Wedding Budget

Survey Question #18: Does my photographer really need to be insured?

If you asked me 10 years ago, does a photographer need to carry liability insurance, I would have probably looked at you crazy. Why? At that time, I knew of nobody that had been injured or killed while taking a photograph. I would have told another photographer, "Just cover your gear and you're good!" Today with photographers taking photographs on more and more railroad tracks (usually illegal), private property, and other places; placing clients in danger, I have done a total about face on this subject. 

One of the first weddings I've ever shot, I ended up booking, because the other photographers did not carry liability insurance. The venue required only $100,000 at the time, and I was covered for that. I didn't think anything of it though, until after the fact when I found out why I had won the booking, and started seeing more and more venues require liability coverage. These days, usually between $1 Million and $5 Million at some of the premium venues.  

Simply put, EVERY vendor you work with should be insured for the unforeseen. In most cases, the insurance is pretty affordable, and there are companies who specialize in photography studios and businesses. This is a legitimate question to ask your photographer, and the answer should always be, "YES!"

If you find a vendor who DOESN'T carry basic business liability insurance, be very concerned. This could be a signal that he doesn't have the other requisites in running a legitimate business in his state or city. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. 



Survey Question #19: When do I have to pay?

With weddings and photography sessions getting more and more expensive, many photographers are offering flexible payment solutions it's always nice to know when the money is due. 

With weddings and events, most photographers will charge a retainer and reservation fee. This can range from a fixed amount to the full amount, but on average, what I have  seen is that the retainer is usually in the neighborhood of 50%. The reservation fee/retainer is usually nonrefundable and locks you in, as well as your photographer in for that date. The balances can be due before, day of, or after the event. I have a policy of 60 days prior to the wedding/event. The reason why, is because there are so many things going on in the last two months of wedding planning, I want to minimize the financial stress during that time as much as possible. 

The payoff date may change for portrait and corporate sessions, or on a case by case basis. 

The thing that clients should keep in mind is to KNOW the installment schedule if your photographer offers one, and to pay on time, or early if possible. Ask your photographer if they have an automatic payment plan, and if there are any incentives for using one.


  1. Always ask for an installment plan if it will make it easier for you to hire the photographer. You might be surprised at the flexibility.
  2. Give yourself plenty of time. The longer the period between booking and the event or session, the more manageable the installments can be. 
  3. Consider alternative funding lines. If your photographer accepts Paypal, you can use a program such as the "Buy Now, Pay Later" program which pays your photographer immediately, but offers you up to 6 months, interest free. 
  4. When possible pay as much, as early as possible. 

What are some tips that you have to share? 




The Survey Questions: #20. When will the photos be ready?

This is the first of a series of questions that I want to answer for brides, grooms, and all interested. This blog deals with the age old question regarding when will the pictures be delivered. 

Almost a hundred years ago, the "instant" camera was invented. It would take almost 50 years before instant film and cameras would be popular with the mainstream and accessible. With the advent of digital photography and cameras on our phones, the push to get images faster and faster grows stronger. I know many of us wish we had the photos even BEFORE they are taken, but that whole space-time thing.... 

Depending on the nature of the photography AND photographer, images can be ready moments after the event, or months. There is no right or wrong answer, but only that of expressed expectations. Keep in mind, your photographer wants to put his or her best images out there, and deliver to you the very best. 

When editing and retouching is involved, a good rule of thumb is 30-90 days. Do some photographers deliver in 24-96 hours, yes, but not all are created equal, and when dealing with single person studios, that photographer not only has to photograph sessions, but meet with new clients, deliver photos to current clients, edit images, and still run the other aspects of the business. 

I have a 60 day clause in my contracts, but depending on time of year, my goal is within 30 days for most jobs, and often within 10 days for proofs. When albums are ordered, or other large prints, I ask for 90-180 days. The goal is always to underpromise and overdeliver. 

Sometimes we hear horror stories of clients waiting years to get photos or albums. We'll hear of how they spent thousands on their wedding, but what is often not told, is that they still OWE thousands on that wedding photography. I'll address the importance of a reasonable payment schedule in another post. 

In summary, make sure you ask your wedding photographer clearly when the photos will be ready. Have a reasonable turnover date in mind. Do not be afraid to place incentives and penalties in the contract as well. This may end up being a win win for both parties. Also, if the photographer has any deadlines, such as proofing or premier dates, be sure to keep them. This will allow the process to run smoother. Stay tuned for #19 where we discuss the pay schedule. 


DISCLAIMER: These questions come from several online surveys that are given to brides and grooms on websites such as The Knot, Wedding Wire, Wedding and Wedding Flowers, Martha Stewart Wedding and others. This series are an attempt to assist the customer with general answers to help his search and experience


5 Things To Remember in Your Wedding Budget


As many couples start their wedding planning this time of year, I want to add a few tips on things to remember when planning your budget. Hope it helps, and feel free to add any tips in the comments section. 

1. SALES TAX. Ranging anywhere from 5-8% on average, sales tax can become a quick way to break the boundaries of the budget. Remember almost every vendor that you will hire will charge some kind of sales or use tax.

2. VENDOR MEALS. Most, but not all, caterers actually will count vendor meals in the overall count of an estimate. You will have a photographer and assistant(s), DJ, Planner, and other on site vendors that will be there all day, it is customary (but not a requirement) for them to be offered a meal. 

The extra night in a hotel room can add several hundred dollars in unexpected costs to your wedding budget. 

3. HOTEL ROOM. While sometimes, many larger and upscale hotels can offer you a special rate for early check in/late checkout, not all hotels will do this. So keep in mind that the hotel room that you need for 9am on Saturday morning, may have to be checked into on Friday afternoon with a Sunday morning checkout. 

4. COUNSELING. Pre-marriage counseling is a requirement in some states these days to getting a quick marriage license. This can be done for a offering to a church or through several services. While in the grand scheme, not a large expense, it is one of those expenses that may catch a bride and groom off guard, especially when they most need it. That Tuesday afternoon before they fly to Vegas for the wedding that weekend. 

5. MARRIAGE LICENSE. In most jurisdictions, the license runs as much as a couple of hundred dollars, but is often one of the last parts of the wedding that many couples apply for. If applying for a license in a different state, make sure you know what their policies are when it comes to getting a license. Especially as listed above with counselling. 

The average wedding is around $25,000 right now. If you take in consideration just THESE 5 costs, on average you will run into about $2,000-3000 in costs that often are not realized until the last minute. There are many more such as the gifts for bride/groom, parents, groomsmen/bridesmaids; the parties/rehearsal dinners, even the alterations of gowns and tuxedos. The more you know when planning, the better you can plan. 


Increase value when trying to save money on your wedding.

Increase value when trying to save money on your wedding.

Price is what you pay, Value is what you get. ~ Warren Buffet