Ask A Pro: How Much Does a Wedding Photographer Cost in LA?

One of the most frequent questions I hear from couples, friends, and wedding industry professionals is “How much should I spend on a wedding photographer?”. Of course that’s a complicated question for just about anything. Just like if you were buying a car or a house or a phone, the answer depends on a few factors:

  • What are you looking to get?

  • How much does quality matter to you?

  • Are you willing to take risks?

  • Is the experience itself important?

And, maybe surprisingly, another key question:

  • Where do you live?

So I’m going to address all these questions, and then—I promise—give you a real number answer you can work with.

So let’s address that last factor first…

Why Where You Get Married Affects the Cost

If you’ve ever lived in a city, you may have looked at rent in the middle of farm country and thought: maybe I should pack up and get some chickens and move there! Because the difference in costs in unreal!

So how does this affect your wedding costs: unfortunately, the same way. Taxes, insurance rates, office expenses, business licenses, utilities, and advertising all can cost more in bigger cities. Not only is the cost of doing business greater, but there can be more competition and more demand, which can both affect a vendor’s costs.

For example, here are some big cities’ rates:

Depending on where you look, you may see higher or lower rates than these, but these were the ones I could find that appeared the most accurate.

So why not get married in the middle of nowhere? Well, big cities have a lot going for them: scenic locations, built-in infrastructure, accessible airports and transportation, available local hotels, more variety of vendor options. Cities also tend to have more convenient, ‘mid point’ locations for guests traveling to the wedding.

Why Different Photographers Have Different Prices

Okay, so you live in a big city and you’ve come to terms with that and are ready to start shopping around for photographers. But why is there still such a range?

Well…again, just like cars or cell phones, there are a lot of reasons why one may cost more than the other.

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The big factors in price tend to be…

EXPERIENCE

How long has the photographer been in business? Do they have a proven track record and portfolio? A more experienced photographer is usually a safer bet, will have more client reviews, and will tend to have a consistent style in their images. You can also expect an experienced photographer to be better at handling groups, sticking to schedules, and dealing with unexpected emergencies.

PRODUCTS

Are you looking for albums? Prints? These things will tend to cost more than a few digital files because they require up-front, physical costs.

SERVICES

Will you need two photographers? Do you want photo editing included? Will you need 6 hours or 8 hours? All of these things involve more time and expense on the photographer’s end. If you want your skin to look flawless or have to have getting ready photos, those will factor in to how much your package will be.

ARTISTRY

Some photographers specialize in a particular style or creative look. If a photographer is bringing their artistic vision to their photography, that will usually be reflected in a higher price. Less expensive photographers may have more of a ‘point and shoot’ approach, but creative photography tends to come with a price that fits the creative effort.

QUALITY

Higher prices tend to also reflect a higher level of quality all around. You’ll see this not just in photographic quality, but also in the quality of customer experience. More professional photographers tend to have a heavy emphasis on better communication, positive client experience, and a more polished approach from start to finish. You’ll also tend to see properly insured businesses and clear-cut written contracts at this level, which minimizes your risk.

↑ Prices = ↑ Value?

It’s important to note that while higher prices tend to reflect higher quality and lower prices tend to reflect lower quality, there will always be exceptions to the rule. Some expensive photographers produce sub-par photos and some cheap photographers can produce excellent work. Always look into reviews and a photographer’s portfolio, and meet with them if you can, before making any booking decisions. But just like you might question a $90 cell phone or a $1000 new car, it’s always best to assume if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

So How Much Should I Pay?

Okay, so here is my take (based on experience and my knowledge of the local market) for local LA prices. (Again…these will vary depending on where you live.)

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If you’re aiming for a typical photography package for an LA area wedding, you can expect to spend around $3500. For a wedding with under 100 guests, on an off-peak date, or under 6 hours, you can expect to spend less. For a wedding over 150 guests, on a holiday or holiday weekend, or over 10 hours, you can expect to spend more.

Luxury photographers in LA can charge $5,000 to $10,000, and even more. While their services may come with some incredible artistry and lots of added perks, you should know that these are luxury prices and you should expect a matching experience.

In Los Angeles I would be skeptical of any photographer charging under $2000 for a full wedding day. They should be willing to explain why their prices are too low.

The most important thing to remember: I believe in educating yourself on industry standards, because knowledge helps you make a good decision. But how you get along with a photographer and how much you like their work should be key factors in choosing one photographer over another. It’s important to set a realistic budget but once you’re looking at photographers in your range, make that final decision based on style and personality. Choose a photographer you feel comfortable with, whose photos you enjoy most, and you’ll thank yourself later.


