How much does videography cost for a wedding?
One of the biggest questions I get as a wedding videographer is a pretty simple, straight-forward question: “How much does videography cost for a wedding?!”
Many wedding creatives HATE this question, and a big reason for that is because we really want to explain to you WHY, before we get that “OMG, never mind, that’s way too expensive” eye-roll. So…in this blog post, I really want to do 3 things:
Give you an upfront, honest answer about what you can expect to pay for wedding videography based on the creativity and quality you are looking for.
Give you our own pricing and packages
“Lift the veil” and explain IN DETAIL why we charge what we do (haha wedding puns).
The Wide Range of Wedding Videography Prices...
As soon as you start researching wedding videographers, you’ll probably quickly realize that there are a WIDE range of prices from one videographer to the next, and yes, that’s REALLY confusing.
Wedding Videography investments can range anywhere from $800 to $20,000 or MORE depending on who you’re inquiring with. That’s a WILD range of options, so what is the difference?!
Just like there are a wide range of options when it comes to purchasing a car, the same is true of booking a wedding videographer. Sure, all the cars will get you from point A to point B, but the cheapest car you can buy will probably give you some serious engine issues along the way, won’t have a warranty, and won’t make you feel excited to drive it. On the other end of the spectrum, if you spend a lot of money and buy a Bentley or a Ferrari, you are going to feel AMAZING driving that car, any engine issues will be covered by a warranty, and you’ll have a lot of peace of mind with the customer service you’ll get.
Well, the same is true of wedding videographers. Sure, you can go with an $800 wedding videographer, but how much peace of mind are you getting by hiring someone who is most likely inexperienced, uninsured, and not running their business legally (I’ll explain later why this price point is such a red flag). On the other end, you can invest $20k+ on a wedding videography and get the “Ferrari” of wedding film experiences.
So, what falls between these 2 price points?
How much can I realistically expect to spend on a wedding
Realistically, you should expect to spend between $3,000 to $8,000 for a quality, creative wedding videographer. Again, there are a TON of variables in this price range, like what kind of edited films you’ll receive, how many hours of coverage you’re looking for, and how experienced your wedding videographer is, but overall this price range is a good jumping off point. Our own prices fall in the middle of this price range based on our own level of experience and creativity plus other variables in our market. If you decide to book us as your totally awesome wedding videographer in Maine, you can expect to invest between $5,200 and $6,700 (with a ton of goodies included in those 2 price points!). Interested in having us capture your wedding? Reach out to us!
What determines the price of a wedding videographer?
There are 2 main variables which I believe help determine a wedding videographer’s price (or at least should! Too many wedding videographers undervalue their work!) And that is EXPERIENCE and CREATIVITY. Check out this cool info-graphic I made…
The more experience, and the higher the level of creativity and ingenuity a wedding film maker has, the higher their price point is going to be.
Experience, by the way, does not necessarily translate into how many years they’ve been shooting weddings! Experience can come from working with other vendors in the industry, prioritizing learning new skills and techniques, constantly striving to improve their quality of edits, etc! Some of the most cringe-worthy wedding films I’ve watched have come from videographers with decades under their belt, and some of the BEST wedding films I’ve seen come from videographers who have been shooting weddings less than 5 years! Time does NOT equal experience!
Another variable in videography pricing is location: both where your wedding is located, and where the videographer is located. For example, a wedding videographer who lives in New York City is going to charge a lot MORE than a wedding videographer who lives in Akron, Ohio, regardless of where they are shooting a wedding, simply because their own cost-of-living is different. If you plan on hiring a videographer who is located out-of-state, or bringing a videographer along for a destination wedding, you should expect an additional travel fee on top of the package you book with. Different videographers have different ways of calculating travel fees. At the time and location of writing this (2022 in Maine), we charge a flat travel fee of $1500 for domestic weddings, and $2000 for international weddings, and this fee covers EVERYTHING from hotels to car rental to food for two people (myself and Jon). In our experience, the “flat travel fee” model is the easiest and most convenient for our couples, comes with no surprises, and there’s no worrying about reimbursement AFTER the wedding.
Many couples may not know this, but there are 2 general business models for wedding creatives that also effect how much they charge, and those are boutique and volume models. “Boutique” wedding videographers typically limit the number of weddings per year they’ll take on, and because of this, their prices will be higher. However, boutique videographers are very often the sole filmmaker and editor of their videos, and you’re going to receive a higher quality experience, not to mention a wedding video that is truly custom and tailored to your story. Volume brands, on the other hand, operate by booking hundreds of weddings a year at a cheap price point. They are operated and managed by many people, and offer “affordable” or “cheap” alternatives for wedding videography. The client experience and communication, many times, is lacking or non existent, and the wedding video you receive is a very standard template that an outsourced editor creates within a matter of hours. This isn’t to say that ALL volume brands are bad, but I personally have received MANY phone calls from volume brands asking me to film a wedding for them THE SAME WEEK! Can you imagine hiring a company that contracts a random videographer you’ve never met to film your wedding at THE LAST MINUTE?! Honestly, I think this is a shameful business model that tarnishes the perception of wedding videography. I highly advise doing some solid solid due diligence before hiring a volume brand: read reviews, watch their films, and ask a lot of questions.
