One of the things I see couples getting married doing lots these days is asking their friend who has a camera to photograph their wedding, or being offered by a friend who has a camera to do it as a gift to the couple. First off I appreciate that weddings are inherently expensive, with lots (but not all) companies charging more for their services just because it's a wedding. The amount soon builds up and for most it can be a struggle to keep to budget without cutting some corners or missing some parts out of the plan altogether.
Things like photography often take the hit first as something where money can be saved. Wedding photographers range hugely in price from free of charge to many thousands if you look around. What I want to do is give a frank comparison between someone who is charging a reasonable amount for their services and a friend who may offer to do it for free, or very little money at all. I know that 'reasonable' is of course very subjective and everyone will have their own interpretation of this, usually based loosely on your overall wedding budget and on the importance that you place specifically in photography.
It's worth realising what goes into the prices that photographers may charge, and to let you know that at the end of the day not very much going to the person themselves it you look at it as an hourly wage. Someone who is a photographer by profession will inevitably not have any other jobs and rely on photography solely for their income. This income has to pay for rent or a mortgage, bills, food, a potential family and all the expenses that come with anyone living in the modern world. Their equipment may cost several thousands of pounds to enable them to give you the best possible photographs you can hope for, and this will have to be paid back over many years, or a load paid for. Continued training, editing software, travel expenses, insurance, prints and albums, usb sticks, really anything that you receive as a client will come out of the price you have paid. If you take out these costs and divide what's left by the time spent by the photographer not only attending your wedding, but sorting and editing all those hundreds of photographs, they are scarcely earning more than the living wage.
Suddenly what you may be paying doesn't seem so bad. They are just trying to make a living the same as you are, and inevitably the quality should overshadow the cost for someone reasonable priced.
A friend may offer to do it for free with their camera and many couples don't realise the connotations of this and are all too happy to accept. If they are a hobbyist photographer it can be a great thing for them to do and maybe open their eyes to something new. However it may still be worth getting them to take some photos of the two of you before the wedding to see what they can do. On the day it will be too late to change your mind. Free is only a bargain if you get a good result at the end. If you don't you may be left missing memories of the best day of your lives.
Always try and consider someone who does it for a job, as the focus, experience and equipment will make a huge difference. I am not encouraging you to spend a fortune, but it's important to find someone within your budget who meets your expectations and is a good match for you as a couple. You won't regret it!
Informative posts about weddings and related things, as well as general photography stuff.