Colorado Wedding Cost | Photography Pricing
How Much Should a Wedding Cost?
The answer to the questions about how much should I pay for a wedding venue, how much should I pay for a wedding photographer, for a DJ, for a wedding planner, and for what feels like the hundreds of other things is actually a subjective answer based on what you value. For example, you may put more into a photographer than a caterer if you value remembering your day, all the emotion experienced, and the artwork on the walls of your home. Here are a couple steps we recommend:
Step 1: Determine what you value as a couple.
Step 2: Determine a budget. Currently 70% of our photography couples are paying for the wedding themselves. While parents of the couple are helping out more this year than in past years its likely you are paying for most of your wedding.
Colorado Wedding Market Research Averages
Below are the averages couples spent on related wedding services. It covers the cost for those local to Colorado, the destination weddings to Colorado, the mountain weddings, and city urban weddings. Please note these numbers are based on Colorado averages and are likely a little higher for certain areas due to a better market.
$1933 – Attire (Dress, Tux, Accessories)
$171 – Makeup and Spa
$2855 – Entertainment (Band, Musicians, DJ, Master of Services)
$1947 – Flowers and Decorations
$822 – Gifts and Favors (Parents, Wedding Party, Tips)
$1006 – Invitations (Save the Dates, Programs, Guestbooks, Postage, Thank you cards)
$4,690 – Jewelry (Engagement Ring, Wedding bands)
$4,352 – Photography (Photographers, Engagement Session Albums, Prints, Images, Videographer)
$8,134 – Planner (Wedding Consultant, Day of Coodinator, Full Service, Getting Started)
$15,547 – Venue (Location rental, Catering, Alcohol, Rentals, Officiant, Limo, Hotel after Reception, Rehearsal dinner)
Step 3: Get a 2nd job if you are paying for the wedding yourselves. Well at least it might feel like that for many after seeing the average costs. Realistically there are some things you can do to have a beautiful wedding without having the high end cost. There are some wedding planning tips on our Planning Tips blog section.
Colorado Wedding Photographer Average Costs
If you have done much research up to this point you will find a couple of things:
1. Everyone seems much more expensive than the photography prices noted below. This is because the best photographers run successful businesses and therefore are easier to find and connect with. This is also due to many people not using professional photographers. Perhaps we are just biased but we believe as photography is the one thing you have after the wedding and for years to come its not the place to cut corners on cost. You can read about how another was impacted by trying to save and go with a lower cost photographer in this post on how to find a good photographer.
2. Everyone packages their photography and related services differently. For this reason note that these numbers below are averages and primarily focused on the cost of getting a photography team, engagement session, and digital images. Wedding albums and videographers are two additional costs that can be rather pricey and vary based on what your looking for in both.
Here is the Average a Couple Spends for Colorado Wedding Photographers, Engagements, and Images Only:
< $1,127 – 39.1% / 14,541 Colorado weddings
$1,127 – $2,000 – 18.9% / 7,013 Colorado weddings
$2,000 – $2,340 – 7.7% / 2879 Colorado weddings
$2,340 – $3,510 – 18.1% / 6,731 Colorado weddings
$3,510 – $5,850 – 9.1% / 3384 Colorado weddings
$5,850 – $11,700 – 4.1% / 1525 Colorado weddings
> $11,700 – 3.0% / 1116 Colorado weddings
So that is a Couple’s Spending – What is the Average a Photographer Charges?
For ‘Full Wedding Coverage’
(8 Hours, Images Only, 1 Photographer, No Engagement)
< $1,000 – 2% Colorado Photographers [-1% Change]
$1,000 – $2,000 – 16% Colorado Photographers [+6% Change]
$2,000 – $3,000 – 31% Colorado Photographers [+2% Change]
$3,000 – $4,000 – 35% Colorado Photographers [-4% Change]
$4,000 – $5,000 – 12% Colorado Photographers [-2% Change]
$5,000 – $6,000 – 4% Colorado Photographers [-1% Change]
> $6,000 – 1% Colorado Photographers [No Change]
Photographer Pricing List Range
(What you will likely find online)
< $1,000 – 3% Colorado Photographers [+1% Change]
$1,000 – $2,000 – 20% Colorado Photographers [+7% Change]
$2,000 – $3,000 – 24% Colorado Photographers [+2% Change]
$3,000 – $4,000 – 24% Colorado Photographers [-2% Change]
$4,000 – $5,000 – 19% Colorado Photographers [-2% Change]
$5,000 – $6,000 – 4% Colorado Photographers [-1% Change]
> $6,000 – 5% Colorado Photographers [-3% Change]
Key Implications from Data:
- Many couples don’t use full time / all in professional photographers.
