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planning a frugal weding photography copy

Are you planning a wedding on the frugal side? A few hang ups is finding a way to make photography and music affordable. Here are 10 tips that will help you out!


Capturing your wedding memories into beautifully framed photographs is a must! But…we are on a budget.

Prices for wedding photography vary, but the average spent is $1,754. I checked in my area and some of the top photographers packages started (yes, started) at $5,000! It’s a big business (around $3.7 billion big). This may seem like you’re going to be stuck paying full price, but there’s a few ways you can use the size of this industry to your budget’s advantage.

1. Hire a Rookie

As a I said before, the wedding photography business is booming; however, not all photographers are equal! This means good and bad for couples seeking a photographer.

The good: as all photographers are not equal, their prices will surely match. Top photographers have no trouble filling their work schedules, but a new photographer does not a have a base of work or a reputation to get him/her work.

The bad: rookies are rookies for a reason. Your job is to figure out why. Have you caught them as they are breaking into the industry? Or, do they lack talent or accountability?

If you can find a new photographer that is just right, you two will be greatly helping each other out. New photographers in a scramble to establish themselves will sometimes offer package deals where you can get engagement photos, bridal portraits and the entire wedding day covered for the cost of other photographers for only the ceremony! The lesson here: it’s worth shopping around.

2. Negotiate

Reason #2 to shop around. After you’ve contacted a few photographers and recorded their prices, you have ammo to possibly save more. Negotiating doesn’t guarantee savings, but it never hurts to try.

If your photographer won’t budge on their original quote, try to work parts of competing photographers packages into theirs for at least a comparable product for the original price. Remember, it’s at least worth a try…

frugal wedding

3. Avoid Saturday

Saturdays are a big day for weddings and other big events. So venues, photographers and even catering will be more expensive that day. I’ve been to beautiful weddings on Sundays and even on Fridays and I’m sure they were scheduled to save money!

From the view of a photographer, shooting a Friday or Sunday wedding could be very advantageous because they could possibly fit two weddings into one weekend. Another way you and your photographer can help each other. You save and they profit!

4. Limit a Photographers Time

This is a good one. If your photographer charges by the hour, consider limiting their time. Have them there for the entire ceremony, pictures afterwards and then only part of the 2-4 hour long reception. Could save you a lot!

frugal wedding 2

5. D.I.Y. Albums & Prints

**Updated – When looking for a photographer, make sure your agreement includes a disk of edited images. Take this and take care of printing your images on your own. I’ve seen prints for a penny each and photo books for FREE! There are too many online photo deals to be paying someone else.

Be absolutely sure that the agreement between you and your photographer allows this! I know it’s your wedding, but copyright laws give all rights to the photographer. The key word will be that you have permission to use your digital images however you like. Some photographers will be against this, so make sure everything is very clear well before the wedding.

See the latest photo deals on photo books, enlargements, prints and more.

6. Hire a Friend

Hiring a close friend to take care of all your photography needs is an option. I’ve heard mixed reviews from people. Some knew somebody who was willing to snap pictures the entire time and had the talent to make them look great. While some of my other friends later regretted not hiring a professional.

If you’re going to go the friend route, give them an incentive to do a good job. Pay them! I’ve heard figures of $100-$500 thrown around on top of one friend who payed using Starbucks gift cards.

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The biggest decision to make about videoing your wedding is if you really want to. Your wedding pictures will be displayed in your home and your family’s home for the rest of your life. How many times will you watch the video?

If you choose to pay for professional videography, here’s few tips that will keep it on the cheap side. Remember, many of the photography tips will still apply.

7. DIY Editing

Pay for all the camerawork but take care of the editing yourself. Editing is very time consuming, so you can negotiate a big price reduction by simply paying a professional for 1 day of work.

You then have two options. Learn to edit video yourself through a series of trial and error and “How to” YouTube videos. Or, find a friend who has some skills in that subject. Either way, your wedding video will be tailored to your liking!

8. Get Package Deal

If a business offers, take care of your photography and video needs with a package deal. Paying for them together tends to be cheaper than splitting it up.

frugal wedding 4


If music for your ceremony is not provided, this results in another headache. Also, do we go band, DJ or save money with neither? Here’s some help:

9. Find Talented Friends

Let your friends share their talents with you and all your beloved as you walk down the aisle. Think about your peers who can strum the guitar, play the violin, or impress with the piano. As long as they can play a few select songs they’re perfect for the ceremony.

If you’re struggling to find candidates, think about your friends with kids who take music lessons. This will add a musical and cuteness factor to your ceremony. Although, I’d be sure to hold some sort of audition beforehand.

10. Band or No Band?

When shooting for a frugal wedding, hiring bands or professional DJs miss the mark. But no worries, you can provide your own music and still have a fun reception.

Provide your own music cheaply by borrowing a sound system. Try your local school, your church or a friend who has invested a lot of money in his home theater. Once you have a set up, find somebody to be in charge of queuing up songs and taking requests. In the end, this can be free!

See more ways to save on weddings.

    • Sarah

      I love your money saving tips. I am a wedding photographer and just wanted to note a couple of things…”When you hire a photographer, all the pictures taken for your event are completely yours. After they’ve been digitally edited you will receive a disk with every single one” – this statement is not true. While some photographers offer a cd/usb/digital download of images from a wedding they will very rarely be all of the images taken. If a photographer is giving out all the images, most likely they are not editing any of them. We take anywhere from 1500-3000 images during a typical wedding and actually edit and show the couple between 300-800. Also many times digital files will not be included in a wedding photography package especially with higher end photographers and even if they are, there are often restrictions on how they may be used. For example they may be lower resolution and will not print well at larger sizes. Per Federal Law, the copyright of photographs produced always belongs to the photographer regardless of who they were taken of, where they were taken or whether or not there was compensation. All of this should be clearly indicated in the contract signed with the photographer. If you are considering a photographer (other than a friend) make sure that you sign a contract. If they don’t have a contract that is a large red flag about their legitimacy.

