Save Money on Photography

Your wedding will go by in a joyful blur, but your photographs will live on. Here's how to get picture-perfect results without breaking the bank.


After the Wedding

11. Make big plans for free print proofs. “Proofs” are small, often 3x5 or 4x6-inch unedited prints of a select number of your wedding photos. If your package offers 100 free print proofs, use some for framing and for making albums for parents and grandparents.

12. Skip the proof book and review proofs online. Photographers offer an optional spiral-bound proof book, which can cost an average of $168, according to If you review your proofs online you’ll save that extra cost. Plus, you can always order a proof book later if you really want one.

13. Ask for low-resolution images on disk. Professional photographers mark up the prices of high-resolution images for print quality, so ask for a disk of  “low-res” photos to share on your Facebook page. The savings, says Schlipf, can be 15 to 20 percent less than high-res.

14. Ask for a free brag book. Many photographers throw in a free, small photo album (called a “brag book”) containing a few dozen photos.

15. Know which special effects are free. With digital photography, most experts won’t charge for sepia effects, black-and-white, soft-focus and other easy accents.

16. Be patient. Rush or same-day editing costs over $300 extra.

17. Order smaller prints. When you order from the photographer’s image gallery, choose budget-friendly 4x6 or 5x7 prints rather than larger sizes that can be twice the price.

18. Ask about extra freebies. Some photographers will throw in buyone- get-one-free prints for parents’ albums.

19. Lose the leather. The average cost for a leather-bound photo album is $464. Look into alternate materials, like canvas, that cost close to half the price of leather and still look lovely.

20. Go magazine style. A traditional hard-page album in flush-mount style (with one image glued to each page) costs on average $746, but a glossy magazine-style photo book with images on both sides of the page costs $400 or so from a pro, and $20 to $60 from a discount online photo company like Shutterfly. Plus, with a magazine-style album, you get more photos per page.

21. Stick to one album style. Schlipf says, “60 to 80 percent of the cost of the album is in the designer’s work to lay it out and retouch it. When you design your album, get an exact, smaller copy for your parents, which costs less than designing and editing a separate album for them.”

22. Skip the fancy detailing. Don’t pay hundreds extra for add-ons such as gold edging and rounded corners. Choose a standard design and let the photos shine. Plus, many experts will throw in a gold or silver monogram for free on the album cover.

23. Choose archival-quality photo albums. Don’t skimp with inexpensive store-bought albums as a way to save money. Quality albums protect and preserve your photos with acid-free papers and cover materials that will protect your precious prints for years to come.

24. Order thank-you card photos later. Unless they’re included for free in the photo package, it often costs far less to order wallet-sized photos from discount photo-ordering sites.