How Much Does Wedding Photography Cost in Vancouver, BC in 2023 and 2024

Hey there, lovebirds!

How much does wedding photography cost? How much should I spend on my wedding photographer? These are some of the most common questions at the beginning of planning a wedding.

Planning a wedding is exciting but can be a lot to think about, especially when it comes to budgeting for all the different aspects of the big day. For many, it is their first time getting married and they have no idea how much things cost. This might be you. If so, read on!

But first, I want to debunk a couple of popular myths.

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Two Most Popular Myths of Wedding Pricing

Myth #1: Wedding Tax

The so-called “wedding tax” is a common belief that wedding vendors and services charge significantly more simply because they are for weddings. However, this is largely a myth (more on this in just a moment). There is a lot more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye. You may come to realize, as you continue planning for your wedding, that weddings often require more time and attention to detail than many other events. Most vendors and services charge based on the time, effort, and resources required for a particular job, regardless of whether it’s a wedding.

Having said that, I said “largely” a myth, because it is also partially true, but not in the sense that you might think. In reality, weddings are “high stakes” events, because there is no do-over, and quite a variety of different, on-the-spot situations that may require more gear and/or photography skills. This means that responsible and caring photographers will need to charge enough to compensate for the amount of investment they made in you, to ensure your memories are faithfully captured, beautifully documented, and safely backed up.

Myth #2: The 10% Photography Budget

There’s a popular myth floating around that you should spend around 10% of your overall wedding budget on photography. While this may seem like a reasonable guideline, it’s important to remember that every wedding is unique, and the cost of photography will vary depending on a number of factors.

In fact, there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to how much you should spend on wedding photography. The cost will depend on your specific needs and priorities, as well as the photographer’s experience, style, level of expertise, availability of a second photographer, differing qualities in album and printed artwork, as well as the amount of time and effort the photographer is willing to spend with you from beginning to end.

For some couples, photography may be a top priority, and they may be willing to invest more in order to ensure they get the best possible photos and experience of their special day. For others, photography may not be as important, and they may be more comfortable with a lower-cost option.

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How Much Should I Spend on My Wedding Photographer?

First and foremost, keep in mind that your photographs are the memories you’ll be looking back on for years to come!

How much you can expect to spend on a wedding photographer in Vancouver, BC really depends on your preferences, what you value, as well as the following:

  • Your wedding location and/or photographer’s location
  • Expertise/Artistry of the photographer
  • Experience of the photographer
  • Style (Ex. Trendy, timeless, etc) of the photographer and the photography
  • Physical Heirlooms offers (Ex. albums, wall art, prints, etc.)

Disclaimer: There may be amazing photographers within any price range. One cannot presume we can determine whether a photographer is “legit” based on price alone. This post is not meant to undermine any photographer, but acts as a general guide for couples to consider just how much wedding photography might cost.

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So let’s start exploring some pricing.

Below is a List of Price Ranges in the market of Vancouver, BC, based on the photographer’s experience and level of service:

Testing the Waters: $0 – 900

You might be able to find photographers who are just starting out, who are brand new to the game and need the experience and portfolio, for only a few hundred dollars. They might not have the proper gear, or understand how much work there is before, during, and after a wedding day.

How you might feel: Very risky. You may not feel confident that you’ll receive the photographs you’ll want to remember your day. If you are on an extremely tight budget, you might consider this route to at least get some photos.

Entry-Level: $1000 – 1500

This might be a newer photographer who has shot some weddings either by themselves, or shadowed a more experienced photographer in the past. It could also be a more experienced photographer who is offering this price for only a couple hours of coverage and a small package of digital images.

If the photographer is offering these prices for full day coverage, keep in mind that the more affordable it is, the more likely they may be inexperienced or may lack the skill that is necessary to full capture your wedding day.

How you might feel: Risky. You might feel unsure if they can pull it off. They may or may not have enough experience or the ability to make you comfortable and be natural in front of the camera. Research into whether they can handle different lighting scenarios during a wedding day.

Enthusiast / Intermediate-Level: $2500 – 3500

Typically, photographers in this price range have some experience and likely have the equipment required to “get the job done”. However, their business may be side gig, and therefore may not have a lot of experience or have dedicated/invested much into creating the best possible experience and results for their clients. If it is not a side hustle, they may need to take on a high volume of weddings, potentially resulting in less personalized attention for you and lower quality services/products.

How you might feel: Somewhat assured. Research into whether they can handle different lighting scenarios during a wedding day. Unlikely to offer quality albums or printed art within this price range.