    • guest

      Don’t skimp on photography. Dumbest mistake I’ve made in my life. I chose a neighbor (with experience) because they were the cheapest. Despite looking at a portfolio of their work, I ignored friends to hire a higher end photographer. My pictures were not that great, nothing really “wedding” worthy. Now that I look back at the photos, even 12 years later, I most certainly regret it. I should have cut back somewhere else. The photos are a part of your lifetime memories. Music – not so much. Decorations – not so much. Flowers (except those for your photos) not so much. Don’t go cheap on your photographer.

      • SB

        I agree! The only regret of my wedding day–crappy photographer and pictures! Believe me people, save everywhere else, but not the photography!

    • photographer

      Ditto Sarah!!!! She is exactly right. Photographers always own the copyrights of their work! Please do some research before writing articles like this.

      • Hannah

        We paid $1200 for photography with full rights to use the photos however we wanted.

    • Melissapepin

      I’m a wedding photographer and have been for 10 years and #5 is absolutely incorrect. According to MY state laws, I own the image. And as a business person if I sell a copyright release to a client…even if they get the download or receive a disk of images to print on their own…I still own the images. I’d hate for people to see this post and be so misinformed.

    • Guest

      I really hope this is satirical. You are not buying cheap, low-quality products that you’ll never even use again from Walmart, you are investing in your freakin’ wedding day; a day you get to experience only once throughout your short, precious existence. I know many brides are on a budget and that is completely understandable, but many of your statements, especially when it comes to hiring artists, is ultimately degrading. You should never skimp out on your wedding photographer, even if it means you have to practically get married in your living room or out in the middle of nowhere to afford an amazing one.

    • RMC

      Check craigslist for services as well. I happened upon a new videography business looking to plump their portfolio – they shot our non-traditional wedding (small wedding, non-traditional setting, 30- and 40-somethings) for free (we tipped $100). We were happily surprised to find out that they had been video professionals in news and now their wedding packages started at a minimum of $1700!

      I also saved by having a family friend do the photographs, which honestly were adequate, not stunning (and employed disposable “table cameras”). But after 10 years of marriage we only have 1 or 2 on display anyway. One of the nice things about “owning” the photos this way was being able to include a few photos in all of the Thank you cards after the wedding.

    • NCMTNgirl

      When I was a Bride I was on a budget and selected a professional photographer’s assistant to be the main photographer on my wedding. At the time I was OK with that because of the price. So… I get it. However, as I look back I have so much regret.
      I am now a Professional Wedding Planner and I highly recommend that Brides to hire a good, professional planner. It induces great anxiety for me if they don’t. I know you need to save money, but this is not the place to go for the free or cheapest option. This is one of the things in life you can’t do over… and you are already investing money into the day so you should have great pictures of it. A great photographer can make a cheap wedding look amazing and a poor photographer can make a stunning wedding look cheap. Not to mention the stress or possible damage to a relationship if you have to deal with an unexpected problem with a friend or family member. A Professional Wedding Planner can help you save money (quite possibly save enough to cover their fees and then some) and advise you on where to splurge and save. But that is a whole different topic. Brides, please use a good photographer… even if you can’t afford the package with all the prints and albums (those can be ordered later)! At the very least hire a professional for your Bridal Portraits.

    • SArdent

      These are pretty bad. Especially the music – if you want a first dance, being announced on entry, cake cutting, bouquet toss – you need someone to coordinate that. Also renting sound equipment is expensive and a friend or relative is not going to know how to operate it without training. A non-pro is not going to know how to queue up the music so the beats match. (that is what your DJ is doing when he is listening to the next song with headphones while your current song is playing – or watching that next song on his computer to know when to cut in on-beat). Your guest will have to stop dancing and when the new song starts to get on beat or you are going to have to stop the music and start the next song. A DJ also makes sure that the reception and wedding events happen when you want them to happen. He meets with you and asks you to line out the flow of events. If doing the ceremony – he lines up the wedding party if there is no wedding coordinator or a flustered relative who is having a meltdown. It’s worth it to have all your planned activities happen without you or a frantic relative trying to coordinate it. You can get photographer in training, You can skip flowers, skip the wedding coordinator and have a barbeque – but if you don’t want chaos at the reception, you need a DJ who is trained to control the flow of events. You get more value from them than other wedding vendors.

    • Julie Klima

      Photographs and video are the ONLY concrete, lasting moments from a wedding day- a day that costs thousands of dollars. Just ordering invitations can cost $1,000-$8000. Don’t ever skimp on wedding photography! That is what people put on their wall to look at, that is what people print and put in albums to show future generations. Not the flowers, not the over priced venue, not the food. But I’m also not saying get the most expensive photographer and their most expensive package! As a wedding photographer, I have packages ranging from just me shooting, to having me & a 2nd photographer and also having everything plus an album. A good photographer wont pressure you into getting the most expensive package. I always help my clients choose the amount of a shoot time they need for their wedding- not too much or too little. A professional photographer will have enough experience to be able to help guide the bride with how much coverage they think is necessary.