6 Reasons Why You Should Attract High End Clients as a Wedding Photographer

If you’ve been in the wedding industry as a photographer for the last few years, you may feel like new photographers are breaking onto the scene every single day. 

And you can’t fault them – you were new once, too! 

But…maybe it’s starting to feel a little crowded. 

You’re not crazy. At the start of 2023, there were 413,597 wedding services industry businesses registered in the U.S. alone. 

With so many wedding businesses already established, and hundreds more adding themselves to the pot every year, how are you supposed to break free from the pack so you can stand out to your favorite kind of client to work with? 

That’s exactly what we’re discussing in this article which is all about why you should focus on attracting high end clients for your wedding photography business. Plus we’re sharing our top 3 ways to get started! 

What Are High End Clients? 

High-end clientele (or maybe you’ve heard the phrase “luxury wedding clients”) are couples that have a quality standard that’s important to them when it comes to the services they invest in.

These clients want to create an experience for themselves and their guests. They typically aren’t looking for the “DIY-feel” of a wedding. And while every couple and client may have a different aesthetic they’re looking for – some may want an opulent wedding while others may want a fashion-forward one – there’s always one thing in common: they’re striving to meet exceptionality.

Why should you pivot your wedding photography brand to attract high end clients? 

So where do you fit in in all of this? 

Well, like we mentioned earlier – the wedding industry is bigger than ever with the number of businesses topping 400,000. More and more businesses are entering the industry, too.

That leaves a lot of newer businesses who are just finding their feet picking up the lower end clients and lower budget clients alongside you.

Think of it like a pyramid. 

At the lowest part, you have lower budget couples. You also have the majority of newer wedding photographers and even many well-established photographers who haven’t leaped into the “luxury wedding market” yet. 

The further up the triangle you go, the fewer above average and high end clients. But you also have less competition when it comes to the market of service providers out there.

That means you don’t have to peddle your wares, so to speak! 

Let’s tap into the mindset of luxe clients

A couple planning a high end, upscale wedding has much different priorities than a couple that has a smaller, stricter one. 

Just like a person wanting to purchase a Ferrari has different priorities than someone looking at buying a Toyota. 

Let’s take that example for a second: 

The person buying a Toyota is more than likely looking for a couple of things (and possibly within this order) – 

  • Budget
  • Reliability
  • Function
  • Style
  • Public image

They’re biggest priority is budget. They’re working with a strict number.  Way at the bottom of the list, they’re looking at style and public image. They don’t really care what kind of perception they give off to the public – they just need something that works within a specific price range. 

But that means that if a Toyota isn’t within their budget, they’ll happily look toward a Honda or Hyundai to stay within that range. And they’ll still get a pretty reliable car that’s functionable. 

Now, let’s look at the person purchasing the Ferrari. Their priorities may look like:

  • Style
  • Public image
  • Function
  • Reliability
  • Budget

They’re biggest priority lies in having an incredible car that’s built a brand based on status and reputation. Budget lies fourth or fifth on the list.

The same goes with luxe wedding clients versus non-luxe or low-budget weddings. The luxe wedding client is looking for the photographer who can create the experience. They’re looking for the one who can act as a status symbol.

So, think of your brand in that regard as you’re pivoting into higher end weddings! Position yourself as the Ferrari, not the Toyota.

Bride and groom stand for Apulian fireworks in Italy

The Challenges of Working with Lower Budget Couples

We know it can feel intimidating and overwhelming to try and pivot your wedding photography business into a new or different niche. That includes positioning yourself to take on these coveted high end clients! 

But like all things in life, there are two types of difficult:

Choosing to learn how to pivot from working primarily with lower budget couples to working with high end clientele is difficult. 

And choosing to stay where you are with lower budget couples is difficult. 

So you have to pick your difficult! 

Let us put it to you this way, though. We totally believe that everyone has to start from the beginning when they first break into the wedding photography market. That involves taking the lower budget, bottom-of-the-barrel couples who would rather DIY everything or who need to nickel and dime their vendors to stay within budget. 

Vic and I had to do it, too, when we first started photographing weddings in San Francisco! 

Usually, this is also the time when newer wedding photographers are learning more about the industry. They’re figuring out the flow of a wedding day, either by working as a second shooter or as the primary photographer for the first time. They are developing their signature style. They’re learning how to get consistent in their work. 

So, working with lower budget clients is the perfect place to be! 

But if you’ve been in the industry for 3+ years… 

If you’ve already nailed your wedding day flow…

If you’ve already worked with a wedding photography mentor…

And especially if you’ve established your signature style…

Then there are definitely more challenges of working with lower budget couples than there are challenges in pivoting your brand to take on high end clientele.