PS. If you like my style and want to know my pricing, you can get my pricing guide by filling out this quick request form.

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HAVE A QUESTION THAT YOU’D LIKE ME TO ANSWER ON THE BLOG? EMAIL ME AT JADEELORAPHOTO+QA@GMAIL.COM .

Cat & Justin's Vibrant Murrieta Estate Wedding
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Cat and Justin had a gorgeous intimate wedding at a private estate in Murrieta, surrounded by local vineyards. Their red, black, and white color scheme worked perfectly with all the fresh greenery around.

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Isn’t this just perfect weather for a wedding? It was a pretty hot day but cooled a bit right around ceremony time. The bride’s brother served as their officiant. The guests and the bride and groom all made jokes and had a great sense of humor. At the end of the ceremony, they even gathered for a selfie at the altar.

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Since this was an earlier ceremony, there was a lot of intense sunlight, but it was a fun challenge to work with. The light hit my lens in such a way that many of the ceremony photos had rainbows in them! I could’ve edited them all out, but I kept some because I actually love the way they look!

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I love a good Southern California sunset! The pinks and purples were especially magical behind the poolside reception and string lights. An added SoCal bonus was that the comfortable weather lasted well into the evening!

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THEIR VENDOR TEAM

Photography: Jade Elora Photography
Venue: Casa de Companero, Murrieta, CA

The Best Colorful Wedding Venues in Los Angeles
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If you haven't already noticed, I'm a big fan of colorful and fun weddings that are full of personality. For all my like-minded friends out there, I've compiled a list of my favorite LA venues to throw a bold and bright wedding bash that will wow your guests and make your photos pop.

The Fig House

6433 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90042

Arguably the most quintessential example of a colorful wedding venue in all of Los Angeles, The Fig House is overflowing with bright colors, chic mid-century furniture, custom art, and geometric stained glass. This space is a rather unassuming royal blue building on the outside, but an incredibly decorated modern space on the inside. While this bold style will definitely drive any color palette decisions, their carefully-crafted aesthetic means the decorating is practically done for you.

Size: 15,000 Sq. Ft. Total

Rates: $6,500+

Capacity: Accommodates up to 250 seated guests or 450 standing/cocktail

Details: Indoor & Outdoor spaces available. Built-in bar. Furniture included in rentals. Getting ready spaces on site.

Website: FigHouseLA.com


The Ruby Street

6408 Ruby St, Los Angeles, CA 90042

This impeccably restored 1890s arts and crafts style building has instant character as it welcomes you with its azure blue exterior and original stained glass windows. This idyllic former church is located in a historically protected neighborhood and surrounded by lemon trees. Inside, the space is decked with an eclectic mix of custom, vintage-inspired furniture and unique modern decor, all in vivid colors. The property also has a large outdoor space complete with outdoor bar.

Size: 4,000 Sq. Ft. Interior

Rates: $6,500-$7,000

Capacity: Accommodates up to 200 guests (175 indoors)

Details: Indoor & Outdoor spaces available. Outdoor bar. Getting ready spaces on site.

Website: TheRubyStreet.com


The Lodge at Malibou Lake

29033 Lake Vista Dr, Agoura Hills, CA 91301

The Lodge is a beautiful property across from Malibou Lake, in a small community nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains. Their expansive property has a vintage-meets-outdoorsy vibe and features several impeccably styled ‘ready rooms’, a massive front lawn area overlooking the lake, a large ballroom with a stunning bay window, a large covered porch, and a cool library bar. The property itself has loads of personality, but its main areas (the ballroom and lawn) are also the simplest in design, so there’s still room to customize the look.

Size: 2,460 Sq. Ft. Ballroom/4,457 Total Covered Guest Space/25,000 Sq. Ft. Outdoor Space

Rates: $3,300 - $6,700

Capacity: Accommodates up to 280 guests

Details: Indoor & Outdoor spaces available. Getting ready spaces on site. Furniture & Tableware included. On-site kitchen.

Website: MalibouLakeLodge.com


The York Manor

4908 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042

When you think of colorful venues, The York Manor’s all-white interior may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Ironically, this crisp, clean white look is precisely why it works so well with bright party color palettes. Just about any color will work in this space. The black-and-white exterior has a fun, graphic look, and its bright-red double door entrance and lush greenery in both the front and back yards give just enough color without limiting your color choices, so anything goes!

Size: 4,000 Sq. Ft. Interior/10,000 Sq. Ft. Total

Rates: $4,500 - $6,500

Capacity: Accommodates up to 220 guests

Details: Indoor & Outdoor spaces available. Underground speakeasy can be added on. On-site kitchen.

