Paying for a good wedding photographer can make a major dent in your wedding budget and for good reason — your wedding photos will be one of the most cherished and important pieces after your wedding is over and they'll stick with you and your husband as wonderful memories for years and years to come. So it's important to realize that just because you're on tight budget, that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice the wedding photos of your dreams.
The most important thing to do when reaching out to wedding photographers is to be up-front about your budget. Many photographers post packages with set prices on their website, while some prefer to give you a custom quote. Usually, they'll tweak a package to suit your needs and your budget. But if the price is fixed, try negotiating: Choose a less expensive package and ask to have extras thrown in, like an engagement shoot or a canvas print. You can also send your shooter home early to save (smart-phone pics can cover the rest of the reception) or wait on albums and prints (e.g., buy them after the wedding when your bank account has recovered, or use a service to print independently). One thing to remember is that even if the pro you want is expensive, it may be worth the cost: Flowers wilt, but photos last.
Still trying to stretch your budget to get that dream photographer? Try these four ways to save a few extra dollars.
Photographers have to work Saturdays during high season (May to October) to maintain their income. But a Friday or a Sunday? That's gravy for most, so you can often score a deal.
Boost her reputation.
Reviews are the main way wedding photographers attract new clients. Promise to talk her up on bridal listing sites in exchange for a discount.
Refer a friend.
There's a lag between when you book and when you pay the full fee. See if she'll shrink the bill if you hook her up with referrals in the interim.
Try a newbie.
Book a recent photography graduate or someone new to weddings if you have a tight budget and are willing to take a chance on an unknown. She should run you about $1,000, but expect to do a bit of hand-holding.