How much does a wedding photographer cost in the UK?

Wedding photography pricing uk

Wedding Photography pricing UK

I have to admit, this article is a lengthy read! Well thought out and researched, but if you want a quick result, click the button below to jump to the results of this massive brain dump about wedding photography prices! You can always scroll back and read the whole thing later if you are intrigued!

Wedding photography is a totally unregulated profession – anyone can claim to be a wedding photographer, and the only person who sets the price is the wedding photographer themself.

There are generally three schools of thought when it comes to wedding photography pricing.

  1. Charge based on their skills and experience
  2. Charge the going rate
  3. Charge as much as they can get

I have very strong opinions on the second and third methods, and plenty of other wedding photographers have strong opposing opinions!

Some experienced photographers get annoyed when new wedding photographers show up in the business and charge budget rates. They feel like it devalues the whole industry. They think – If someone can hire a cheap wedding photographer for £500 for a whole day, why would anyone choose a £2400 wedding photographer. I think this is nonsense. An experienced wedding photographer is worth the extra investment and couples getting married know this.

The society of wedding and portrait photographers is a society that encourages high professional standards and ethics in wedding photography. Not all wedding photographers are members, but professional members have been vetted by experienced members of the society. By choosing a wedding photographer on this list you may be increasing your chances of hiring a reliable professional, but their prices will probably be higher as a result.

Wedding photography pricing
An experienced wedding photographer knows how to handle your guests, create beautiful photos, and keep everyone smiling!

What angers me is when a new and inexperienced photographer sets up their website and starts charging £1800 for a full day simply because that is what everyone else charges. I think this is a very dangerous thing to do – although it isn’t always right, people instinctively judge quality based on price. If a couple finds a wedding photographer with a pricing of £1500 or over, they will assume this photographer has a certain level of experience, skills, and professionalism – so when a new photographer chooses this method of pricing it can have a long-lasting, and devastating impact on the couple who are getting married.

How much is experience worth in wedding photography?

It is very difficult to judge experience.

If you use the number of years a wedding photographer has been working as a way to judge their experience there are a few potential flaws.

One photographer may have been the in house wedding photographer for a certain venue for 10 years. They are undoubtedly experienced at dealing with a wide variety of guests, and they know exactly how a wedding will generally flow. They will also be very proficient at choosing the best settings on their camera and be experienced at processing photos. They also know exactly the right spots at that venue for portraits.

However, if they have only photographed at that one venue, they may not be experienced at thinking on their feet when it comes to finding new places to pose couples or how to deal with difficult lighting situations that were not predicted. They may also have no experience dealing with long, gruelling shifts – some weddings are all on one site and the venue provide a lovely meal and place for the photographer to eat. Some weddings are over 12 hours at multiple venues and the only opportunity to have a snack or drink for the entire day is in the car while dashing between venues.

Years don’t necessarily equate to experience in wedding photography.

Two photographers may have 1 year of experience. Photographer A has photographed 30 weddings all across the country, and photographer B has photographed only 5 weddings. Clearly, photographer A will have gained more experience much faster than photographer B.

If you are looking for an experienced photographer (who can justify charging the higher end of pricing), aim for one who has photographed at least 30 weddings at a variety of venues in all seasons. 

Not every wedding photographer grows through experience

Everyone has different personalities – some of us are driven to constantly improve and learn, others think – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I have been a wedding photographer for over 10 years, and even now I can see my skills developing from one year to the next.   

What about natural wedding photography skills?

Some photographers got into the job of wedding photography because they love people and photography, some started because they saw it as a money-making opportunity. Some are naturally artistic and others have to learn rules to make sure they achieve satisfactory results.

Photographic skill is absolutely essential if you want stunning wedding photos – but this alone is not enough to guarantee good results. Never pay a premium for someone who has amazing natural abilities if they have no experience of photographing weddings. Weddings are totally different from fine art portrait shoots, or styled wedding photoshoots.

A word of warning about Styled Shoots

You may find an Instagram feed or website full of amazing examples of beautiful wedding photos. The details are perfect, the poses are like something from a fashion magazine. Everything looks amazing.

Lots of photographers get together with other vendors within the wedding industry to create styled shoots. Magazines love to feature these, and they are great for the other vendors because they don’t always get the opportunity to have photos of their work. They are also great for photographers who haven’t yet booked any weddings but want to build a portfolio.

Do not use these as a measure of a photographer’s abilities! Styled shoots require a totally different set of skills to photograph an actual wedding. This article isn’t about how to choose a wedding photographer, it’s about pricing, so I won’t digress too much – I have written a whole article here about how to choose a wedding photographer where I go into more details about this sort of thing.

