I’m not entirely sure why, but this is a topic that causes confusion, controversy, and often a hint of procrastination. This is especially so if you’re only starting out in the wedding video business.
Don’t fear, I’ll share with you some thoughts I’ve had regarding pricing models for event videography. If you’re wondering how much you should charge as a wedding videographer, this article is for you.
How much to charge for wedding videography? Your fee should fairly reflect the value that clients will receive from entrusting you to film their wedding. This often equates to your experience, technical expertise, and level of creativity. Ideally, you should avoid a mismatch between these factors.
How Much To Charge For Wedding Videography?
I’ve been in the wedding videography industry for over a decade. Within that time, not only have I moved with the times in terms of re-inventing my style and branding every few years, but I’ve also tried and tested many different pricing models.
I’ve charged low amounts, high amounts, and everything in between. Read on, because I have some interesting insights to share on this entire topic of wedding videography pricing.
What should you charge for your first wedding video?
For your very first wedding film, I’ll cut right to chase here to say, there is no right answer to this question.
First, let’s consider, should you charge for it, or do it for free? I believe the right choice for you will depend on your circumstances at the time.
Seriously, what should I charge to video a wedding?
I didn’t charge for my very first wedding video. I did it for free. There I’ve said it. Do I regret this? No, not really. It was for my cousin, I did it as a gift. I wasn’t a professional videographer at that time, but I had been looking into that possibility.
In the months previous, I had built up a little bit of experience filming and editing a few local parties. The stakes were low and I learned a ton.
The key phrase there is that the stakes were low. In other words, the couple in my first wedding video did not have any expectations set for me. They didn’t have anything to lose, and neither did I.
It all worked out very well.
Manage the couple’s expectations
Experience has shown me that the couple’s expectations for how good a service is, usually equates to price.
So, imagine the scenario. If I had told my first couple that I was going to charge $3,000 to film their wedding, they probably would have expected my video to be of a similar quality to local videographers who charge the same amount.
Would they have been disappointed? I’m under no illusions here, yes, they would have been. I would have been in the bad books for sure!
Don’t get me wrong, they did receive a nice memento of their wedding day. However, it was basic.
The audio quality wasn’t great and the low light performance of the camcorder I used (it was 2004) struggled in the low-light conditions of the reception. However, the couple was happy with their free wedding video and I was able to create a highlights video from it that actually brought in real paying clients within only a few short months.
If you are a beginner who is serious about starting a wedding video business, then pricing should not be your main focus right now.
At this point in time, you should be thinking about building your wedding film portfolio and developing your training. Right now, these are the most important factors. Pricing and charging what you’re worth will come later.
Focus on your wedding film portfolio
When we first start out, we don’t have any work to show and we can’t get any paid work without work to show. It’s a catch 22 situation.
So what can we do? As mentioned above, filming your first wedding for free, for the right clients, can be a great way to make a start on your wedding film portfolio. It’s actually how most videographers I know made their start in the business.
Others have charged a small nominal amount of say $500 to cover essential expenses. Expectations will be low. At that price level, the couple will not be expecting a $15,000 wedding film from one of the leading wedding cinematographers in the country.
When I filmed my first paid wedding video, i.e. my second actual wedding video, I had a better camera, professional audio equipment, and an improved quality highlights reel. This demo wedding video brought in more short-term work and, before I knew it, I had 10 bookings under my belt.
Thankfully, the bookings haven’t stopped since.
Focus on your wedding videography training
Apart from building your portfolio, your focus should also be on training and development. Even though I’ve been working as a professional videographer for over a decade, I’m still learning to this very day. Technology and techniques are constantly evolving. It can be challenging to keep up!
But keep up you must. If you want to stay on top of your game that is. There are many excellent wedding film training workshops regularly happening all over the country. Also, YouTube has many videos with leading wedding filmmakers sharing their knowledge.
Learning and upskilling is a core element of a successful wedding videographer.
What type of videographer do you aspire to be?
After you’ve filmed your first few weddings, it’s time to figure out a gameplan for how much to charge for your first season. You don’t need to arrive at a figure just yet. Firstly, I think it’s important to have an idea of what wedding videography pricing model you prefer.
Off the top of my head, here are some popular pricing models for this industry:
- high volume, low price
- low volume, high price
- somewhere in between
Then there’s also:
- a lá carte wedding video pricing
- wedding video package only pricing
- packages / collections plus optional extras from an a lá carte selection
Finally, there is also a choice between implementing a
- fixed pricing (same pricing regardless of season or location), or
- variable pricing (multiple rates that cover a range of locations, time of year, or other factors).
I could write an entire blog post on each of the options above! However, for now, just be aware that there is so much choice when it comes to figuring out how much to charge as a wedding videographer.
In terms of deciding what type of videographer you aspire to be, you probably already have an idea of whether you would like to target the lower, middle, or higher-end markets. Each market has its own unique attributes. There’s probably a fourth market in there, I like to call it high middle.
That’s actually where I like to position my business as it strikes a nice balance between getting very well paid and not having the stress associated with filming ultra-high-end weddings.
Your location may be a factor
Videographers within different local markets tend to charge very different amounts depending on location. This comes down to market forces. For example, you’re likely to see higher prices for wedding videographers in New York when compared to say, Idaho.
I’ve nothing against either location, it’s just the nature of market forces.
What do your competitors charge?
This really shouldn’t be a factor, but so many videographers base their pricing on what their competitors charge. In my opinion, this is the wrong approach. If all of your competitors are charging a low amount, simply copying their policy will ensure that your business never reaches its full potential.
Avoid doing sneaky price checks on your competitors by pretending to be getting married. It’s not cool and you wouldn’t like it if this was done to you.
Other Factors That May Influence Pricing
It’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of figuring out how much to charge for a wedding video.
Assuming you’re past “shooting for experience”, and you actually want to start making a profit, you’ll need to know your numbers. This is so important. You’ll need to figure out how much your costs are. You’ll then need to determine how much you would like left over as profit.
Music licensing for wedding videos is an example of a cost that you should absolutely take into account.
Depending on where you live, you may need to charge sales tax. These are some of the things you need to consider when deciding how much to charge.
I’ve already covered a lot about the costs associated with running a wedding videography business in my post called “why do wedding videographers cost so much?”
Side hustle or full-time?
Everyone’s personal circumstances are different. If you’re full-time filming weddings, you’re likely to need to charge more if you want to stay profitable. If you’re doing wedding video as a side hustle, your overheads may not be as high.
These are just generalizations by the way. Here’s a little bit more about what you can expect to earn as a full-time wedding videographer. If you’re not sure when is the best time to become a full-time wedding videographer, we’ve got you covered too.
Wrapping Up On How Much To Charge For A Wedding Video
I think you should definitely charge an amount that is enough to cover your costs and a little bit of profit to re-invest in training or equipment. Experience has shown that many clients simply don’t attach value to free work. Charge what you feel you are worth!
On a slightly random note, if you need a little help or inspiration, you might find our post about creating a tagline or slogan for your wedding business useful.