I, for one, love the micro wedding trend and hope that it’s here to stay! The days are intimate and easily personalized, unique, and tailored to the couple and their guests. The small guest count has given couples permission to think more outside the box about the traditions they want to forgo and those they value deeply and want to include. I love how creative and beautiful the micro weddings I captured in 2020 each were. And as more couples plan their own micro weddings for 2021, they’re seeing opportunities to save money in some areas of planning as well (yay!). I realize this is a positive thing for so many couples, and I want to share an explanation for why the cost of micro wedding photography will likely still be one of your main investments in the day.
Calculating the Cost of Micro Wedding Photography
Simply put, as your wedding photographer I calculate my pricing based on several things. First, I consider the time I spend supporting you before the wedding (including but not limited to planning calls, scouting photo locations, and creating engagement portraits with you). Next, I include the hours I spend creating images on your wedding day, as well as the time and expertise I bring to carefully editing and delivering your final images in the weeks following your wedding. Therefore, the number of guests you have in attendance plays only a very small role in my calculations because it has a comparatively a small bearing on the time and expertise I just mentioned.
Instead, what will have a much bigger impact on the total investment you make in wedding photography, are the number of wedding day traditions you plan to incorporate and want photographed. Wedding day traditions take time and the more of them you want to include in your micro wedding, the more time you’ll need. Most of those actually aren’t impacted at all by your guest count. So, a small guest list doesn’t necessarily mean a smaller investment in photography.
There Are Exceptions
There are exceptions. With a micro wedding you won’t need a second photographer. One photographer can easily capture all of your guests during cocktail hour or portrait time. The second photographer isn’t essential like I find them to be for larger guest counts. However, the main savings comes when couples decide to cut down on the number of traditions they include.
For example, in 2020 I captured a few micro weddings for wonderful couples who kept their photography coverage to just two-three hours. They hired me only a couple months in advance and didn’t do an engagement session. This made they’re investment level much lower than my typical wedding collections. To do this, they made the decision to cut down the number of traditions that were photographed. They didn’t do a first dance, or have me capture speeches over dinner, or capture getting ready. Instead, they most deeply valued the ceremony, couples portraits, and family portraits, and had me there for ONLY those parts of the day. We even squeezed in a quick post-ceremony champagne toast for two of the couples!
Wedding Day Traditions Take Time
But this kind of abbreviated photography coverage is not what many couples have in mind when they embrace the micro wedding concept. And I totally understand that! The traditions that make up a wedding day are so important. As your photographer I want you to enjoy each and every one.
In fact, most of my couples who held micro weddings last year had a full wedding day. They were complete with all of the traditions, from getting ready to parent dances and cake cutting. They simply celebrated with a more intimate group than they originally planned for. In those cases I worked with my couples for several months in advance of their weddings. Most of these couples also took engagement photos. On the day of the wedding I was there for 6.5 to 8 hours – the same range of time I am with my couples for a full wedding with a guest count of 150. And I had the same amount of editing work to do after the day was over.
Let’s dive deeper and talk through the various wedding day traditions you may have in mind and the approximate time each one takes so we can see just how quickly the time adds up. Keep in mind these times may differ for other photographers and are based on my decade of experience photographing weddings:
Getting Ready Preparations – 45-60 min
Bridal Details (rings, invitation, veil, shoes, etc) – 30-45 min
Couples Portraits – 30-45 min
Wedding Party Portraits – 30-40 min
Family Portraits – 30-40 min
Ceremony – 30-60 min
Cocktail Hour – 45-60 min
Toasts over dinner – 25-45 min
First Dance – 5-7 min
Parent Dances – 7-10 min
Cake Cutting – 5-7 min
Based on the quickest times for each of these traditions you’d still need over four hours of photography coverage. Based on the longest times you’d need about seven hours.
And this doesn’t include any time for transportation to and from the ceremony or portrait locations, or for the time it takes to gather your family members for photos. It also doesn’t include natural pauses that I always cushion time for, to allow things to flow organically, rather than sprinting from one thing to the next.
Ultimately, photography is an investment in the memories you’ll relive for a lifetime together. Creating beautiful memories of you and your loved ones celebrating your wedding takes time. It takes time to let the day unfold, time to breathe in the emotions, and time to create beautiful images and capture candid moments. For this reason, even with just 10-20 people in attendance, your investment in photography may still look similar to the one you’d make if you had a much larger guest list.
I hope you found this helpful and that it allows you to better understand the cost of micro wedding photography! I’m always up for good conversation and happy to answer any questions you may have. Don’t be shy! Reach out over email via my contact form or find me on IG!