Cost of a Wedding Photographer in Chicago



Cost of a Wedding Photographer in Chicago : Helpful Guide

Chicago wedding photographers Intercontinental Chicago Wedding Hotels downtown

The average cost of a wedding photographer in Chicago varies.

But WHY?

With the rise of social media (especially Instagram) and high quality but affordable cameras, the barrier of entry into wedding photography is very low. Images on social media of posh couples in love, laughing and celebrating against stunning wedding backdrops idealizes the glamour of being a wedding photographer.

What Is the average cost of a Chicago Wedding Photographer?

Everyone from the weekend warrior looking for a creative side hustle to the 10 year wedding photographer veteran are in direct competition with each other. It is pretty overwhelming for clients to sort out who is worth their investment. The range of wedding photography costs has been widened drastically between $1000-$10,000+.

Here is a breakdown of the types of studios you may come across in your research, the average cost, and what questions to ask in order to determine whether they are the right investment for you!

Corporate Studios and Weekend Photographers

Average Cost: less than $3,000.00

When starting your search for wedding photographers, you are going to come across many corporate wedding studios and weekend photographers (especially on Instagram).

Corporate studios hire freelance photographers as independent contractors. The liability is on the corporate studio and they will usually have staff editors to process your photos. The drawback with a corporate studio is you may not know who you will get for your wedding day. It may be a seasoned photographer or a newbie freelance photographer. My tip here is to ask to see the specific photographer’s gallery who will be shooting your wedding.

Most likely, your photographer may not know much about you as a couple. This bulk style approach to weddings may be something you prefer if you are on a tight budget or just want basic documentary style photography.

At Maha Studios, I hated turning away couples that I wasn’t able to photograph. For this reason, I do offer photo services by my associate photographers. These associate photographers have been trained and coached by me so I am confident that they will capture weddings perfectly.

As for the weekend photographer, their main focus is not weddings but their 9 to 5 job during the week. Usually, they want to earn a side income during the weekend and do not have time to invest in continuing education, upgrading gear or developing a polished brand. For that reason, their expenses are lower and they can charge less per wedding. This category of photography may be right for you if you are more cost conscious . However, make sure that the weekend (freelance) photographer has business insurance or some accountability measures in place.

Mid-Level Wedding Photographers

Average Cost: $4000- $5000 for a Full Day

Experienced full time wedding photographers are immersed in all aspects of their business. Since they are the ones wearing all the hats from marketing, sales, shooting, editing and accounting, they must account for all this time and expense into the cost of shooting a wedding.

Full time wedding photographers usually spend a lot of time honing their craft, experimenting with new techniques and building a more consistent portfolio. They are also more focused on catering to the individual needs of their clients. Experienced full time photographers usually want to meet their clients right away and they are more accessible. They are the ones who will troubleshoot any issues and advise you on your wedding timeline.

The main thing that should stand out to couples looking for a boutique wedding photographer is a large, consistent portfolio that exemplifies various shooting conditions, locations and situations. Without a doubt, they will also have business insurance, registration as a business in the state they are located, and a well-curated polished website.

Luxury Wedding Photographers

Average Cost: $10k-$20k for a Full Day

With boutique studios, luxury wedding photographers will often times go above and beyond to satisfy their clients because the scope of luxury weddings demands a highly catered and personalized experience. Luxury wedding photographers are also considered celebrity photographers because they have developed a brand and work with full service wedding planners. Examples of are Jose Villa and Greg Finck, Oliver Fly and KT Merry. The weddings they photograph are usually $500k plus weddings that require a unique set of skills, artistic talent and finesse.


Like with most services, you get what you pay for when it comes to the cost of wedding photographers in Chicago. A photographer who has spent years dedicating their time and education to the craft will naturally need to account for the time and expenses in their overall costs. Because there are a variety of styles and approaches to customer experience, we would highly recommend asking the following questions when short listing your ideal photographer.

  1. Are you a full time or freelance photographer?

  2. What is your education and experience shooting weddings and events?

  3. Can we meet to discuss your portfolio and customer process?

  4. Can we see full entire galleries of weddings similar to mine?

  5. Who will be shooting my wedding and will it be stated in the contract?

  6. Are you a registered and insured business?

  7. Can I read any client online reviews?

  8. How do you edit the photos and does it include any special services like skin retouching?

  9. What happens if the designated photographer cannot show up for my event?

  10. What is your cancellation policy?

  11. Will we get the copyrights to the edited high resolution digital images? What are the final deliverables?

I hope these article helps you while interviewing potential studios. The best thing to do is to determine an ideal photo investment with your Chicago wedding planner. Based on their expertise and experience, your event planner will also help you determine the best fit for your needs, stay within budget and save time in interviewing various vendors.  With this knowledge in hand, the cost of a wedding photographer in Chicago will work perfectly into your overall wedding budget.

Intercontinental Chicago Weddings Hotels Downtown Chicago Maha Studios

With over ten years of experience capturing sacred moments and an artful intuition for what it takes to get the perfect shot, time and time again, it’s our joy to create evocative, timeless photographs that are as one-of-a-kind as your story.

Maha Studios is a destination photography studio that delights in the vibrant traditions and rituals at the heart of South Asian and multicultural weddings.