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How Much Should I Spend On Wedding Photography?

So wedding planning has started and the question of “How much should I spend on my wedding photography?” has came up. This detailed article will help answer your question and provide you with some recommendations on how to find the best wedding photographer for your budget.

When it comes to how much you should spend there is plenty of information and misinformation out there, it can be very overwhelming, with all of the things to think about such as price range, style, and personality. Many wedding blogs say to allocate a certain percent or amount. As wedding photographers, we understand what goes into a wedding and having worked in many locations, we can answer this question the best. With all this being said, we solely believe that budgeting for your wedding photography should be high on your list of priorities.

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Goals of this article

By the end of this blog you will know the following:

  • The myth of allocating 10% of your budget to wedding photography.

  • General price ranges of local Knoxville wedding photographers.

  • What factors influence the cost and should be important to you.

  • Is wedding photography overpriced?

If you already know how much you want to spend on a wedding photographer, but are having trouble choosing the right one, check out our article about how to choose a wedding photographer.

The 10% Myth

Allocating 10% of your wedding photography budget has been a trend set by major wedding websites, magazines and blogs. While these articles can serve as a starting point, they often lack the true expertise and knowledge that comes from someone actually working in the industry.

In 2019, the average cost of a wedding in the United States is $30,000, so applying the 10% rule would bring you to a wedding photographer with a price of $3,000, which is a decent amount, however, there is a hitch. $3,000 is the starting point of an average professional wedding photographer and usually is their basic package, doesn't your wedding deserve more than “basic” or “average”?

The problem is that if you truly value long-lasting memories and photographs, you would want to pay more than 10% for your wedding photography. In our experience, the couples that value wedding photography, build their budget around it. Instead of cutting down on their wedding photography budget, they opted for other solutions such as ordering wedding flowers online, getting married in the offseason and more.

We recommend finding a wedding photographers whose work you like the most and building your budget around them. Basically start from the top with priorities and work your way down, shaving from the bottom to prioritize your must-haves.

The Price Range of Knoxville Wedding Photographers

How much do Knoxville wedding photographers charge? The answer is a wide range that we have detailed below. From our market analysis research, we have found that most photographers in Knoxville and the surrounding can be grouped into certain price ranges.

$0 - $1500: Beginner. Someone just starting out
$1,500 - $2,500: Amateur. Building a portfolio.
$2,500 - $3,500: Professional. Has demand and can deliver consistently.
$3,500+: Established Professional. Likely has a unique style, service or product.

$0 - $1,500: The Beginner

A photographer in this price range would likely just be starting and have recently purchased their first camera. They are looking for whatever bookings they can get so that they can begin building their portfolio.

Pros: Cheap.
Cons: Not quality, no experience.

$1,500 - $2,500: The Amateur

Within this price range are usually wedding photographers that have worked as a second photographer before and are looking to get their own foot in the door. They are priced slightly below the average in order to be an enticing offer for brides. Professionals may also start in range if they are working with a volume business model and looking to photograph a high quantity of weddings per year.

Pros: Some experience.
Cons: Not quality.

$2,500 - $3,500: The Professional

This range is usually professional wedding photographers. They have photographed many weddings on their own and have the expertise and knowledge to deliver consistent and high-quality results.

Pros: High quality, experienced, consistent.
Cons: High budget.

$3,500+: The Established Professional

We have noticed that within this range are established wedding photographers that have a unique style, service or product, They have been around for a while and likely serve a clientele that demands perfection and impeccable experience.

Pros: Bets quality, best experience, unique photos, unique product.
Cons: High budget.

Keep in mind that the industry is constantly changing. Experience and expertise go up as time passes. The numbers that you see are not set in stone as each photographer is different. It is up to you to figure out what you value. And although sometimes you can find a “good deal” with a friend, just know that you will be forfeiting peace of mind and/or friendship if things go wrong.

The Magnolia Wedding Events Venue Photographer

What Factors Influence Price?