Is there ways to save money on a wedding videographer?
Why yes! Yes there are!
With our brand specifically, since we offer BOTH videography and photography, we offer discounted packages when couples book us for BOTH services. Our combined videography and photography packages are discounted between $800-$1200 compared to booking videography or photography alone. Why? Well, there are many reasons, but the biggest reason is that it means I get to work alongside my husband, and my job becomes instantly easier that way. It’s also less admin work for us if we can book a wedding together.
We also offer a smaller package at a discounted rate for weekday (Monday-Thursday) elopement weddings. Elopements typically make for shorter, more condensed wedding films, and we’re able to accommodate weddings like this at a discounted rate, because we don’t include them in our tally for the number of weddings we take on per year.
Attending a local wedding expo is a great place to find discounts and giveaways from not only wedding videographers, but nearly any wedding vendor you’re looking for. As an example, whenever we exhibit at an expo, we will typically do a drawing for a free engagement film, as well as extend different levels of discounts based on how soon you book.
Make sure to ask a videographer you’re inquiring with if they offer any type of vocation discounts. For example, we offer discounts to K-12 educators.
If your wedding falls during “off season” where you live, you may be able to find a wedding videographer who will offer discounts during this time. This is something we do NOT do, because we use off-season to catch up with editing, update our website, and take some MUCH NEEDED time off. We’ve also found that off-season weddings typically mean heat and sweating is involved, and we’re not big fans lol.
And the last way to save some money (and many of my wedding videography friends may be upset by this one), is to simply ask, “Is there anything I can do in exchange for a discount?” A couple years ago when I REALLY wanted a couple to film their reaction to watching their wedding video for the first time, I offered them a couple hundred dollars off if they agreed to do that for me. Or sometimes if we have a couple who wants us to film rehearsal dinner, we’ll offer a discount if they can book us a room at their venue so we don’t have to travel between rehearsal dinner and the wedding the next day. You never know! But DON’T just ask for a discount because you don’t like their prices, it’s insulting and there is a REASON behind our prices, I promise!
So...Why does wedding videography cost what it does?
Cost #1: Equipment
Let’s clear something up right here, right now. A wedding videographer at the same price point as a comparable wedding photographer will have DOUBLE the equipment as that photographer. DOUBLE. If not more! I question CONSTANTLY why so many videographers under value themselves when the most BASIC of overhead costs is SO MUCH HIGHER than that of photographers. Here’s just a quick list of equipment videographers use at a typical wedding:
- camera bodies (3 to 5)
- lights and stands
- tripods, monopods, and gimbals
- audio recording equipment
The other big equipment cost is the tool we NEED to edit your footage together: the computer…which has to be upgraded every 5 years or so when we upgrade camera gear. Technology moves FAST, and whenever the “standard” bar gets raised (i.e. 1080p vs. 4k quality), upgrading camera gear and computers is probably our biggest business expense. Filming and editing up-to-date, high quality footage has a cost that plays a role in what we charge for wedding videography. If we don’t even include things like tripods, light stands, and audio equipment, and total up the cost of camera bodies (not including lenses) and a new computer, once every 5 years (and usually at the same time), we spend about $10,000 on upgrading gear. If we spread that cost out over a 5-year period, that’s roughly $2000 a year on new equipment. This number will be included later when we do some fun math and tally up how much business overhead videographers actually have.
Cost #2: Business Overhead
I’ll keep this section pretty short and to-the-point, but I simply wanted to list all of our other overhead business expenses that have an impact on where our package prices start.
TAXES, ugh, both federal and state: 15.3% of every package we book gets sent to the big man as income tax. As an example, if you book a $4000 videography package, $612 of that gets sent to the government (but yes, I try to deduct as much as I possibly can so I can get SOME of that back at the end of the year.)Depending on which state your videographer lives in, another chunk of that gets sent to the local big man as state income tax. As a Maine wedding videographer, about 7% of our income disappears as state tax.
Credit card fees (3%) - About 75% of our couples pay for their wedding videography package with a credit card, which equates to several thousand dollars a year in just credit card fees. Just for perspective, last year our overhead cost for credit card fees was $2,967.97. Yup...almost THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS that never made it to us. That's almost the cost of an entire elopement package.