- Majority of change for 2017 are the addition of new unexperienced photographers accounting for the average -$500 shift in pricing.
- The average photographer charges $2500-3500 for just 1 Photographer, 8 Hours, No Engagement
- To decrease cost basic services are cut (coverage time, 2 photographers, number of images, image editing)
- The market average starting price is $2487 for a photographer but these packages do not include what you need.
Cost Implications of Being A Wedding Photographer
Before you get too excited about 39.1% of people spending under $1200 on a wedding photographer consider things from the perspective of a wedding photographer and consider how many weddings you would need to shoot to make a living. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the average Denver income was $66,870 in 2014. That means to be a true professional you would need to shoot about 55 weddings to make $30,178 after taxes. This assumes you have no overhead business expenses (equipment, marketing, insurance, travel, etc) which is not possible so the number is likely more like 80 weddings per year. That means to be a professional at that level you really would need to put less time into the photography (editing, selecting images, meeting with a couple) to keep up with the workload. You would also need to cut corners in expenses by download images online and only offering prints online to save your time and cost. The equipment used by those in this category are likely older and rather used which increases the likelihood of failure. We shoot with $6,000-$8,000 in our hands at any given moment. Using over $60k in photography equipment and having the overhead of liability insurance, marketing, and travel makes it nearly impossible to operate under a certain price. This is likely why 42% of wedding photography “businesses” under $1200 have gone under the past year in Denver. So what does this mean for you? Cost savings increases your risk of not having the kind of photography you would want.
Photography Business Costs Breakdown by Dollar
- Cost of Goods
- Cost of Goods
Joe and Robin Case Study
The chart shows the historical mapping of where every dollar has gone from our business over the years. While no businesses are built alike the general principle will still apply that if you cut the price in half taxes would be a little lower but that would eat up all the profit to run the business at the same level. As much as the passionate photographer may want to work for free or functionally lose money we believe that really is not the reality of a professional photographer. The other way to cut costs is to use less expensive equipment or rarely update it with the best stuff out there. One take away is to consider when asking for a lower price to consider the implications of what that means.
What Taxes do to a Photography Business
Lets assume you hire a photographer who made $100,000 from weddings last year. You would think they certainly are doing quite well – heck you might make $40-90,000 and you certainly work more than 30 days a year! Well assuming they are full time and a single photographer shooting only in Colorado they will lose $21,066.75 to federal taxes, $15,600 to Social Security, and $4530 to state taxes. After the 41% loss of income to taxes ($41,196.75) they will have $58,803.25 left for living off of plus the business overhead. Likely what happens is there are tax deductions that can be found in the $20k range which will keep around $8,500 in the pocket but that to run a business you are spending $20k to execute those weddings for the business overhead (equipment, marketing, insurance, travel, etc). Realistically, this means you likely are going to come out with $47,303 from that $100,000 you made. Should you then be shocked to find photographers charging over $4000?
Does the Amount a Photographer Charges Mean they are Professional?
Using the data above we can assume there are 11600 + Weddings that couples spend >2340. With there being around 1100 Colorado Photographers and 67% charging > 2500 that means there are around 737 photographers. Not all want to shoot weddings but lets assume all would as we can also assume the 737 number is likely low. That would mean they would average around 16 weddings per year or 37,440 to 128,000 gross income. After taxes its more like 24,364 to 70,489. Realistically, unless you are shooting an above average number of weddings that means to make the average Denver income you would need to charge $4,300 on average and have minimal overhead expenses. In other words only 16% of the 737 photographers (around 118) can make it as professional wedding photographers without supplemental income. Some ways around the $4,300 number at 16 weddings a year figure is to shoot more weddings, more engagements, offer varied services, and as many – shoot other types of photography. What likely is the case is that there are the 118 that are shooting more around 25-30 weddings per year and everyone else with around 2-7 weddings per year.
How Much Should You Pay For a Wedding Photographer?
This might be the wrong question. You really should ask ‘What do we value as a couple’. When we were married we paid less than we would now pay a wedding photographer. We have been comforted by hearing that this has been the story of a number of the best wedding photographers in their respective market who really don’t have anything all that great from their wedding. This motivates us to write things like this post and others to try to help understand what to value in wedding photography, what to think about when talking to a Denver wedding photographer, and so on.
For us today it wouldn’t be about the price but rather connecting with our photographers. We can look at their work online and see its consistency (quality and regularity). We can read reviews and hear what others thought about going with them for their wedding photography. We have learned there is always someone that can go lower in price, give a better discount. You should pay for what you value.