What is included in a wedding photography package?

When comparing wedding photography prices it is important to compare like for like. Some photographers will always work as a team, some always include an album or a pre-wedding photoshoot. The best way to compare pricing is to look at the hourly price for a digital-only service (because most photographers offer this) – even if that isn’t what you will ultimately book.

A digital only package should typically include a full day of photography (usually 8-10 hours), a pre-wedding consultation, and the digital files fully processed.

Here are some extras that photographers often add to create packages

  • Pre-wedding shoot / engagement photography
  • Printed products and albums
  • Second photographer
  • Midweek and off-season discounts

How much should you budget for your wedding photography in UK?

The standard answer to this question is at least 10% of your wedding budget – but I think this is a very impersonal way to decide what you can, and what you want to spend on something that is very personal.

For some people art and photography is a very important part of their life – their homes are covered in beautiful photos, and they have albums full of holiday photos. Some people haven’t had a single photo printed since photos became more digital. These two people undoubtedly will value photography differently.

As a good rule though, you should think of wedding photography as an investment. You have only one chance to capture the photos that you will be able to look at for the rest of your life. Paying extra for experience may not guarantee better photos, but it will increase the chance that you end up with the photos you want. More reliable equipment, better storage and back-ups, experience dealing with problems – this is like insurance. You only really know how valuable insurance is until something goes wrong. When deciding your budget, try imagining yourself in 20 years looking back to this decision. How much would you be willing to spend in 20 years to see photos of your wedding day? Now multiply that by every time in your life that you may want to see those photos again.

How much does a wedding photographer charge per hour?

I’d say that as a very rough estimate of average prices (so don’t take this too seriously) experienced UK wedding photographers charge £150-180 per hour for a digital-only service.

This varies a lot – often the admin and travel time for a 10-hour wedding is the same as for a 3-hour wedding, so you may not be able to book a wedding photographer at £150 per hour for a 3-hour wedding even if they would happily photograph a 10-hour wedding for £1500.

Using averages to understand how much wedding photography costs in the UK

The most common way for people (and magazines) to tell you how much to spend on a wedding photographer is to use average prices based on national surveys. The problem here is that we all know an average doesn’t really give you the full picture. A low budget couple may pay £500 and a high budget couple may pay £5000. The average here is £2750. That means nothing… none of them paid that, so there may not even be a photographer charging that amount!

This survey by Your Perfect Wedding Photographer uses averages to tell you that the average price for a wedding photographer in the UK in 2020 was £1590.

This price above could easily be the result of 2 totally different mindsets – one lot of couples who opt for an inexperienced wedding photographer wanting to build their portfolio charging £500. And the second lot of couples choosing a full time, experienced proffessional photographer charging £2500. The average comes out at £1500. Are you seeing the flaw in this method?

So, if the average method of working out how much wedding photography should cost diesn’t work, how should we do it?

Using salaries to understand how much wedding photographers cost in the UK

People know how much they earn themselves, so if you want to judge a photographer on their yearly salary (becasue you can relate to that), I will give you a few examples.

But first, lets gather some information. We need to know how many weddings they shoot, and what their costs are before calculating the fee.

How many weddings will my photographer photograph each year?

There are generally 2 main camps when it comes to wedding photography numbers – high volume and low volume photographers. To understand salary, you need to know which one you want.
(As a side note, there are also general photographers who run a portrait studio and don’t specialise in weddings, plus part-time photographers who also have a different full time job who don’t fall into any of these categories)

A high volume photographer can charge less and has more experience – but the disadvantage is they don’t have the time to get to know you personally. They won’t have the capacity to have in depth consultations to really get to know what makes you tick, and photograph your wedding according to your specific requirements – they will turn up and shoot the same way they shoot every wedding. Lets assume 60+ weddings per year.

A low volume photographer will probably limit the number of wedding they photograph to about 30 per year. This allows them to really get to know you and have time for in depth pre-wedding consultations, and back and forth emails, and remember who you actually are, and remember you. The downside here is they need to charge more per wedding to make up the same yearly salary. Let’s assume 30 weddings per year.

What costs does a wedding photographer have?

The actual wedding day is a very small proportion of the work done by a wedding photographer. 

They have to account for their overheads and business time: equipment costs, insurance, advertising, website maintenance, computer software, admin, personal development and training. Then for each wedding, there are travel costs, parking, sometimes accommodation, days of processing, postage or hosting of the photos.

