Most couples set fixed or slightly flexible budgets for their wedding, which is a wise decision to keep spending from getting out of hand. Sometimes, couples might find a photographer they absolutely adore but is priced above their budget.

If that’s a current scenario for you and you really want to be able to hire them and are willing to reorganize your budget to have them, read on. I’m assuming you’ve already set your date and venue, so I won’t suggest the obvious non-Saturday or off-season tips. I’ve listed several ideas below for how to afford the wedding photographer of your dreams depending on how far above budget they are.
How to Afford the Wedding Photographer of Your Dreams, Making more room in your wedding budget for photography

They’re Over Budget by $2,000+

To begin with the most extreme example, let’s say that you’ve fallen head over heels for a photographer but they cost $2,000+ more than your budget. Let’s hypothetically say you’re open to that idea and want to see if you can make it work before you walk away. Below I’ve listed my top considerations for how you can achieve this. Do note that you should only cut these areas if they don’t matter nearly as much as photography. Don’t sacrifice items you deeply value!

  • Cut your guest list!! If you can cut out 8-10 people from the list, that saves you not only 8-10 meals/drinks but also the cost to rent a table, linens, and tabletop decor/rentals. That could easily save you $800-$3,000 depending on your per person costs. 
  • End alcohol service an hour before the last song. Serve coffee or late night snacks instead. People will drink more once they’ve already had a few drinks, so you’ll save hundreds to maybe even a thousand or two dollars depending on guest count.
  • Did you budget for a 7 player band? Perhaps it’s worth hiring a DJ instead and you can put the thousands of savings toward photography. Or maybe you can have a smaller band and save one to two thousand dollars. 
  • If you have a professional service to offer, ask about a partial trade. For example, if you or your spouse is a personal trainer, you could offer a trade of equal value for a portion of your photography package. Maybe you have a vacation home you could offer them a free 3-4 night stay. Do expect the trade to be clearly outlined in your photography contract to protect both parties.
Green and white engagement bouquet, Contax 645 Fuji 400h San Diego wedding film photographer, Cavin Elizabeth Photography

They’re Over Budget by $1,000+

Sometimes photographers are out of budget but not too shockingly far off what you were hoping to spend. For your dream photographer, there are several things you can do to easily allocate another $1,000-$2,000 towards photography if it’s someone you have to have.

  • Again, cut the guest list by 8-10 people (a full table)!
  • Cut out wedding favors. This saves you a few hundred dollars.
  • End alcohol service a half hour before the last song to save a few hundred dollars.
  • Perhaps book the photographer at their minimum package and then add hours later if room opens up organically in the budget. 
  • Online RSVP for guests. Save $50-$100 on postage and hundreds of dollars on physical RSVP cards by having guests send their attendance to your wedding website.
  • Hire a planner. Wait, what? Wouldn’t that cost you more money? Yes and no. If you already budget for a planner, awesome! If not, they can actually save you money with their vendor relationships and wise tips and advice. Totally worth every penny!
White table with Pink green white peach centerpiece on film, Romantic Colorful Floral Arrangements by Organic Flora, Cavin Elizabeth Photography

They’re Over Budget by a Few Hundred

A few hundred dollars difference in your budget and your dream photographer’s pricing is so easy to accommodate. You only need to make a few minor changes to the budget to make it work since you’re so close!

  • Again, cut out favors to save a few hundred dollars!
  • Choose a smaller band or DJ rather than a large band. 
  • Cut small floral items like mothers’ corsages and fathers’ boutonnieres out of the floral list. These won’t be missed and your florist will probably be delighted that you’ve chosen a fantastic photographer who will send them gorgeous images of their work.
  • Book less hours with the photographer and get creative with the timeline or add more hours later.
  • Skip the guestbook (honestly, a majority of guests never seem to sign them) and the table that goes with it. This will save you money on the guestbook, table/linen rentals, and other decor items you were going to use on the table.

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