The Unspoken Reason Why Wedding Photography is Costly

Here’s a common complaint: “Why is wedding photography so expensive?”

One of the most common complaints about wedding photography is that it’s too expensive. I’ve seen this sentiment uttered from all corners of the Web. I’ve also seen just as many photographers jump at the opportunity to defend their prices by writing articles that only an accountant could appreciate. Three years ago, I stumbled upon one such article on PetaPixel. Penned by Nikki Wagner, Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”, was a public response to an anonymous woman’s frustrated Craigslist post asking about the high cost of hiring an “exceptional, amazingly talented, fun photographer”.

Wagner went into great depth breaking down her cost of doing business, deliverables, and living expenses. Her conclusion was that she doesn’t really make that much money, despite what clients may think is a high per-wedding fee.

Her article quickly gained traction and spread throughout the online photography community. Although articles about the topic existed prior to Wagner’s — including articles using similar arguments — the virality of Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”had a watershed effect. Since then, many wedding photographers have written the compulsory “why is wedding photography so expensive” posts.

Unfortunately, this is a counterproductive and fruitless exercise that doesn’t address the issue head on. Quite frankly, I’m surprised that someone hasn’t yet included scans of their tax returns to make a point. Prepare for some real talk.

In the context of this article, I’m defining luxury as something that you want or would like to have but don’t actually need. The Craigslist poster wrote, “They are ripping people off for all they have! Why when you want to get married it costs you AT LEAST 15 grand after all is said-and-done? Its such CRAP!! I love all you $ 3,000.00 photographers out there but i think your prices are WACK.”

Immediately, I would like to point out that there’s a distinction between getting married and holding a wedding. Getting married is something you may need; holding a wedding is something you want. The poster is wrong when she states that getting married is expensive: relative to the price of a wedding, it’s quite affordable.

For instance, if you live in Toronto and wish to marry, your total expenses would come to under $400, including the license and marriage officiant. I’m aware that the writer is from Puget Sound, but I doubt getting married in

Washington is much more expensive than in Ontario. In any case, despite her choice of words, the writer was referring to holding a wedding.