Investing In A Wedding Photographer

Being a wedding photographer can be one of the most time consuming jobs in the wedding industry, but at first glance not a lot of people would think that! I asked Kayla of Kayla Denae Photography to give us an inside look at the amount of time she spends working with her clients from when they hire her to the final end product.

Please keep in mind that this is Kayla’s process only and other photographers will vary of course!


As a photographer, can you give us a little inside look at the time you spend on each couple.... from when you book the client to their wedding day and then after their wedding day?

When a couple inquires, I always try to set up a coffee date (or Skype date) with them so that we can get to know each other and I can show them what a wedding day looks like. This takes about a total of 3-4 hours from the inquiry through the end of the meeting, because I also put together a gift and prepare for the meeting as well as arrive to the location early so that I can make sure we have a table to meet at!

Sending the contract, Engagement Session Style Guide, recommended wedding day timeline, and booking the Engagement Session is another 2 hours or so.

Shooting the Engagement Session is about 4 hours generally, which includes drive time and shoot time. Then culling and editing, exporting and uploading, and sending off the gallery takes another 7-10 hours.

Then we have all the communication back and forth about the wedding, which is usually anywhere from 1-5 hours throughout the time that I’m working with my couples.

Sometimes I do a venue walkthrough with/for my couples, which is usually a total of 4 hours. (I only do this if I haven’t shot at the venue before, so I can be fully prepared for the wedding day).

I send a questionnaire to gather all the info that I need, and schedule one final FaceTime chat with my couple the month of the wedding. This adds another hour-ish.

Then we have the wedding day - which is anywhere from 8-10+ hours of coverage (time we’re actually shooting), with an additional 2 hours of drive time (unless it’s further). Also, I usually arrive at least an hour early to scout the location and get started on photos early, so that we can stay ahead of the timeline.

And finally, editing the wedding. This includes culling (going through the photos and getting rid of any that are duplicates, or unflattering - I.e. if someone is blinking or making a funny face), organizing the photos into different segments of the day, backing up the files, editing, exporting, uploading, and sending. This can honestly range anywhere from 20-60 hours of work, depending on how long the day is and how many events we captured during the day. 

All this for a grand total of about 60 - 100 hours of work that goes into a wedding day package!


What can I expect to pay for wedding photography?

It totally depends on what you’re looking for :) 

If you’re looking to not pay too much, you might want to find someone who is newer to photography who may have some lower packages because they want to get more experience. This is totally okay, and totally understandable, because I was on a budget while planning my own wedding too. Just please, please, please, from the bottom of my heart, be careful!! This is your biggest, most important day of your life, and you want to make sure that you have photos that show how special it was.

This topic is so important to me because sadly, I didn’t have a huge budget and I paid $500 for my wedding photography! It was before I was a wedding photographer, so I didn’t know what I was looking for. But I valued photos so much!! And to this day, I still don’t look at my wedding photos. It’s so sad. I just wouldn’t wish this for anyone else!

There are some inexpensive photographers who will make your wedding look inexpensive, no matter how beautiful it was. And then there are experienced photographers who can take an inexpensive wedding and make it look like a million bucks. This is why I feel that wedding photography is so important!

All that to say - photography prices range from $1200 - 10,000+. It all depends on the style you’re looking for, how much coverage you’re wanting, and how much experience the photographer has. 

An experienced wedding photographer in California usually starts at around $3000 - $4000+. That’s a great starting point!