How Much Should One Budget For A Wedding Album ?


How much should one budget for a wedding album? The only price I’ve seen was $1800 and that seemed VERY high to me.

Dawna Smith Custom Photo Book & DVD Services

The $1,800 price that the photographer quoted you sounds like a mid size custom wedding photo book, probably a 9.5×13 book with a minimum of 40 pages. Not knowing the size of the book, cover choice, or how many pages and images were included, the price could actually be considered average.

Listed below is some helpful information regarding the difference between albums and books, and what to expect when producing just one book.

Wedding albums are different than wedding photo books. You place already printed photos into an album, whereas digital photo books are graphically designed using your images, then the design is printed, and sewn and bound into a personalized book.

Some albums, depending on the quality of the cover can be as high as $400 or more. Some photographers just sell you the album and give you the prints. Others take extra time and enhance the images graphically using software, then print the images and artfully arrange the prints within the album.

A personalized photo book, depending on the quality desired, can range from $50 to several thousand. What makes the difference in price is the quality of materials used in the process, and if you require graphic design or photo restoration services. If you’re on a strict budget and don’t mind having a book where the pages can be “dog eared”, similar to what you get in a book store, then there are several companies that allow you to upload low resolution images to their site using templated software. The end result is a cloth covered hard back book printed on 85 or 100 pound weight paper, similar to those children’s books where you can personalize the book with the child’s name.

Higher end custom designed wedding photo books are usually printed as double page spreads using high quality photographic lab paper (archive life 200+ years), which is flush mounted on board to help protect the prints, and then are sewn and bound into a book. The pages are about the thickness of a credit card. They are designed and sewn in such a manner that the book lies flat, similar to a magazine, without any image loss in the center of the page. These books can range from 8×12 up to 16×20 in size.

Keep in mind that these types of books usually include more graphic design elements, photo enhancements, and are crafted to last for a couple hundred years. The old adage “you get what you pay for” definitely applies to wedding photo books and good photographers.

Some individuals save money on their wedding photo books by designing the layouts themselves and submit print ready image files to the publisher. This cuts out the design cost, which can range from $200 to $600 just for the graphic design portion. If you are able to design your own book, it’s definitely one way to save some serious dollars. Check with the publisher to see if they offer this option. Keep in mind that if you want to design your own layout using a professional photographer’s images, you’ll have to either purchase the negatives from your photographer or get a signed release from your photographer allowing you to use the images in printed form. Copyright laws prohibit a publishing house from printing your book unless you can prove that you own the images or have a signed release from your photographer.

People often don’t realize what it takes to create a coffee table photo book, like the kind you see at a book store. An author can spend literally several years developing the book, including the time the images were first taken, the production process of choosing the images and writing the text, and the final product.

Next time you are at a book store, check out some of the coffee table photo books. Notice how they often have text descriptions included adjacent to the image, or perhaps they have designed the book with special graphic design elements. See how the binding is actually sewn to help hold the pages together, ensuring longevity with a quality binding. Keep in mind that the books in the store are NOT produced using photographic paper, but regular offset paper.

The author most likely spent many thousands of dollars having their book graphically designed and the text typeset, and then a separate design created for the dust jacket cover. During and after the final design and typeset, an editor had to read and check for type placement as well as ensuring that all graphic design elements had been included as agreed. The editor has to make sure that the pictures presented in the book are as good as or better than what was supplied.

After all that, the author or publishing house has to cough up the money for a minimum run of 5,000+ books and hope that book stores pick up the product for sale to individuals.

Publishers have always been able to produce just one book, but it has never been cost effective for an author. Usually the cost of the initial production is averaged out over the sale of 5,000 to 20,000 books. With the advent of digital publishing, brides can now have just one book produced of their wedding, but they must realize that the cost to do so is still pricey and cannot be averaged out over the retail sale of their wedding book…unless the bride is a famous movie star!!

Sadly, we tend to be an “instant society” where we want things done now and at the lowest possible price. It takes more than a click of a button to create a quality photo book. Having a wedding photo book produced can take from 8 to 12 weeks, depending on your design preferences. If you design your own, you are still looking at the time it takes you to design plus 4 to 6 weeks for just print and binding services.

Try to allocate an adequate portion of your wedding budget to your memories, such as your photographer, videographer, album or book. Often, brides spend more money on food and beverages than they do for their photographer or printed images.