Website: TheYorkManor.com


The Maxwell House

55 S Grand Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

The Maxwell House’s Italian-inspired architecture, warm pink entryway walls, and elaborate details make this space a 1920’s vintage dream castle. Originally built as a singular bungalow, the historic property features multiple large rooms (including a kitchen) and an open garden patio with string lighting. The best part? Bookings benefit the Western Justice Center, a non-profit working to address homophobia, racism, sexism, and other forms of hate.

Rates: $6,500

Capacity: Accommodates up to 120 guests

Details: Indoor & Outdoor spaces available. Getting ready spaces on site. On-site kitchen. Bookings support the Western Justice Center.

Website: MaxwellHousePasadena.com


*Just a reminder, rates and details listed are based on currently available information at the time this blog was written. Rental rates and options change frequently as costs, inflation, availability, and offerings change over time. Contact the venue directly for their latest pricing and other information.

Glinda the Good Witch Same-Sex Wedding Inspiration
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Have you ever watched The Wizard of Oz and thought, you know, the Emerald City is great and all, but couldn’t it be pink instead? If so, welcome to the wedding of your dreams! Taking inspiration from everyone’s favorite bubble-traveling Oz resident, Glinda the Good Witch, this magical wedding is everything you need right now. And bonus, you don’t even have to take a tornado to get there!

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This beautiful invitation suite was designed by Alexis Designs Things, as were all the paper goods. I just love all the little crown details. And of course, an Oz wedding wouldn’t be complete without the iconic yellow brick road!

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One bride donned a traditional Glinda look with a gorgeous gown from Glimmerwood. The look was topped off with an ornate crown and starburst earrings (which were a subtle nod to the shape of Glinda’s magic wand).

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The other bride wore a white jumpsuit and blazer set with a gold sequin top and these bejeweled Vince Camuto shoes.

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Warning: If you thought these photos were giving you cuteness overload already, turn back now. Because we left out one little (fluffy) detail that we have to get to. Introducing: Penny Lane the Pomeranian, rocking her own custom pink ensemble and pearl collar for the occasion. Toto’s got nothing on this cutie!

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We’ve also got to talk about this incredible, overflowing rose pink bouquet! Florally Ever After created all the gorgeous florals you see.

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And what’s the next best thing to flying around in a bubble? Well, lots and lots of balloons from the incredible Balloonzilla, of course! How beautiful is this ceremony backdrop inside the historic Maxwell House?! And yes, the walls are pink!

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Doesn’t this pink veil with gold lace from Julie Harris Designs work so beautifully with this dress? They were meant to be!

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Okay guys, I cannot stop gushing about how beautifully this came together! Rock n’ Willow Events’ styling and planning on this was killer! The Maxwell House has tables and chairs already available for events, and with a few extra tabletop details from La Piñata Party Rentals, it was a sparkly paradise. The theme extended into pink cocktails from LA Speakeasy and custom candle favors from Gourmet Wedding Gifts (in scents like ‘Troubles Melt Like Lemon Drops’ and ‘Poppy Field Dreams’).

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How delightful are these cocktails garnished with real flowers, rock candy, and cotton candy! (PS. Gourmet Wedding Gifts customized these ‘hers and hers’ champagne flutes.)

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This gorgeous work of art cake was created by the incredible Sweet Novelette. I’m constantly blown away by the edible sculptures she creates!

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What better way to welcome guests than with personalized mini champagne bottles and the world’s yummiest stroopwafel cookies with custom quotes. (Again, from Gourmet Wedding Gifts!)

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This photo (below) may be one of my favorites of any I’ve ever taken. The colors, the love, and the absolutely scandalized look on Penny Lane’s face really just make it perfect!

Another bonus about The Maxwell House, besides it being stunning: When not hosting events, it’s home to The Western Justice Center, an nonprofit that supports marginalized groups and provides anti-bullying education.

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If you haven’t gotten enough sparkly goodness (and I know I haven’t!), check out this GORGEOUS video of the day from Milestones of Love!

CREDITS

Photography: Jade Elora Photography
Videography: Milestones of Love
Styling / Planning: Rock n’ Willow Events
Venue: The Maxwell House
Balloons: Balloonzilla
Tabletop Rentals: La Piñata Party Rentals
Cake: Sweet Novelette
Florist:  Florally Ever After
Stationery: Alexis Designs Things
Dress: Glimmerwood
Veil & Accessories:  Julie Harris Designs
Customized Favors: Gourmet Wedding Gifts
Cocktails: LA Speakeasy
Hair: Beauty By Carla
Makeup: Yanet Perla
Couple: Yanet Perla & Iliana Ortiz

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