Wedding Photographer Prices in DC and Northern Virginia (2023)

Wedding Photographer Prices in DC and Northern Virginia

Wedding Photographer Prices in DC and Northern Virginia (1)

Are you planning to hire a wedding photographer in DC or Northern Virginia? As you’re figuring out your total wedding budget, one of the most important vendors for many couples is their photographer! You will be looking back at these photos for the rest of your life, so it’s a big decision.

According to The Knot’s 2019 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a wedding in the DC area was $40,000. With most couples spending somewhere between 10-15% of their total budget on photography, we’re looking at many couples spending around $4000-$6000. Of course you can find photographers at all different price points across Northern Virginia and DC! That’s one of the great thing about being in a large metro area - there are plenty of photographers to choose from, so you can find the perfect match for your style and budget.

Just be wary of photographers whose prices seem too good to be true. It’s possible they could be inexperienced at handling a wedding day, or they might be skimping out on important things like insurance or having backup gear.

Comparing wedding photography prices in DC and Northern Virginia

As you begin your photographer search, you’ll find that most will have some kind of pricing information listed on their website. (Some get fancy and that page title will be “Investment” haha.) It’s pretty rare to find ALL of the price and package information online - but often you can find “starting at” or average prices. You’ll typically have to email the photographer to get all the details. If you find a photographer whose work you love but they seem a bit out of your price range, I always recommend emailing anyways! You might find that average price listed on their site is a larger package than you would need, and they could have smaller packages more in line with your budget.

As you’re reviewing photographers’ websites and reaching out for detailed quotes, here are a few things to consider as you compare prices:

How many hours do you need?

This is probably the biggest factor to consider when comparing wedding package prices from different photographers. Of course the more hours of coverage you need, the higher the cost is going to be. For most couples looking to have their whole day captured, from the getting ready photos through the reception, an 8-hour package is the most common choice. But every wedding is different - you might have a longer day that requires more hours, or maybe getting ready photos aren’t important to you so a smaller package would work.

You will probably find most DC area photographers have a minimum number of hours for booking a wedding. If you’re planning a short and sweet wedding day, ask the photographers you’re talking to if they offer special packages for smaller, intimate weddings. They might not list these on their website, but they might have them available depending on the specific date of your wedding!

Do you want engagement photos?

Many photographers include an engagement session in their most popular wedding packages, but for others it’s an add-on. Not only are they GREAT practice for working with your photographer before the wedding day, but it is also so nice to have professional photos of yourselves in more casual clothes (you know, without all the wedding day fanciness). They are also amazing for getting cute photos of your dog if they can’t come to your wedding :) But there are also plenty of reasons to skip the engagements (maybe you live out of town or you’re just trying to save money), so consider how important these are to you and how they are included in the photographers’ prices.

Do you need a second photographer?

Second photographers are a great addition to wedding packages, but not every couple needs one. If you’re planning a large wedding (75+ people), having a second photographer makes it much more likely to capture all of your guests in at least one photo! No photographer will be able guarantee a shot of every guest, but having a second person to capture all the action at a reception makes it much easier to get more candid photos. It’s also really helpful if both you and your partner want getting ready photos - one photographer will be with you, and the other photographer will be your future spouse. And of course they will get you more variety and different angles throughout the day!

What do their reviews look like?

Let’s be real - amazing wedding photographers are worth the money. And they should have the reviews to back that up. You’ll want to carefully analyze photographers’ reviews to make sure they align with the prices they are charging. Are you considering a photographer who charges $5k but you can’t find any public reviews on them? Definitely a red flag. An experienced photographer should have a steady stream of 5-star reviews coming in, and that can give you some assurance that their prices are justified. I collect most of my reviews on Google and WeddingWire, and these are probably the most common places to start when looking for reviews of the photographers you’re considering.

How can you save money on DC wedding photography?

  • Reduce the number of hours - Most photographers require a certain number of hours to book a prime wedding date, but keeping hours to a minimum is the easiest way to save money. And while it would be nice to have photography coverage from the moment you start getting ready until the last guest leaves for the night, you don’t need every minute captured to still get a wide variety of wedding photos. Figure out what parts of the day are most important for you, and focus on getting those covered.

  • Plan everything at one location - One of the fastest ways that time adds up is when travel is involved! If you are getting ready at a hotel, then driving to a church for the ceremony, then driving to the reception, those precious minutes of travel add up quickly. You’ll save yourself some money (and stress!) if you choose a venue where you can get ready on location and do the ceremony + reception all in one place. There are plenty of venues in our area that can host the entire wedding day for you - I’ve got another post dedicated to some of my favorite venues in Northern Virginia, Shenandoah, and Prince William County, VA if you’re still searching for a location!

  • Get married on an unpopular date - Most photographers charge the same price regardless of the wedding date, but you might find they have some wiggle room with prices if you choose a date that isn’t popular. Mondays-Thursdays and winter months are your best chances at getting a reduced cost, or finding a photographer who will book a wedding day with fewer hours. You can read more on my blog about why weekday weddings have their own perks and are growing in popularity!

  • Skip the engagement photos - I hesitate to even mention this one, because engagement photos are so important to get to know your photographer! But if you’ve found a photographer that you love and they are just a little bit more expensive than you’d like, choosing a package without engagement photos can help them fit into your budget. (If you decide to get the engagement photos, check out some of my favorite locations in Northern Virginia and DC.)

Wedding Photographer Prices in DC and Northern Virginia (10)

Hope these tips were helpful as you are comparing prices for DC and Northern Virginia wedding photographers! If you still need help deciding who to hire, I’ve got a whole post dedicated to the top 5 things you need to know about choosing your photographer. It includes tips on how to compare portfolios, how to scour the internet for reviews, and how to find the right personality to fit you guys as a couple!

And of course if you’d like to check out my complete price list and see some full wedding galleries, shoot me a message!

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