Here is a list to give you an idea of some of my costs as a wedding photographer

Now we know how many weddings a photographer shoots per year, and what their overheads are, we can finally look at what they need to charge to earn a salary.

How much does a high volume wedding photographer need to charge to make a pre-tax salary of:
£30k salary: £700 per wedding
£50k salary: £1050 per wedding
£100k salary: £1900 per wedding

How much does a low volume wedding photographer need to charge to make a pre-tax salary of:
£30k salary: £1230 per wedding
£50k salary: £2035 per wedding
£100k salary: £3700 per wedding

All these figures above are digital only! Some photographers earn money by selling albums, and some photographers work with a second photographer. If you want 2 photographers and an album, you will need to pay more than the prices above.

So – what does this tell you about the photographer charging £500 for full day coverage?

  1. They are going to have to make a lot of profit by selling you an album or prints later. Check what is included in the package, and check upgrade prices in advance!
  2. They have low quality equipment and low experience. Some photographers starting out are willing to sacrifice decent earnings to build up a portfolio.
  3. This is a part time hobby so they don’t need to rely on their wedding photography as their only salary.
  4. They shoot a lot of weddings each year (so communication with them and personalisation will be limited)
  5. They haven’t really looked at their business costs and will go bust before your wedding happens!

The self employed thing

Now, remember also that being self-employed means the photographer is responsible for finding their own work, and they don’t get paid holidays. Early on it can be worrying to know that if you can’t find work, you can’t earn – so really prices need to be inflated to account for this lack of stability.

**Summary of Wedding Photography Prices UK (actual numbers!)**

In case you skipped to this section, I’ll summarise quickly:

  • Average price paid is nonsense
    Using average prices doesn’t show the “most often paid” price, it’s a made-up number between the top and bottom prices (ish). So someone might get free photography, or use a student – why would you include these numbers in your calculation if you want high quality photography? In case you do want this nonesense… the average price paid for wedding photography in the UK is £1590.
  • Price per hour doesn’t mean anything
    An hour of wedding coverage equates to more than an hour of work, so you can’t simply compare this to your own earnings. Plus, photographers need to buy equipment etc, so they don’t actually end up with what they charge per hour.
  • However, we all know about salaries!
    Now you can see how the price a photographer charges actually measures up according to your own judgement of skill level and salary.

NB: The best of the best isn’t going to be earning less than £50k per year…

Wedding Photographer salary Price per day (low volume)Price per day (High volume)
£30k salary £1230£700
£50k salary £2035£1050
£100k salary£3700£1900
High volume vs low volume is related to how many weddings the photographer shoots a year… high volume means they won’t have as much time to get to know you as a couple or give you a bespoke service.

High and low volume is about the number of weddings each photographer shoots per year (high = 60+, low = max 30), there is a trade-off between income/ cost and personalisation of service/ how much the photographer can get to know you!

I’m a low volume wedding photographer somewhere between the £30k and £50k bracket – I specialise in introvert friendly wedding photography… have a look at my work!

Are you interested in what camera equipment I use for my wedding photography? My main camera is a Canon Eos R5 with a 28-70mm lens and a

The Lake District is a fantastic place to free yourselves from distractions whilst getting in plenty of hill walking to help with your wedding fitness goals!

How to get the best quality from wedding photography (reduce time)

If you really have a limited budget, but you value photography highly and don’t like the idea of risking hiring an inexperienced photographer to capture your day – the best option is to reduce the length of time you hire your photographer for.

An inexperienced photographer may charge £500 for 10 hours, while a more reliable and better-skilled photographer may charge £500 for 2 hours. Having 2 hours of stunning photos and then the rest of the day captured by guests on their phones can be a much better solution than opting for a day full of substandard photos for the same price.

If you are looking for better value – extend your coverage! As I mentioned, there is a lot of admin work for each wedding. The initial email often requires a few bespoke responses before a meeting is scheduled. I usually have a pre-booking meeting and then a pre-wedding meeting. In addition to this I make sure I learn all about the couple, understand the relationship between them and their guests, plan a shoot list, and prep all my equipment – this happens for a 2-hour wedding and also a 10-hour wedding. This is why the price per hour is less for a longer wedding.

In my opinion, my best value package is my Whole weekend wedding photography package I offer. It is more expensive in total, but it includes photography across the entire weekend, plus so many bonuses.

Are you looking for a wedding photographer?

Hi – My name is Emma and I’m an experienced, full-time, professional wedding photographer in York. I run Happy Otter Photography which is a wedding photography service designed for couples who don’t really enjoy posing but want beautiful photos of themselves and their loved ones enjoying the wedding day.

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