2nd shooter/assistant for each wedding - This is something we’ve built in to the pricing of our packages because I’ve learned how detrimental it can be to not have someone there in charge of moving equipment, acquiring audio, covering cocktail hour, and making sure I don’t leave anything behind at the end of the night. We pay our 2nd shooter $300 per wedding, so if we’re shooting 25 weddings a years, that’s $7500 per year
General liability insurance (many venues require this for outside vendors, but ALL self-employed wedding vendors should have general liability insurance. If drunk uncle bob trips over one of my light stands and breaks his arm, I want to be covered in case he sues me). This is about $400 a year.
Music licensing subscription ($50/month = $600/year)
Other subscriptions (website hosting, vimeo, quickbooks, CRM, canva, lightroom/photoshop, sound effect libraries, the list goes on and on and on) are about $70/month, or $840 a year. Anyone else remember when you could just pay ONCE for software? Ahhhh, those were the days.
File storage on external hard drives - I will ALWAYS save footage on 2 separate hard drives, one of which is a backup drive that is stored in a fire-proof safe. Filming about 25 weddings a year, I’ll go through about 6 external hard drives that are 5TB/$120 a piece, so $720 a year in file storage
Continuing education seminars and networking events ($1000-$3000 per year). Believe it or not, these are wicked important, and nearly half of our bookings come from other vendor referrals.
LLC state registration once a year - $240 a year
Cost #3: Personal Overhead (what most people call employee benefits)
This is actually a BIG one for us. Yes, being our own bosses gives us the flexibility of taking time off when we want, creating our own schedules, and waking up past 10am if we want to, BUT, one of the biggest disadvantages of being self-employed is paying full price for “benefits” like health insurance and saving for retirement.
health insurance ($600/month for both Jon and I, UGH). And that’s the cost before any deductibles or co-pays we have to pay should we need to go to the hospital (American healthcare is the worst, am I right?!) $600/month = $7200 a year…OUCH.
Savings/401k, we TRY to save a couple hundred bucks a month to save our future or something. I don’t know, we try to adult as best we can lol.
How do we figure out what we charge for wedding videography? Math!
Alrighty, so now that we have an understanding of ALLLLLLL the different types of expenses a professional wedding videographer faces (or anyone who is self-employed and runs a small business for that matter), hopefully you can begin to understand WHY we charge what we do! All of theses expenses are exactly WHY a wedding videography that charges $800 or $1000 to film your wedding does NOT know what they are doing. They are most likely inexperienced, running their business illegally, doing it as a hobby, or maybe they just don’t realize they are actually loosing money.
SO, how exactly do I determine our wedding videography package prices in Maine?
The first step, at least for me after filming weddings for 7 years, is determining how many weddings a year I can shoot without compromising client experience, while also giving myself enough free time for my own sanity. This is a number that constantly ebbs and flows, and takes some time to figure out if you’re just starting your business. My first real year as a wedding videography, I filmed 33 weddings, and at the time, the was great for me! I was single, I had WAY more energy, and my back wasn’t killing me yet. But my client experience was blah, and the time and care I spent on an edit wasn’t as much as I knew it could be. This year (2022), I am capping that number at 24. I’m getting married myself this year, and we just came out of a CRAZY year full of covid rescheduled weddings. In the fall alone, we shot 13 weddings, when we would normally shoot 6 or 7. So…we’ve learned many lessons, but the biggest one being…24 weddings a year is the MOST I can realistically film and edit before I start loosing space for myself. Next year, I want to pull that back even further to 20.
OK, so 24 WEDDINGS A YEAR!
FIRST, we find the YEARLY total overhead cost of each wedding:
$300 - 2nd shooter
$70 - custom thumb drive for delivering footage/films
$50 - care packages and goodies we send to our clients
$420 X 24 weddings a year = $10,080 direct overhead
NEXT, we find the total YEARLY overhead costs of running our business
$2000 - upgrading gear/repairs
$2000 - continuing education/expos/networking events
$840 - subscriptions for software
$720 - file storage
$600 - music licensing
$400 - Liability Insurance
$240 - LLC state registration
TOTAL: $6800 business overheard (and I’m almost certain there’s stuff I’m forgetting in here)
THEN, we’ll add up our yearly “personal” overhead costs that we’ll call “benefits.” Note that this does NOT include personal "expenses" such as rent, utilities, and life stuff. And in our scenario, we do not have a separate office expense since we work out of our home.
$7200 - health insurance
$7200 - savings/ 401k (for the sake of admitting we’re not the best at planning for our future, I’ll just match the cost of health insurance and assume we should be saving at LEAST this amount each year.)