From Established and Professional to Luxury: Starting prices range from $4000 to 6000+

Experienced photographers who may have invested a lot in creating the best possible experience and results for their clients. Photographers with these starting prices may offer customized services and make you feel at ease to capture genuine connections. They typically have invested in quality gear, and provide great experiences while skillfully capturing moments with artistic craftsmanship. High quality albums and museum-quality products may also be available to you.

Beware of photographers who charge higher prices based on pretty styled shoots in well-controlled environments, as they may lack experience managing fast-paced wedding days. Check whether their portfolio is mostly from styled shoots or real weddings.

How you might feel: Confident, having a peace of mind for your precious memories. You’ll likely feel well taken care of and have a sense of quality assurance. However, always research into and talk to the photographer before hiring them. Get to know them as a person. Do they make you feel comfortable? Do they offer a well thought-through, high-touch experience, consistent quality work, and long-lasting printed art?

It’s important to find someone who cares about you and your memories. I’m here to help you find a great fit, whether it’s me or someone else.

Schedule a free 15-minute call and I can point you to you a photographer who might be a good fit for you and your family!

So… How much should you spend on your wedding photographer?

Consider what’s most important to you – if photography is a top priority, it may be worth investing a bit more to ensure you get the best possible experience and end results. If you’re on a tight budget, there are definitely still options available to capture your wedding memories.

Whatever your choice is, look forward to much exciting times ahead!

Happy wedding planning!

For the curious…

WHY might a photographer charge what they charge…

Firstly, and foremost:

Weddings are HIGH-STAKE events for photographers. Since there are no do-overs, a responsible and ethical photographer will do all that they can to ensure your memories are captured properly AND that these photographs are safe. I’ve heard too many horror stories from past brides (not mine!) who complained of losing much if not all their memories because of reasons which could have easily been avoided with the proper precaution and backup methods (ex. shooting on dual-memory card slot cameras and/or on multiple cameras, having gear that can handle low-light situations, knowing how to use that gear, backing up your photographs on hard drive(s), backing up your photographs off-site/on the cloud, etc.).

Weddings are also COMPLICATED and HIGH-EMOTIONAL events and your photographer(s) will be with you pretty much from the start to the end of the event. There are many moving parts and pieces of a wedding day, and having someone with the proper experience will do wonders. You also want someone with whom you are comfortable and someone whom you trust to be with you all day. This person will need to have good communication and be willing to spend time with you not only on the wedding day, but also helpful to you before the day to ensure you have the best experience. And since someone’s time is one of the most precious and valuable resources, this of course comes with a cost, leading to the rest of the explanation below.

Secondly, but still important:

Most photographer are small businesses. If you’re curious, here’s a brief summary of what a photographer has to consider when they’re building their pricing, if they want to have a viable business that can sustain their livelihood, and so that they can continue serving real couples year to year.

It boils down to time, expertise, gear, and business maintenance/sustenance.

Here are some examples…

Regarding time associated with one client (spoiler alert, it’s not just showing up on your wedding day for your hired # of hours):

  • # hours spent in emails, phone calls, and meetings pre- and post- wedding, answering your questions, providing you information, coordinating session times with you, etc.
  • # hours spent travelling and shooting engagement or prewedding session
  • # hours spent in editing, refining, and delivering engagement/pre-wedding photos
  • Time (minutes to hours) spent designing engagement album
  • # hours spent on helping you with timeline prep and any pre-wedding planning, including preparing the gear necessary to photograph your wedding
  • 8-13 hours of wedding day coverage, not including travel, set up, photo transfer and backup
  • # hours sorting through out-takes, eye-blinkers, and editing your wedding day photos
  • Time spent backing up and uploading said photos to an organized online gallery
  • Time spent designing your wedding album

Easily 70-100+ hours of just labor per wedding before expenses. It is expensive to upkeep a business. A photographer generally own their own business, which means their income does not equal what they will actually get to keep in their bank account.

Regarding main expenses directly associated with your specific wedding:

  • Cost of second photographer
  • Cost of album and printed artwork

Regarding time and business expenses associated with general business maintenance, whether the photographer does it themselves or outsource to other professionals, to name a few:

  • Marketing, including updating social media and website, meeting with potential clients
  • Educational resource creation
  • Accounting
  • Equipment and gear maintenance and upgrade
  • Continuous education
  • Research and sampling photo labs for printing quality work
  • Online gallery subscriptions
  • Photo editing software subscriptions
  • Vehicle maintenance and gas with all the travelling involved driving to and from photo sessions and weddings
  • Website hosting subscriptions
  • Yearly business license renewals
  • Liability insurance
  • Gear insurance
  • Business taxes
  • Time spent refining and improving their customer experience
  • and more…

Hopefully that gives you a better understanding as to why “wedding tax” is a myth, and what people actually mean, unknowingly, when they use that term.

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