Shopping around for a photographer may be one of the more stressful wedding planning tasks because of the sheer importance of the job. After you’ve narrowed down vendors that produce the style of snapshots you envision for your own day, you’ll want to make sure you’re asking them all the right questions. And once you do that, you need to focus on the package inclusions.
What should you look for when purchasing a wedding photography package? What should be included versus what would you like to be included? Here’s the breakdown:
First things first, make sure that you know the ins and outs of the pricing policy. Know the package cost and what the possible payment plans look like. This will help with your budgeting and what you need to remember to have on the big day (including gratuities).
Moreover, be sure to understand the contract which should include a cancellation policy, refund policy, as well as the photographer’s plan B in case of an emergency or sickness on their part.
And finally, what pieces of the package should you be sure to make sure they’ve included? Here’s the list:
An engagement session
A 2nd photographer
Coverage of the entire event including pre-wedding, ceremony, portraits, and reception
Inclusion of proofs, prints, albums, and/or USB drive with photos
Travel and accommodations when needed
High-resolution, edited photographs
Permission to print letter
Sometimes photographers will have a la carte options available that you can add on. Keep in mind some of these options come in traditional packages as well including:
Password protected online gallery for both you and family/friends to view
Extra coverage hours
Other Expert Opinions
“When researching wedding photographers, be sure to read the information about their pricing and packages carefully—these tend to differ widely from photographer to photographer and can greatly affect wedding photography pricing. A few items and services to look for include:
Time: Wedding photographer prices typically include between six hours and an unlimited amount of coverage. The more time you’d like your photographer to cover your event, the more you’ll have to pay. Additional hours will cost extra.
Travel: Does your photographer have to travel a long distance to your event? You may have to pay a per-mile charge if he or she is driving to your wedding, or you might have to pay for airfare and accommodations for a destination wedding.
Second Shooters/Staffing: Will your photographer have a second shooter or assistants present? If so, expect to shell out more.
Editing: A large part of your photographer’s time will be spent editing and retouching your wedding photos to make sure they look absolutely amazing.
Images: Your wedding photographer’s cost should include the actual images. Digital files can be provided to you in a variety of ways including in an online gallery and/or via a USB drive.
Print release: Many wedding photography packages include a “print release,” which means that you can use the photos for your own personal use. However, be aware that you will likely not have a full “copyright release,” so you don’t own the photos and can’t sell them, and that your photographer can use your photos for marketing purposes.
Prints: Some photographers include photo prints (or a print credit—money you can put toward purchasing prints) in their wedding photography rates. While you don’t have to purchase your prints through your photographer, they’ll likely come out better if you do.
Albums: Your photographer may offer a wedding album as part of his or her package. You can choose whether you’d like to design and purchase your album through your photographer or do it through another service.
Additional shoots: Some photographers include an engagement shoot in their package (62 percent of couples do a pre-wedding engagement shoot). Other shoots that will likely cost extra include bridal portraits, trash the dress sessions, or coverage of your rehearsal dinner.” – WeddingWire
The duration of one photographer taking photographs on your wedding day. Usually the package details “up to 6 hours”, or “up to 8 hours”, or “from ceremony until the speeches”. The length of time of the photographer taking photographs obviously affects the price of the package.
2. A second photographer
Some wedding photographers offer the option to hire a second photographer. Most wedding photographers assume the second photographer will be there for the same length of time as the main photographer.
3. A pre-wedding photo session
It may include a pre-wedding photo session. This is a session that takes place months before the wedding. Some people also call it an engagement photo shoot. It’s like a play shoot where you can get to know your photographer, and they get to know you.
The package might include a USB memory stick with the edited photographs in high resolution (this means you can use the images to make your own prints or albums online, using the suppliers you choose).
5. A certain number of digital photographs
The package should say how many photographs you can expect to receive after your wedding.
6. A certain number of prints
Traditionally, photographers would include a selection of prints (6″x4″, or 7″x5″, or a large one for the wall, but not many photographers do that these days).
7. An online gallery
Most photographers will give you access to your own password-protected online gallery, so you can share the photos with family and friends. Often this gallery allows you and your relatives to purchase individual prints at prices set by the photographer.
8. A wedding album
It might include a wedding album. This is also difficult to compare, as there are so many album suppliers out there. Check out the ARTICLE ABOUT WEDDING ALBUMS I wrote here.
9. A large frame or canvas
It might include one framed wedding photograph or a canvas print for your wall. It should say the size of the frame or canvas (or other product), and when you can expect to receive it.
10. A preview album
It might include a preview album which is a photo book showing all edited photographs printed in an inexpensive book. This is not a wedding album.
11. A video with the best photos
The photographer might create a little video with music showing the best photos of your wedding.
12. The price / deposits
The package should detail all the elements that are part of the photographer’s service. It should show a price, either including or excluding VAT. It should also spell out clearly how much of a deposit is required to secure the booking, and when the payment for the full package price is due. This varies from country to country. Here in Scotland, it is common to have all the fees paid approximately one month to 2 weeks before the wedding.
The photographer should also let you know what payment methods they accept, such as BACS (bank transfer), cheque, card payments and so on.