Low budgets take the brunt of the challenges

Budgets are necessary for wedding couples. But the lower the budget, the more difficult it is to establish yourself and build a sustainable wedding photography brand. 

These low budgets mean that you have to keep your prices within a certain range. And that can be difficult if you’re trying to grow and scale your brand, especially if you’re in an area that’s highly saturated with other photographers at the same level as you. 

Eventually, you may feel like you’re limited in what you can do for your clients artistically — because you have to be a business owner first. And that can leave you feeling deprived as an artist at heart. 

Champagne taste on a “house wine” budget

There is a common saying that goes, “champagne taste on a house wine budget.” 

Unfortunately, it’s often true. Many couples that have lower budgets have champagne taste – they want the world. But these are often unrealistic expectations. 

For you to build a sustainable business, you have to be able to charge accordingly. Yet, the type of packages and services that many mainstream couples want aren’t within that budget. 

That doesn’t keep many of them from trying to push you into doing something you ultimately can’t or don’t want to do. And when they realize that you can’t or won’t meet the unrealistic expectations they’ve created in their heads, they’ll feel unsatisfied with their investment in you. That can lead to a negative reputation or some conflict between you and the couple. 

In the end, it’s only going to lead to you feeling burned out. You won’t want to keep working for couples who don’t appreciate all of the hard work you put into their wedding day! And you definitely won’t want to keep going if you’re not getting paid enough. 

Unless you’re able to keep everything in perspective and set those expectations with personalities that don’t try to walk all over you, then that feeling of burnout will often lead to a lack of growth in your business as a whole.

The hustle culture is alive and well among lower budget weddings

At the bottom of that triangle, there are many couples and many wedding photographers. So those couples have plenty of options to choose from. 

If you don’t want to budge on what you can offer within their budget, they have no problem finding another photographer who will. 

To them, it has nothing to do with your expertise and experience. It has nothing to do with how incredible your art is. 

To them, it has everything to do with price, instead of your brand experience and reputation. 

That portion of the pyramid is all price-based competition which can make those other challenges we already discussed even worse. And that’s exactly why we want to help you break out of the bottom of the pyramid! 

The Benefits of Working with High End Clients as a Wedding Photographer

Like we mentioned above, it can feel overwhelming or intimidating trying to pivot into the high end clientele wedding photography niche. How are you supposed to find couples who have what seem like these astronomical budgets, especially if you know you couldn’t spend that on a wedding yourself? 

Trust us – there is a market out there that can do so. 

But we know that’s a challenge (and one that we help you overcome in our Ticket to Destination Wedding Photography course!). 

So let’s focus on the benefits of working with high end clientele within your wedding photography brand so you can see why tackling that overwhelm is worth it! 

Champagne taste on a Dom Perignon budget

When it comes to high end clients, the majority of them have champagne taste – that’s true. 

But they also have the Dom Perignon budget to back it up. So their expectations are much more realistic when it comes to what they want and what they can afford. 

That gives you the chance to be more creative in how you offer your collections and even how you photograph your couples’ days. Because you’re not racing the clock to make sure that you make enough per hour to make your photography business worth it. 

And in the end, that means that you can grow and scale a more sustainable business because you’re not working yourself to the bone just to make ends meet.

High end clients for wedding walk out of Park Hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland

Quality is the end all, be all

Just like we were saying when we first explained what a high end client really means, it’s less about having a “luxury wedding” because that’s incredibly subjective. 

More than anything it means they value quality above all else. They want to create something extravagant for themselves and their guests to enjoy and relish in. 

So they understand they’re not investing in someone who’s “just taking pictures.” They view you as someone who is capturing these moments so they never forget them. They understand the value of what you do! 

And because of that, they want someone who can produce quality work. They want someone who will contribute to the overall amazing experience they’re providing their guests. And they want someone who can use their artistic, creative vision to make them look and feel amazing during a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

That gives you more room to be creative! You get to focus more on building a gorgeous portfolio, instead of trying to keep costs to a minimum so you’re not losing out on money as a business while still competing in a price-based competition ring. Because these kinds of clients want the best when it comes to their preferred style – not whoever’s the most inexpensive. 

It also gives you more freedom and room to customize and tailor your wedding photo packages according to the couple. For example, maybe a couple is hosting an extravagant 3-day celebration in Mykonos complete with a grand welcome party and an exclusive beach club party, in addition to the wedding itself. And you are the artist they want to capture it all!

Man and woman stand together for bridal portraits after getting married at Amangiri, Utah

When it comes to attitudes, they may not be what you think

We know – it may seem like the couples who have larger budgets and are hosting higher end, upscale weddings are the ones who are going to feel pretentious or snobby. 

