Wedding Wednesday – Price and Packages: How to Know What you Need from a Photographer

Weddings are expensive, and when thinking of the big-money costs, photography is often toward the top. In its latest numbers, The Knot reports the national average cost of hiring a wedding photographer to be $2,556. However, hit a bridal expo or flip through a bridal magazine and you’re bound to see prices running staggeringly higher. There went the budget, amiright? To make matters worse, when discussing where to spend and where to save, wedding articles so often remind brides-to-be to hire a great photographer and avoid using a free friend, as the photos are a lifelong reminder of the beautiful big day. (Which is true.)

Plain and simple, the entire thing can be confusing. There are add-ons, coupons, seasonal pricing, and serious printing regulations. Just from my hunt for the perfect photographer, I realized one needs to read the fine print and find out about printing rights, advertising rights, digital file licensing, cost minimums, and more. What may look like a few simple package options can be baffling… and deciding how to balance your wants and budget can make matters harder.

To help navigate the waters, I have brought in my wedding photographer! I recently talked to St. Louis-area photographer Lillian Peters of Chameleon Imagery about deciding between trendy and timeless wedding photographers; today she is back on the blog to share her professional insight on wedding photo prices and packages.

Wedding Wednesday – Price and Packages: How to Know What you Need from a Photographer - - Photo by Lillian Peters of Chameleon Imagery

Lillian says prices should reflect the demographics of the area. For example, St. Louis is not known as a particularly expensive place to get married, so photographer costs need to reflect that. She estimates most couples in Missouri spend 6 to 12% of the total wedding budget on photography. CNNMoney, using data from The Knot, states that a St. Louis wedding averages out at just under $28,000, making it a few thousand cheaper than the national average of more than $31,000.* With that kind of money on the table, brides- and grooms-to-be need to know what they are buying. Read our conversation below to get an insider look at the costs.

*It should be noted that averages (as opposed to medians) can be misleading about the actual spending habits of populations.

What would you say is the standard length of time for a wedding photographer?
I feel like important parts of most weddings can be captured in 6 to 8 hours. Church weddings that only permit morning or early afternoon ceremonies may result in a later reception or a larger gap between the ceremony and reception. This may require more time than the average wedding.

What should a bride-to-be look for to make sure the package is worth the cost?
Quality images — I cannot stress this enough. There will always be bargains out there, but when you pay a lower price you’re always guaranteed to have lower quality. If it sounds too good to be true, then it is!

If you look at a photographer’s fee like it’s just a per-hour rate, it seems very high. What happens behind the scenes that is factored into that cost?
Most photographers are self-employed, and taxes for self-employment are much higher than someone who works for an employer. There’s also monthly costs, such as equipment and business insurance. Most photographers are responsible for paying for all of their medical coverage, unlike many people whose employers help with those costs. Also, upkeep of gear and additions of new gear add costs. I spent about $12,000 before I had enough equipment to do weddings. The first year I photographed weddings I ended up paying myself less than minimum wage per hour!

How would you help an indecisive bride-to-be select a package?
If it’s about money, talk to the photographer about a payment plan. Most photographers are willing to work with people on that sort of thing. This doesn’t mean the services will be cheaper, but it does mean there might be a way to spread out payments, so you can budget for the photographer you really want to have capture your wedding.

Wedding Wednesday – Price and Packages: How to Know What you Need from a Photographer - - Photo by Lillian Peters of Chameleon Imagery

Is more time always better, or can you book more time than you’ll actually benefit from?
I always ask couples what kind of photos are important to them when I’m asked this. If just the main events are the photos you’ll want to display or print, and you’re not crazy for party photos, you probably don’t need as much reception coverage.

Also, ask your photographer what his or her policy is about adding on extra hours of coverage the day of the wedding. Sometimes things run behind or you end up deciding you’d like more photo time than you thought! If your photographer is flexible about adding on coverage time the day of, only book the amount of time you know you will use. The photographer should be able to give you an accurate quote of this by discussing your timeline with you.

Wedding Wednesday – Price and Packages: How to Know What you Need from a Photographer - - Photo by Lillian Peters of Chameleon Imagery

What services do you think are the most important for brides to budget for?
Albums and books can be made later. Purchasing digital files from your photographer is something that isn’t always an option. As long as you have the files, then printing a book or album will be an option. Digital files should be a priority.**

**Note from Julia: This was my No. 1 priority when picking a photographer!

Tell me a bit about the difference of having a second photographer on-location.
If you have a large wedding party a second photographer is extremely beneficial. This makes wedding party and large family formals go much quicker! Also, this allows for additional perspectives during the ceremony. Lastly, if the bride and groom are getting ready in two different locations, having two photographers (with one at each location) works out really well.

