Hiring a wedding photographer can easily set you back a few thousand dollars, but in this increasingly digital age, it’s de rigeur that each and every detail of the wedding be documented for the bride and groom to remember forever. But, what if you don’t have a few thousand extra dollars in your budget? What if your whole wedding budget actually is a few thousand dollars? Fear not, here are some excellent wedding photographer alternatives that won’t break the bank.
A disclaimer: If you can afford a photographer, I’d certainly recommend it. For those of you spending a good deal on the big day, you’ll want to be sure that someone captures all of those little details you worked so hard to coordinate. However, a photographer really isn’t in everyone’s budget, and having pictures taken by your friends are certainly better than having no pictures at all.
So, before all of you lovely and skilled photographers and wedding planners bristle at this article, just remember: some budgets are only a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars for the whole event, and these brides deserve photos, too!
Hire a Photographer Just for the Ceremony
Okay, so this is less of a wedding photographer alternative, and more of a budget-friendly way to hire a photographer. Talk to the photographer about how your budget is a huge concern, and mention that you’d like professional photos of the ceremony (and perhaps the family/bridal party photos). Most photographers are more than willing to accommodate to your needs, and will be happy to oblige.
Entrust a Guest or Family Member
Everyone has that really artistically inclined aunt, or cousin, or best friend from high school. If you know that one of your guests is pretty good with a camera, this might be a good option for you during the ceremony. Ask your guest to take some shots of the ceremony, and perhaps a few family photos. Then, delegate the rest of the shots to the crowd.
Be sure to mention to your relative or friend that you aren’t looking for professional quality, and are appreciate for anything they can do. As silly as it sounds, younger cousins are great for this, as those kids were born with a camera phone in hand.
Disposable Cameras for the Reception
This is an oldie, but a goodie. Place disposable cameras around on your tables with instructions – either in the wedding program, or on each table – for the guests to go nuts taking pictures. True, you’ll likely find some blurry shots, and a stray inappropriate shot, but you’ll also have a whole lot of gems to sort through.
Spice things up by using instant cameras and having a board where guests can post pictures throughout the night (either a corkboard, or a magnetized white board). You could also set up a “wedding photo scavenger hunt,” where you post a list of photos you’d like, and then challenge your guests to get them all. This way you can be sure to have a few options for cake cutting shots, the first dance and any other moments you’d like to remember.
Social Media Wedding Albums (Hashtag time!)
Odds are, there will be a sea of smartphones at your wedding. Capitalize on this by asking your guests to take photos during the ceremony and reception, and then share them with you on social media. Pick a hashtag to use to keep the photos organized, and then you’ll be able to sort through and choose the best ones to download at your leisure.
Post the hashtag in as many places as possible (including on the wedding site, and in programs), so all of your guests are sure to remember to use it. One of my friends hired a photographer for her wedding, but found that she actually liked the crowd-sourced images much better!