Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly post where the some of the Hudson Valley’s top wedding photographers and videographers share their insights on the most commonly asked questions about wedding photography and videography. Each week through December, learn from the very best so you can make smart and educated decisions when it comes to preserving your special day. Click on any photo to be taken to the photographer’s website. This is not a sponsored post; no compensation was received or exchanged for the purpose of this blog post or for the promotion of the photographer.
Today’s contributor is Erica Leman of Sweet Alice Photography
We all know that weddings are expensive and today, many couples find themselves paying for most, if not all of it themselves. Many couples today also have other financial obligations to take care of such as student loans, rent or savings for a down payment on a house, or even family or child-related expenses.
With all of that, budgets are tight, and some are extremely tight, but no matter how tight your budget gets, the one thing you should never eliminate from your wedding budget is photography.
It’s very easy to say you’ll have a friend or family member take them, but in the end, you will most likely regret that decision when you are looking back at your album years later and see subpar photos. Unless your friend is a professional, you aren’t going to get the photos you really want or deserve to have as part of your legacy. Do you really want your friend or family member taking your photos instead of enjoying their night? Remember, they want to enjoy their day, and can’t really enjoy themselves if they are photographing you all night and “working”. It also puts a lot of pressure on them as well.
Additionally, and most importantly, your photos are not a purchase, they are an INVESTMENT you are making to yourself, your memories, and your family. Don’t think that just because you don’t have that much money to invest, you can’t hire a great photographer. In fact, the opposite is true.
We spoke to Erica Leman, lead photographer for Sweet Alice Photography, about what couples who are on a very tight budget can do about saving money on wedding photography.
Why is she the perfect person to answer this question? Because she was a bride on a budget. She says “Believe me, I totally understand tight budgets! I was the bride who had everything in a spreadsheet to make sure we didn’t go over our budget and had to finance my own wedding dress. I cried when I didn’t think I could find a photographer in our budget – and I was a wedding photographer! Budgets are a big piece of wedding planning, and ensuring that you don’t overspend is key when you are starting a life together.”
What are some conversations you can have with your photographer if you are on a tight budget?
As a photographer and a budget-conscious bride, Leman says don’t assume you can’t afford a photographer just because you have that much budgeted for it. Having a conversation with your photographer is a must and these are some things she suggests:
Think about the hours of coverage you want? “If you don’t need an entire day’s worth of photography coverage, ask your photographer what type of hourly options may be available,” she says.
Think about your album. Leman says “If your photographer includes an album as a part of your wedding package, ask if that may be taken out, either to save money or in favor of more hourly coverage.” I might even add asking if you could purchase your album at a later date when you have more money to invest in one. Maybe as a nice first-year anniversary gift. That’s what I did (after thinking that I would make my album myself and realized it was never going to happen).
Ask about second photographers. “If your photographer shoots with a second photographer, ask if their hours can either be reduced or completely negated,” says Leman.
How about a trade? Leman has a great thought. She says “If you offer a good or service yourself, ask your photographer if they may be willing to accept a partial barter as a portion of the payment.” Of course, this all has to be agreed upon beforehand and spoken about in depth prior to signing any contract. Plus, not all photographers may be interested in doing that.
Keep an open mind. Leman says “When looking for ways to stay on budget with your photographer, please be open to their suggestions, as well as the fact that they may not be able to accommodate your request. Not every photographer likes to shoot weddings solo, and they may not be able to accept barters as a form of payment. It’s ok to move on, and find someone who may better fit your financial needs.”
We’d love to know, if you are a couple who had a candid conversation with your photographer about your budget, what are you doing to keep your budget in tact?
Please join us next week when we hear from another great Hudson Valley Photographer answering the most common photo/video questions couples have