All photos by Lillian Peters of Chameleon Imagery

Never fear! While this post is sponsored, my written opinions are entirely my own.

Pick-Me-Up Patterns

It’s my personal fashion cycle of horror: I get stuck in colorless, pattern-less ruts. I go for grey tops and denim bottoms and cognac shoes, and I might venture out of the neutrals to grab a berry lip stain. Maybe. Probably not. Sometimes I grab a patterned scarf. Perhaps I go for a blue-grey instead of a charcoal. Even with the quick grab of a mustard top (or two) I can feel my style conscience craving more grey v-neck tees. How did I acquire this many grey v-neck tees? Why are they all just different enough to make grabbing your favorite one confusing? With each wear, I slowly push every ‘fun’ piece to the back of the closet.

Sometimes we all need a quick jolt to the system. Mine came in the form of a brief trip to Walt Disney World, a place too colorful and fun to let you come home and wear another grey v-neck tee. Move them to the pajama pile! It’s time for some summer color.

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IMG_20150627_125103 IMG_20150627_170738 - Zebra Circle Midi Skirt with Leopard Top - Summer Outfit (3) - Zebra Circle Midi Skirt with Leopard Top - Summer Outfit (1) - Zebra Circle Midi Skirt with Leopard Top - Summer Outfit (2)

Currently wearing… Zebra midi circle skirt, Express [SEEN HERE] | Pink leopard blouse, TJMaxx [SEEN HERE] | Heels, DSW [SEEN HERE] | Bracelet, vintage | Belt, garage sale

Thanks for the inspiration, Walt Disney World! I think that now makes you the perfect place for a million and one things.

Don’t forget: See more WDW photos at the @ohjuliaann Instagram account, which is where these four came from.

Wedding Wednesday: A Review of The Bride Box

OMGIMGETTINGMARRIED. There is something about being engaged that can make a person want to… how can I say this nicely… dork out. I am dork-ing out. I have been dork-ing out since January and I will continue to dork out through my entire engagement. Sometimes when I’m working on wedding details I find myself singing little songs about it. I stare at my ring. I get emotional when I think about my fiance as my — gasp — husband. It’s practically an engagement epidemic, and all chances of me being cool as a cucumber disappeared faster than the first half of my wedding budget. Let the dork-ing out commence.

But dork-ing out is a little more fun with support. An excited bridesmaid, a new coworker, a sales clerk who sees you buying $200 worth of silk flowers and connects the dots… Anyone, really. Now imagine if you could have the excitement and support once a month, every month, until the big day, complete with a legitimate reason to dork out more than normal.

Meet The Bride Box.

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Opening The Bride Box is like getting to tell some friend who isn’t on social media and somehow missed the big announcement that you’re getting m-a-r-r-i-e-d! Eek! How exciting! This monthly subscription box brings a fun box of wedding goodies to your doorstep while you count down the weeks until the big day. It can even be given as a gift!

While I am a huge lover of monthly subscription boxes, sometimes they seem to cost more than they’re worth. The Bride Box costs in the mid-$30 range per month, depending on how many months you sign up for. Is it worth it? It’s time to find out, as The Bride Box graciously sent me box to review. Let’s first take a peek inside…

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It’s an adorable present wrapped in wedded-bliss-blue, waiting to be unwrapped. Thank you note not required.

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Inside one will find a variety of wedding-themed gifts, as well as some vendor details. My package included four categories: stationary, wedding party, beauty, and attire.

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The first item I noticed was this adorable card by Beau & Arrow. The paper is nice and thick and the colors happen to match my own wedding scheme. Coincidence? (Yes, probably, but I’ll stick with ‘I think not!’ for emphasis.)

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I actually squealed when I pulled these out, as socks hold a special place in my heart. I was proposed to with socks! These groom socks by Aisle Always Love are such a fun gift for your guy! Wouldn’t they be great as groomsmen gifts?

