Include Engagement Portrait Sessions In The Wedding Package – Think Again

In today’s world its easy to find out what other photographers are charging and offering in their packages. With a quick search, I found the following package deal for wedding photography:

  • Full day coverage, unlimited time, unlimited images
  • Free engagement photography session
  • Digital negatives included
  • Online galleries for ordering
  • Price $2500

This is pretty much the standard wedding package available today.

This is fine if you photograph clients in one location, and all of your clients are from that one location.

But what extras4if you want to become a destination photographer? What if someone is from New York, but will be getting married in Hawaii? What if someone is planning a wedding from Germany, is getting married in Aspen, and won’t be in the States until three days before the wedding?

Let the negotiations begin. Anytime you include a free engagement session in your package, if the bride and groom can’t use it, they’ll start negotiating. Hardly the thing you want happening with a brand new client.

And yet most photographers continue to offer this. Why?

Engagement portraits are personal to the bride and groom. In many ways its a completely separate event from the actual wedding. Many photographers will tell you this is a great way of bringing in a new client. While this may be true, in today’s traveling world, its not nearly as important as it once was.

Instead of making it a part of the package, make it an add on. Make it a reasonable cost – $125 plus expenses. You’ll photograph in your local area, or they can fly you in to their location. Their choice.

You’ve just made some of your clients very happy for a very reasonable price. And you no longer have to go through negotiations with the clients that don’t want or need an engagement session.

8 thoughts on “Include Engagement Portrait Sessions In The Wedding Package – Think Again”

  1. The Fate of Wedding Photography…Part2….

    The problems are many…. But in a nutshell, people do not value photography as an artform anymore. With the arrival of the digital cameras and the affordability of very decent cameras, most people think that they are photographers… And everybody knows a few. And yes, it is true that there is a big difference between a wedding photographer and even a commercial photographer, but the common bride does not seem to understand it. It ends up being about money, period.
    I used to command over $5,000.00 for a wedding, and cannot get $1,200.00 now! So, even if I would like to ‘stick to my guns’ and be a professional, and teach people the difference, I sincerely believe that the train has left the station…

    • Thanks for your comments, Pierre. I hear that from more and more photographers, and only time will tell. I do agree that the “old” way of photography is dead, if you don’t move into technology, you’ll never survive. Will we be able to command high prices for offering amazing photography in digital form? I think that’s a definite yes. There is a huge difference between amateur and professional – if you utilize all the tools available today. You have to be extraordinary, and give what people simply can’t do on their own. We’ll see…

  2. I’m a a few weeks too late in reading this post but for my first paid wedding (I don’t specialize in wedding photography) the package the couple chose had an engagement session in it and we did negotiate for more “save the date” & “thank you cards” instead.

    I’m glad I read this post only after my first wedding in the event that I do more down the road. I will now add the engagement session as an add-on at a more reasonable rate if they book the wedding with me versus if they just want the engagement session.

    Thanks! This was an extremely helpful post for me so I can create a more desired package.


    • Hi Audrey

      Glad to hear this helped. We discovered that early on too, as so many people just didn’t have the need or desire – and it always turned into a bargaining chip. Its easier just to eliminate that chip, and let the people that want it buy the engagement session.

      Good luck!

  3. I couldn’t agree more. I never understood including an Engagement Session, or the files or unlimited coverage. All work best as an add on. Plus, if you feel the need to ‘throw something in” for a friend/family or unhappy client, then you have leverage.

    I do disagree with Pierre’s comment that digital cameras are affordable though. It shocks me that amateurs buy such expensive cameras when not many people spent more than $300 on a great film camera in the days. Digital costs me 3-4x what film did, even when factoring in film and developing. The newer photogs will figure this out in year 3 when they need both a new camera and a new computer.

    In my market, I’m already seeing the pendulum swinging back to true professionals and true photographers. The most repeated comment I heard at a recent bridal show was “I’m looking for someone who doesn’t just take pictures, but can create them”… Hang in there. If you have talent and good business sense, you should prevail.

    • Hi Heather – I love it, I’m so glad you’re starting to hear “I’m looking for someone who doesn’t just take pictures, but can create them”. That means we’re all doing our jobs, and giving the potential customers a bit more to think about.


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