Is Photography Worth Blowing Budget?

posted 9 months ago in Photos/Videos
Post # 2
21 posts

I am getting married in the Chicago area too and was surprised how expensive Chicago photographers were. I actually found photographers who are from nearby cities (like Milwaukee) were cheaper even with travel. Have you looked into this?

Post # 3
73 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2020

Photography was the second vendor I booked (after venue, mostly because she wouldn’t confirm the date until I had a confirmed venue), and we’re paying $7,000 for engagement shoot and 10 hours of photography, includes a second shooter for the wedding day, on a total $35,000 budget. We’re not getting a wedding album though. My photographer said she didn’t even get an album because she didn’t think she would take the album out to look. She just had prints framed and hung on the wall. The album is kind of a ridiculous price, and originally I wanted the album too but I ended up cutting it out based on her recommendations, otherwise it would have been another $1,500.


I don’t think anyone can really tell you what is or isn’t worth it. I also felt like photography was really important so that is our 2nd biggest expense after food. That being said though, if you have to scrimp on everything else just so you can hire the best photographer, your photos may or may not turn out the best. I realized that some photographers take amazing photos also because the setting was beautiful, so balance is important too.


If I were you, I’d remove the wedding album, and maybe opt for a shorter shoot time so I can still have the photographer for the most important parts of the day. Does your top choice offer a la carte pricing? Like instead of doing everything, just pick and choose which parts you want to get.

Post # 4
98 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

If you are willing to cut costs in other areas then I say YES! I totally agree with that it’s all that will be left after the wedding and that’s important! We’re spending about $7000 on a $35000 budget in a Texas city. 9 hours, second shooter, 10×10 fabric wedding album, engagement shoot. However I will say that’s high end here. But it’s what I wanted! I even almost lost a $900 deposit with a photographer I booked with before my current one because I was so torn up about making the wrong choice when I should’ve gone with my gut!! (Didn’t lose the money because she thankfully booked another couple that day) long story short, yes!! As long as you feel comfortable and make sure you’re allocating enough of the rest of your budget to everything else that’s important to you or costly!

Post # 5
5572 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: July 2018

While photography might be with blowing the budget on, I think 6k for a 20k wedding is too much.  I think you will struggle to cut everything else back to make up for it. 

Post # 6
226 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

Photography is very important in my opinion but so is sticking with your budget. 2000$ over your orignal budget is too much. If you really like the photographer you can ask if there’s anyway they can reduce the price. My photographer took out the wedding album out and it made the package 400$ cheaper. We ended up making our own photo album online instead. If the price isn’t budgeable I would go back to the the drawing board and figure out other options. 

Post # 7
2139 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

chyangra :  Chicago bee here. Chicago weddings are EXPENSIVE. If you spend 6k on photography other areas will sereverly be cut. 14k left for venue, food, drink, DJ is not really realistic in Chicago. Keep in mind MANY Chicago venues that aren’t hotels or banquet halls have a venue fee between 3 – 8k just for the venue ALONE.

FWIW: All in our wedding was about 30k for 100 people and spend 3.5k on photos which included an engagement shoot, album, 8 hrs of photography, and a second shooter 


Post # 8
72 posts
Worker bee

Another Chicago bee here! Spending $6050 for eight hours of photo coverage, two shooters, and a 2 hour engagement shoot. Our photographer charges $1800 for an album! We’re going to make our own album out of our engagement photos, and if we don’t love it, we’ll pony up for the album. 

Our planner suggests we might need to add another hour of coverage once our day of timeline is set. Everything (ceremony/reception) is happening in the same space, and we’re getting married in the heart of downtown so we can walk to photo sites instead of bussing around the city. 

That said, at current price point our photographer is… 4% of our wedding budget? She actually was the most affordable of the options our planner presented, but we loved her style (fine art, shoots 1/2 on film) the most. 

Post # 9
549 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2020 - Summer Camp!

How large is your wedding? You might be able to cut down to one photographer if it’s smaller, or as others have said, cut down on the hours a bit/cut the album. I’m going for a low-key budget wedding (around 10k) and ultimately decided to add engagement photos because I want to be comfortable with our photographer. Plus it’ll be nice to have professional photos more in our natural environment. But it’s up to you which parts are most important. 

Post # 10
1505 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2019 - City, State


chyangra :  Chicago bee here too.  I was really paranoid about photography and have very high standards, but I was lucky to find Fox and Ivory (they’re on Insta).  Really lovely pictures (not like, crazy Nat Geo quality stuff but really beautiful), 2 shooters, 10 hours, and it’s like $3000.  They cut out a lot of the other prelim services to save costs (i.e., you won’t meet with them 3 times before hand, etc etc), but they chat with you a few weeks before your wedding, go over your shot list, all the important stuff.  Maybe worth checking out.  I’ve been very pleased with their service so far, and they have great reviews everywhere.  They’re shooting my wedding this November.

Post # 11
583 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

npcps :  Your budget is $150,000?!

Post # 12
72 posts
Worker bee

kooshball5 :  Approximately, yes. We’ve only booked planner, venue, band and photographer at this point and we’re totaling about $93k spend. Still need stationery, floral/decor, hair and makeup, chair upgrades and possibly welcome bags. We’re very fortunate to have our parents paying for our wedding (and rehearsal dinner, but that’s not in our budget spreadsheet and I’m not planning it, although I’d happily have it at a pizza or burger place) and I’ll be paying for my dress/accessories/ bridesmaid dresses separately. 

Post # 13
2513 posts
Sugar bee

I had a very similar budget (for both wedding & photography) and I did what 4yearengagement  suggests — booked an amazing photographer from a less expensive area and then paid travel fees. 

That said, while we did get over 10 hours of coverage, the other things you mentioned weren’t included in our package — engagement shoot, second shooter, and album. Albums are $$$, so I would scratch that from your list first. If you have a photographer who gives you the high res images and allows you to print them elsewhere, you can always design your album later on your own, or buy one from them later if you prefer. It also wasn’t a big deal to us that the engagement shoot was an extra — it was only 300 (+ travel fees) to add to our wedding package. And while a second shooter would have been nice, our photographer told us he generally worked alone and we trusted him. He did a great job. 

That’s just to say it might be worth reevaluating your priorities and thinking about which parts of a package are really necessary for you. Good luck! 


Post # 14
1044 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2015

We definitely spent a significant amount of our total on photography, because that was something I actually cared about. I have no regrets.

Some areas where we were able to lower costs: choosing a venue that looked nice by default and didn’t require decorating (once I saw the cost of chair covers my goal was to find a location that included attractive chairs); relatively low-cost invitations; no save-the-dates, just emails; no videographer, no band or DJ (daytime wedding and we don’t like dancing anyway); no floral centerpieces. I also got my dress at David’s Bridal without even looking at any higher-end stores. There’s definitely room to cut irrelevant things to save money for what you actually value, but ultimately your venue cost and number of guests will be the determining factor. If you want a certain number of guests in a nice place in Chicago, I’m not sure it will be feasible to do that for $14k. Assuming your budget is absolutely fixed, you really need to lock down your basic costs before committing to a photographer.

Post # 15
443 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2019

npcps :  you have a $150,000 wedding budget? That’s nuts! Zero judgement here, I’m all for everyone doing whatever they want, with whatever budget they want. So curious about what you’re going to do with that?! Can you tell us more about your wedding?

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