TOTAL: $14,400 personal overhead (employee benefits)
Alrighty, so now let’s add those overhead costs up to figure out how much yearly business overhead we have!
$10,080 - Direct overhead for weddings
$6,800 - Business overhead
$14,400 - “benefits” (health insurance/retirement savings)
TOTAL = $31,280 in yearly overhead
WHEW, ok, so if we’re filming 24 weddings a year and charging $1,000 per wedding, not only are we in the hole, but we’re like….being buried in the hole!
The next calculation we’re going to make is, let’s be honest…a little vague, but important none-the-less. This is where my experience vs. creativity chart comes in...
Based on where I believe I land on this graph, I’m going to charge more or less than the industry standard for my services. And based on my market research, winning multiple international awards, receiving lots of 5-star reviews online, and knowing that my films are elevating the wedding film industry….I’m going to charge more than the industry average. For the sake of full transparency, my goal is to earn 6 figures after business expenses - $100,000 a year.
We’re gonna crunch the numbers, add in those annoying taxes and credit card fees, and figure out where my packages need to START in order to reach my goals. For this whole thing to be relatable to MOST people, we are not including PERSONAL EXPENSES in this calculation, because anyone who takes home a salary isn’t saying “Oh, I grossed $100,000 this year but I only netted $60,000 after personal expenses.”
So, if our goal is take home a salary of $100,000 per year, and our business overhead expenses are $31,280 per year, that means we need to net $131,280 per year. BUT WAIT! We forgot about taxes and those annoying fees when our clients pay with a credit card!
Since we’re not paying self-employment tax on money that never gets to our own bank account, we’re going to figure out 3% of $131,280 (credit card fees), and then also figure out 15.3% of $131,280 (federal self-employment income tax), and add it all together.
3% of $131,280 = $3,938 (rounded)
15.3% of $131,280 = $20,086 (rounded)
YEP, that’s REALLY how much of our income goes towards taxes!
$131,280 (our goal salary + business expenses)
+ $3,938 (credit card fees per year)
$20,086 (federal self-employed income tax)
That’s the number, friends. That’s how much money I need to earn in order to take home my goal salary of $100,000 per year. (And this number is NOT including state income tax which varies by state).
Our LAST step in determining our package prices is to divide our total goal income by how many weddings a year we’re able/willing/want to shoot. Again, for me, that’s currently 24. So…
$155,304 / 24 = $6,471
AND THAT’S THE NUMBER!!!!
WHEW, we made it! Does your brain hurt? GOOD. Mine does too, and maybe you’re surprised to learn (as am I) that I’m not quite charging what I want to! Currently, my wedding videography prices in Maine start at $5200 and go up to about $7500 depending on what kind of upgrades a couple wants. Looking at these numbers, it’s easy for me to make decisions in my business like cutting back on expenses, booking 1 or 2 more weddings, reaching out to commercial clients for additional work, or promoting our package add-ons and upgrades.
My big takeaway for couples:
I know weddings can feel like a scam (trust me, I’m getting married too this year and no one’s extending me any discounts either), but I PROMISE you…when it comes to wedding videography and photography, we’re not trying to bankrupt you for our own self gratification - we are trying to make a living for ourselves. Our household doesn’t drive fancy cars, we still rent our home because we can’t afford a home of our own in today’s market, and we very much live a humble life within our means. Owning and operating a business is EXPENSIVE, even when what you’re selling isn’t a physical, tangible item (imagine the overhead costs of being a florist, YIKES!). All of this is to say, if you’re finding wedding videographers who are charging $1,000, even $2000, to shoot your wedding…it’s a red flag. Buyer beware! That videographer is either inexperienced in owning/operating a business, is doing this as a hobby, or has a sugar daddy paying for everything in their life. Your investment in an experienced, creative wedding videographer is exactly that…an investment - an investment in your memories, and an investment in the security of knowing you’ll have those memories captured with care and quality. Not only that, but it’s an investment in a small, local business, and who doesn't love supporting small businesses?!
My big takeaway for other wedding videographers:
KNOW YOUR VALUE! Do the math, figure out the numbers, be honest with yourself on where you land in the experience/creativity graph, and charge accordingly. For so so long, wedding videography has completely been undervalued and undercharged, falling behind photography in pricing…which makes NO FREAKING SENSE based on how much work, time, and equipment is involved! The perceived value of wedding videography is steadily increasing, and so should your package prices. You know as well as I do, there are countless weeks we are putting 60-80+ hours into our craft, and with the amount of time, energy, and resources we spend on building a business and creating an amazing client experience, we deserve a paycheck that allows us to live our life. This isn’t to say you can jump right in to filming weddings and charge $10k a wedding (unless you're like, REALLY really really good at sales), but if you have the experience and creativity to justify a higher price point, then don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth!