Why does Wedding Photography Cost so Much?

February 1, 2023

If you’ve gotten married or engaged in the last 5 years you have definitely asked yourself this question: why does wedding photography cost so much? There are a lot of personal things involved in pricing wedding photography and there is definitely something to be said about the old adage “you get what you pay for”. I am going to some really basic, objective breakdowns today to help make sense of where all the money goes!

Aiden Laurette Photography | Man and woman walk on beach

There are 6 categories of expenses involved in each wedding for a photographer, and they can help you understand if you’ve ever asked yourself “why does wedding photography cost so much?”

They are:

1.The cost of physical gear needed for each wedding

2.The cost of the digital gear and requirements for each wedding

3.The cost of time put into each wedding by every member of your photographer’s team

4.The cost of marketing

5.The cost of education

6. The cost of taxes and insurance

Aiden laurette photography | bride and groom pose in fall wedding

Let’s dive in and discuss how these six things factor in. First, gear.

  1. Physical Gear

This list includes the obvious things like cameras and lenses and flashes.  It also includes less obvious things like styling mats and accessories for your details.  More than that, it includes all the gear in the office when your photographer gets home- computer, ipad, editing tools etc. 

A quick and not complete list of my own equipment used for every wedding.

  • 2 Nikon Cameras and the leather harness they hang on my back
  • 5-6 lenses
  • 3 flashes and 2 light stands with light umbrellas
  • 5 extra batteries, 12 memory cards
  • Details styling kit(Styling mat, ribbons, silver tray, vintage stamps and ribbon spools, vintage scissors, extra florals)
  • An iPad
  • A Desk top computer
  • A laptop Computer
  • Several External hard drives

2.Digital Gear

What I mean by digital gear is the cost of all the things contained within a photographer’s computer.  Almost all programs, and website providers require a fee to be used. The most common things that most photographers spend a monthly fee for are; editing software, website and domain hosts, client management software (CRM), bookkeeping and invoicing software, digital marketing programs (think Canva etc), Organizational software (like Trello) and cloud storage.  

Some of these seem obviously needed; editing software being the most obvious!  You can’t provide a wedding gallery without editing it. Although some of the others may seem less obvious, they are equally important. Although a website may not seem as necessary as editing software, if your photographer didn’t have a cloud storage service, they run the risk of losing all of your beautiful images!  As for things like CRM, bookkeeping etc are all needed to keep things like scheduling sessions, contracts, couples etc under control in a photographer’s mind!

aiden laurette photography | bride and groom fall wedding

Time and behind the scenes work

3. The cost of Time

For every wedding booked, a photographer and their team will spend 80-100 hours on an 8-10 hour wedding day. Here’s exactly what that looks like:

-Shooting the actual wedding day and Engagement shoot: 18-24 hours(Remember there’s usually two photographers)

-Post Processing of Images-30 hours

-Marketing- 10 hours

-Emails and communications- 10 hours

-Blogging and Website work- 8 hours

-Other Admin work- 5 hours

aiden laurette photography | why does wedding photography cost so much?

When you add all of those together, suddenly the hourly rate of a photographer tends to make a lot more sense.  

4. The Cost of Marketing

There is always a cost to marketing, whether you’re using google, social media or any other platform.  Although this one may not seem like it is an expense per wedding, if a wedding photographer doesn’t market themselves, then you may never find them! 

aiden laurette photography | bride and groom on beach

5. The cost of Education

Lastly, the cost of education- this is a big one.  A wedding photographer needs to know SO much about lighting, the use of their cameras, editing etc! An undereducated, under experienced lower priced wedding photographer is a recipe to be unsatisfied with your wedding photos! 

Ok, so that is the most basic breakdown of costs I can manage for a wedding photographer, and to help answer the question “why does wedding photography cost so much?”.  I hope this helps you if you have ever felt your eyes glaze over while looking at wedding photographer pricing guides!  Let me know in the comments if there has ever been other parts of wedding photography you’ve had questions about! 

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

Choosing an Incredible Wedding Photography Experience

Should I do a First Look at my Wedding?

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