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Affordable Wedding Photography: What to Ask For

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Affordable Wedding Photography: What to Ask For

I reached out to area photographer Beth Rose to talk about affordable wedding photography. My goal is to save people time and money and to give photographers connections to couples who need the services they provide but simply don’t have the budget for the normal type of services wedding photographers provide.

Included in this post are some of her gorgeous wedding photos. And at least 4 out of these 6 weddings had total budgets under $10,000 – she’s my go-to when it comes to affordable wedding photography advice.

CHEAPWAYSTO: First of all, my advice to couples is always to never skimp on photography in the budget. If you care about having quality, lasting images and preserving those memories, this is one area not to cut corners. Would you agree?

BETH ROSE: We pulled off our entire wedding for under $1,000 (not including my dress and accessories which were another $1000). It was absolutely everything we wanted … except the photography. We had great friends, who were great photographers, do it for us (for almost free), but they weren’t wedding photographers. And that just isn’t the same.

You are right. I don’t just say this because I am a wedding photographer, but that is one place that you do not want to skimp. Having said that, you can only afford what you can afford, so it’s tricky finding quality in that price range.

When breaking down wedding budget items, the generally accepted percentage to spend on photography is 12% of your total wedding budget. For a $10k budget, that’s $1,200. For a $5k budget, that’s only $600. What price range should a budget bride look for and still expect quality?

Professionals start well over $2000. Then you’ve got your amateurs who are somewhere under $1000. There’s not much in the middle. It’s nearly impossible to find someone who is worth the price range you are talking about because by the time a photographer works their way that far up they are spending so much themselves on equipment, advertising, etc., that they wouldn’t make anything at that rate.

Nearly impossible, but not, right?

Yes. There are a few exceptions. Photographers in “special” situations. My sister hired someone for her wedding who was just on the verge of re-branding and repricing. They had crossed the threshold into professional territory, but could fit her in just before making the change (with a few concessions of course: i.e. she got a limited number of images).

What about your services? 

I am actually in a special situation. We have four children ages 9 months to 7 years, and I home school them. My packages did start at $2,300, but because of how busy I am at home I am not hunting for weddings anymore (I am moving into another niche). Weddings are so very involved from the first meeting to the last delivered image. They require so many hours of work (not just the day of), hence the hefty price tag. But I will still take on weddings that fit into my life. In other words, shorter, smaller, simpler weddings. This gives me the opportunity to offer something that would appeal to your market. And finding someone appealing with the skill, experience and overall can-do attitude is rare.

What advice would you give couples who are looking for quality, professional photography, but just don’t have the money for the top-of-the-line photographers?

Finding a professional photographer at a “bargain” is not easy. Couples will have to do some probing trough emails and phone calls directly to photographers. [Editor’s note: If you’re in Nashville, you can start with my post, “10 Affordable Nashville Wedding Photographers.”] You can of course forgo the bells and whistles. People really want to go home with all of the digital images from their wedding, but that can turn out to be a huge waste of money. It’s expensive (if a photographer will let go of them at all) and quality prints are better obtained through the photographer who will use a trusted lab that is calibrated to their images. To use a Music City analogy: you wouldn’t pay a studio and musicians and a producer tons of money to record your song and then try to play it on an 8-track player. It would be a waste of your money because the quality would be lost. Albums and wall art are priceless and sometimes you can get a deal if you are willing to purchase them upfront as part of your package.

Could couples ask for help in order to afford better photography?

Something special that I offer is “gift credits” in my galleries to all of my couples. It’s a win/win: friends and family can contribute credits that the bride and groom can use toward the purchase of art, and it drives traffic to my site. They can put one of my cards in with save the dates, or my info in shower invitations, or even add my site to their registry. And each gallery is custom, so if there are specifics that they are hoping for (like a 20×24″ canvas) we can make specific gift credits for those that their guests can easily purchase for them.

There are so many price shoppers out there, but there’s a difference between getting a good price and getting a good deal. Weddings are about getting married, not pictures. But you should still look for the best that you can afford!

Thanks, Beth Rose! If you’re interested in contacting Beth Rose to ask about her services for your Nashville-area wedding, contact her through her site, bethrose.com.

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