Here are some factors that determine wedding photography costs:

  • Experience & Expertise

  • Style

  • Product

  • Lifestyle

  • Location

Experience & Expertise

Don’t underestimate the value of an experienced photographer, a photographer that has photographed many weddings will have the knowledge of how to deal with difficult wedding situation, such as last-minute timeline changes, dark reception halls, rain during the wedding day, a stressed-out bride or groom, etc. An experienced wedding photographer will have photographed at a particular venue before and is familiar with different lighting scenarios. Even if the experienced wedding photographer has not had the opportunity to photograph at that venue, they will have the tools and knowledge to succeed in any environment.

Experience & Expertise usually involves the following skills:

Photography Skills: Actual photography technical skills like knowing how to operate a camera, where the best light is, how to position the bride or groom's body in a flattering manner, knowing what to do when flashes are not working. Other skills include having back up cameras, batteries, memory cards, reflectors.

Interpersonal skills: These skills do not come easily, working with other people and effectively communicating usually comes through experience. These skills are essential to direct large groups and poses without coming off as rude or insensitive.

Emotional skills: Knowing what to say is important, but not as important as knowing how and why to say it. An experienced professional can evoke emotion easily by a certain choice of words. Knowing when to speak, and when not to, would also be considered an emotional skill. As a wedding photographer, “reading the room” is critical.


Photography style will always be open to interpretation but does play a crucial role in the wedding photographer's price. Certain wedding photographers may only have a style that can be achieved by booking them, as such, they are able to demand a higher price as there is “less” competition, less photographers can create that style. Other styles may be mainstream, which is common today. It is very difficult to separate one photographer from the other as many use the same presets and editing.

It is also to be noted, that certain styles may require more production to create and as such may demand a high price, think Hollywood set vs local park. With a higher production quality that demands assistants to carry and position lighting equipment, one can expect a higher cost as good labor does not come free.

In review, a photographer that has a unique style, that can only be had by coming to them, will demand a high price for this uniqueness.

Learn more about the different styles of wedding photography.


If a wedding photographer includes a product as a deliverable, this deliverable bears a cost to the wedding photographer and must be compensated for. Many wedding photographers choose to go “digital-only” only including an online link to a gallery and having the client order artwork separately. Full-service photography studios, believe in providing a complete service, meaning you won't have to print.


This is an interesting factor that does play a part in a wedding photographer price. Some factors related to lifestyle are having a full-time job in addition to wedding photography, being married, having children and more. An individual that works a full-time job, may decide to use wedding photography as extra cash on the weekend, compared to a full-time wedding photographer that works year-round and has weddings support them. At the end of day, running a photography business is just like running any other business. Truth be told, wedding photography shares many of the expenses that other regular business have including payroll, bank fees, rent, utilities, insurance, company car, equipment, rental equipment, software, furniture, supplies, membership dues, travel, retirement, education, property tax, subscriptions, advertising, office equipment, legal fees, business phone, maintenance and more. If the wedding photographer works out of a studio, additional expenses will occur.


Location very well indeed plays a part in the price of a wedding photographer. This is mainly due to the cost of living. A wedding photographer in Atlanta, GA has a higher cost of living than one in Knoxville, TN, as such there will be a price difference to compensate for this.

Natural Knoxville Wedding Photographer

Is Wedding Photography Overpriced?

This is truly determined by an individual's values. Is a Mercedes Benz overpriced? To some it is, to some it isn't. Is a Rolex overpriced? To some it is, to some it isn't. Are Christian Louboutins expensive? To some they are, to some they aren't.

Photography is one of the only things that can grow with value as time goes on. Imagine you have a portrait of you and your partner that highlights the connection of you both, this portrait is a one of a kind, no other copies exist. 15 years from now I ask you to sell it back to me, what would you sell it for? Certain things are actually priceless, and memories are one of them.

More For More vs Less For Less

Some wedding photographers believe in providing more value, more products and more expertise for a higher price. Other wedding photographers may believe in providing less, for a lesser price. It all depends on the goals and ambitions of said wedding photographer.

In any ideal transaction, there must be a balance with both the consumer and the business winning. A transaction of more for less is unfair for the business while a transaction of less for more is unfair for the consumer.

In conclusion, with wedding photography, as well as most things in life, you will get what you pay for, but in the end, the quality will stand the test of time. Would you rather save a few bucks gambling with your wedding day memories? Or have peace of mind with a professional?

Only you can answer that.

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