friends in the bridal party, have super fun bachelorette/bachelor weekends to make them still feel like they are a big part of your life! Friends more than likely will understand your choices and some of them might even be happy they didn’t have to spend money on hair, makeup, dresses, etc.

5. Forget about the idea of what a “traditional wedding” entails. Playing this card can be tough sometimes, coming from a large catholic family and town, most of us get married in the same church, rent the same spaces and invite the entire town. Let me just say this loud and clear, You have no obligation to do this if you do not want to! Your wedding is ultimately about the two of you and your immediate families (and some might even beg to differ on the families portion) Do what you as engaged couple want to do. Point blank! And if that means not sending an invite to Great Aunt Martha and Uncle Buck who you haven’t seen in 10 years then I say, do it!

6. Straight up contact the photographer you want, tell them how much you love them but they are out of your desired budget and ask what they can do to help you afford them. Some of us honestly will sometimes make exceptions to our pricing rules if you show a ton of love and admiration toward our work and what we do. And no this is not “sucking-up” we love people who constantly show love to us because we work super hard. (Yes we can tell the difference between people who say they love us and who actually mean it.)

The bottom line is, there are so many ways to get exactly what you want for your wedding. But it’s a game of give and take. Figure out what you can be flexible with, what you care most about and what you absolutely have to have.

In the case of photography, one important thing to remember is... flowers wilt and memories fade, but photos last. This goes without saying, yes of course, not everyone's favorite photographer is going to cost six grand, some may love local photographers who start in the ball park of two to three grand (like myself). The point is, you are getting someone you want, who’s images you are absolutely in love with.

In my experience, not a single person I know has regretted spending good money on a wedding photographer. I also know plenty of now married couples who tried to take shortcuts and ended up 100% regretting not spending more or are not fully in love with their photos the way that I believe every couple should be. When you are wedding "shopping” for any vendor try to make Budget Friendly a bonus, and not a requirement.

And anyway, what’s an epic party if there’s no epic proof, right?

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Michigan Based, Midwest Elopement and Wedding Photographer |

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