Weddings are expensive affairs. Even if you elope you’ll have to pay for the trip, and couples that opt for a no-fuss civil ceremony down at the local courthouse will have to pay for a marriage license at the very least. And you’ll likely want some photos to commemorate the big day, whether you’re hosting a 200-person event at a fancy country club or you’re tying the knot with your two best friends for witnesses and a justice of the peace delivering the ceremony. But if you’re working with a limited budget, or you’d rather devote your funds to hiring a wedding planner, booking the perfect venue, or buying that Vera Wang gown you’ve had your eye on, the cost of a professional photographer may be out of the question. However, you no doubt want to remember your special day for years to come, so photos are a necessary evil. Here are just a few options, though, if you want plenty of pictures without the cost of a wedding photographer.
The best way to get professional-quality photos without the attendant cost is to find yourself a pro-in-training. But how do you locate an amateur photographer that’s good enough to immortalize your wedding without charging an arm and a leg? As it happens there are several options. For one thing, you can go to a photo studio. Most of the people who work there have received only minimal training in the studio setting, but they know the basics of lighting, layout, and composition, making them a decent option as wedding photographers. Many have had at least some formal training in photography and they’ll likely work for a much smaller fee than a pro. And if you go to a ritzy studio (as opposed to, say, Sears or Walmart) you may even find an apprentice to take on your job.
You might also think about going to a local high school, college, or even an art institute to see if there are any students interested in tackling a paying gig. Some students would do it just for the experience and the opportunity to add to their portfolio, but if you want to interest the best and brightest pupils you should definitely offer payment as part of the deal (even if it’s significantly less than you’d pay for a professional). Of course, you could also consider calling in a favor if you have a family member or friend who dabbles in photography, or asking a loved one to do it as a wedding present, but if you don’t have an associate that’s up to the task you might have to pay for it.
As one final option you could simply employ all of your guests as amateur photographers. Plenty of them will probably bring their digital cameras anyway, and it’s not much trouble for them to email you their photos or send you a disc after the fact. Or you could simply provide disposable cameras for everyone, ask them to take photos throughout the ceremony and reception, and then have a designated guest collect them for you at the end of the night. You’ll certainly get more candid photos this way. You might just want to shop around until you find Los Angeles or Raleigh wedding photographers in your price range. But just know that there are other options for the couple that simply can’t afford a top-notch wedding photographer for their special day.