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Up next were three beauty products: The Lash Card and It’s So Big Volumizing Mascara by Elizabeth Mott, and Be a Bombshell Lip Gloss in ‘Mauvelous’. While I can see how they help (and they are pretty easy to use), the Lash Cards — which you hold behind your lashes while you apply mascara — weren’t a huge hit for me simply because I don’t wear enough eye shadow to worry about getting mascara on my eyelids. I tend to skip eye makeup all together any more, actually. I have been making a few exceptions for this It’s So Big Volumizing Mascara, though, as it is entirely smudge- and flake-proof, which were the two reasons I stopped wearing eye makeup to begin with. It is beyond comfortable.

The real winner, though, was this Be A Bombshell Lip Gloss. As a lipstick gal, I really never thought I’d like a lip gloss!

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Above you’ll see what one coat of this full-coverage, non-sticky lip gloss looks like. It stays on for hours, requiring merely one post-lunch touch-up during my nine-hour workday. Wouldn’t this be the perfect natural hue for a blushing bride?

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The final item in the box was this incredibly fun glitter tank by Bachette. As much as I’d like to say I’m too cool to wear a shirt that shows off my insane level of bridal excitement, this would look adorable at a post-party Bachelorette Brunch with a scarf and cardigan, or equally cute as festive PJs or workout attire.

Now, on to the grade: I’d give The Bride Box a solid A+! The packaging was perfect, the products were charming, and the value was entirely there. Just the tank and socks add up to a $33 value! Plus, the company has a carefully-curated wedding Pinterest account, which is so many of our favorite reasons to use that social media tool. Don’t pretend like you haven’t looked up at least one dress…

Happy Wedding Wednesday!

Summer Weekend Uniform

I have had the same salad four times in the last week. I’m actually eating leftovers of it right now, as Yogurt tries to steal some thinking maybe he’ll like it. (He won’t.)

Every summer, like clockwork, I obsess over the Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad at Saint Louis Bread Co… much like autumn’s Caramel Apple Milkshake at Steak ‘n Shake and the on-again, off-again Chicken Fries at Burger King. I fall victim to the marketing ploys of limited-edition foods and I obsess. I get in the routine, I order it again and again, blah blah blah. I do the same thing with hairdos and makeup looks and outfits once I find one I like. It looks good, it’s easy, I’m done. That’s why you call it your morning routine, yeah?

Long story short, my summer uniform is no different. I’m addicted, it’s all I want to wear, all hail comfort in the heat.

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Currently wearing… Top, Marshalls [SIMILAR] | Shorts, DIY | Booties, c/o Naturalizer [SIMILAR] | Bag, Target

Now, back to salad.

Dashing Dinos

We went to see Jurassic World over the weekend, and all I could think of was one of my all-time favorite conversations with my mother: I was probably about fourteen, and we were sitting in her car talking about science. “With everything they can do now, I don’t understand why they haven’t cloned dinosaurs and stuff, like they did in Jurassic Park. They can do all kinds of things! I’m just surprised that hasn’t actually happened.”

My mother furrowed her brow and turned her head to me slowly. With great emphasis and an intense tone, she wrapped up our conversation in five simple words. “Did you SEE Jurassic Park?”

Valid point, Mom.

Honestly, if the movies taught me anything, it’s that Jurassic Park would totally work if they only brought back herbivores. (In movie world, I mean, because in the real world I don’t know jack shit about science, and from what I can see every bit of dino-sci I thought I knew was a lie.) Why bring back carnivores, fictional Jurassic Park characters? To scare people? To draw crowds? Did you learn NOTHING across four movies? As a marketing professional, I’ve gotta say that if you can’t keep Herbivore Island an interesting tourist destination, you’re simply not trying hard enough.

In case you were wondering, Jurassic World was really good. I don’t know if spoilers for a movie like this really exist, as you can already guess what happens — scientists make dinosaurs, that’s a terrible idea, someone talks about why it’s a terrible idea, children end up without an adult, etc. — but I still won’t go too far into the plot. So long as you don’t mind the predictability, this flick is a fantastic way to spend two hours. Actually, it was a little longer than that, so spring for the popcorn.

Now, anyone else feeling a little mad about the Mesozoic Era? Let’s dig in, shall we? (Har har, dino puns.)


Need ’em? Ring | Earrings | Twin Set | Clutch | Tee | Clutch | Tee | Dress

Also, these:

Let’s be honest, Jurassic Park: There was only one time dinosaurs and humans interacted peacefully, and it was when they made hilarious pets.