But, in our almost ten years of experience, we’ve found the opposite to be true. 

Sure, no matter what type of client you work with, someone is bound to be not the greatest fit. Or maybe someone’s aunt or uncle just has a certain air about them that you don’t vibe with. 

But in the grand scheme of things, our higher end clientele are more likely to be hands-off and put their full trust in you to do what you do best – so they can focus on enjoying and being present in this once in a lifetime moment. 

Ultimately, those high end clients who want to pay for your luxury wedding photography services, who have the more laid-back attitudes, and who just want a high quality, professional experience are going to leave you feeling more fulfilled in your business.

How to Attract High End Clients for Your Luxury Wedding Photography Business

It sounds fantastic to work with these incredible high end clients for your wedding photography business, right?! Now, we have to overcome the challenge of pivoting your brand. 

So how do you do that, exactly? 

We’re sharing our top 3 tips to help you:

Make sure you’re positioning your brand appropriately 

When it comes to booking the right type of client, you attract what you put out into the world. Your ideal client wants to know you are capable of capturing photos in a way that resonates with them! 

So, if your ideal high end client is dreaming of a garden wedding filled with fresh floral arrangements, gold place settings, and hand-stationed invitation suites, then posting photos of your latest rustic barn wedding with DIY decor pieces only leaves them feeling like you can’t deliver what they’re wanting. 

It’s all about putting yourself out there in a way that has your ideal high end clientele saying “yes! That’s what I’m looking for.” 
If you haven’t yet taken on any high end wedding couples (so you don’t have content that will attract those high end clients), then we highly suggest checking out our favorite way of attracting those kinds of clients!

Luxury wedding tablescape for high end clients in Lake Como, Italy

Create a luxury experience for those clients

Just like we’ve said already, when it comes to these high end wedding clients, their main priority is quality and experience over price. 

Sure, they’ll have a budget, just like the majority of couples getting married. But they’re not price shopping to only find the photographer who’s the most inexpensive. 

So to speak to these kinds of clients, make sure you create an entire experience that meets that exceptional standard they’ve set. 

That might look like:

  • Having a streamlined client onboarding experience, which includes super fast response times instead of making them wait days (or even a week!) to hear back from you
  • Doubling down on your editing process so that you have a faster turnaround time
  • Going above and beyond in the months leading up to their wedding to help them plan. For example, at Lilly Red, we often help our clients that are getting married in Italy by offering suggestions for restaurants, hotels, cafes, nightlife, and other things to do so they can have an entire experience.
  • Creating a luxury package that includes additional touches like hours the day before or after the wedding for additional celebrations, heirloom albums, or a framed print. 
High end clients for London elopement kiss

Build connections within high end or luxury communities

Word-of-mouth referrals are still one of the greatest forms of marketing. So once you start taking on high end wedding clients and you deliver a luxury experience, then they can refer you to their friends and family. 

But getting started is still the issue. So to get your foot in the door, one of the best things you can do is network within luxury wedding communities. 

They’re all over Facebook already. And most wedding businesses have an Instagram account that you can connect over! 

The key here is to do a few things: 

  • Don’t reach out to anyone and everyone hoping for a hand out. Instead, follow and connect with businesses that you would genuinely enjoy working with. Is there a wedding planner or a florist who has a style that would work well with yours and your ideal high end client? Connect with those businesses.
  • Build true relationships. How awkward is it to reach out to someone and say, “Hey would you mind sending referrals my way?” (Answer = really awkward.) You need to know that you trust this business owner to send high end clientele that you would love to work with. And they need to trust that you’ll take care of whoever they send your way. The best way to do both of those things is to cultivate true relationships! Be prepared for that to take weeks or even months. And then even longer for them to need to send someone to you! But in the long run, it’s well worth it.

Don’t feel like you have to wait for an opportunity to land in your lap.

Create one! If you do build a relationship with another vendor and would love to work with them, then don’t just wait for them to send you a wedding. Create one together (à la – styled shoots!). That’ll go hand in hand with positioning your brand appropriately, too.

We understand what it’s like to have to almost reinvent your brand to book these high end, luxury wedding clients. Vic and I went through that same process, too!

And we realized how desperately we wanted a mentor to guide us through how to do it so we could avoid making mistakes or wasting time (which also meant wasting money). 

That’s exactly why we created Ticket to Destination Wedding Photography. In it, we give you each step to take to help you break away from the bottom-of-the-barrel clients and start booking the ones who value what you do! 

We’ll walk you through: 

  • Figuring out who your ideal high end client is
  • How to put together a styled shoot so that you can start attracting those dream clients
  • And a marketing plan so you’re positioning yourself as the most irresistible wedding photographer for them 

(Plus so much more!)