You are considering getting married in Las Vegas and that is AWESOME. Las Vegas is the wedding capital of the world and we have an amazing array of wedding venues to choose from. Like a cute little chapel wedding at the Little White Chapel or a snazzy upscale wedding at the Las Vegas Country Club. However, I have some bad news for all the couples reading this that are thinking of having their wedding in Las Vegas. As a Las Vegas Wedding Photographer I have come across one recurring issue that my wonderful brides who are planning their wedding run into: A lot of Las Vegas Wedding Venues (Mainly the hotels, casinos, and smaller chapels) do NOT allow you to bring in your own photographer or there are a LOT of hidden fees.
I’m going to preface this blog post with a few things. First, if you are looking for a cheap wedding that you don’t have to plan anything and you just show up to get married and you’re OK with receiving one to two photographs of your wedding day… this article is not meant for you.
Second, I have nothing against drive through Vegas weddings. I don’t. In my line of work I have helped countless couples try to recreate their wedding day because they didn’t know about photographer policies at many Las Vegas wedding venues and ended up in tears when they received their photos (or didn’t receive). And for everyone who’s in the planning stages of their wedding .. congratulations! I hope this is helpful in some way.
It is my opinion, and I know many people share this viewpoint, that photography is one of the most important investments you’ll make in your wedding. And also, you get what you pay for. And it’s never really as cheap as they make it seem. If you book a wedding in Vegas and your venue photographer is from $0-$500 you should be very cautious and this article is definitely for you. Considering that photography and videography are two of the only things that will last even beyond your lifetime, this is an important point to consider if you want those memories to be documented beautifully by someone you picked yourself and trust. I’ll tell you what to avoid, what to look for, and how you can have the wedding of your dreams in Vegas. Let me elaborate because this is a multi-pronged issue and there’s a lot of history behind it too.
Las Vegas was once known for quick and cheap weddings. A drive through wedding, a little chapel wedding after a night on the town… you get the idea. This connotation is changing and the idea of a Las Vegas wedding does not always imply cheap or quick anymore. I photograph a significant amount of classy and upscale weddings and elopements in Las Vegas at a wide variety of venues. Good venues DO exist in Las Vegas, you just have to know where to look, and the right questions to ask.
With Vegas’ history in cookie cutter weddings it used to be extremely popular to just book a one-stop-shop wedding where everything was included for a low price. The problem with this business model is that it allows no room for customization. This one-sized-fits-all wedding is declining in popularity because Millennials and Gen Z couples want something that feels like them.
As I mentioned earlier in this article is that many of the venues have a few packages to choose from. Some include photo. Sounds good right? Generally … no. The venues that have everything all included for super cheap (Anything less than $1,000-$1,500 for a whole wedding I’d consider to fall into this category) has strings attached. The main one being their photographers policy.
Limited or No Images:
Yes, you might have a photographer there shooting away and you think you’re all good. And then you’re excited to check your email inbox after the wedding to see all your photos. Instead, you have a bunch of watermarked low-resolution photos you can’t download that have prices attached. It is a very common policy for the venue photographer to make their money by selling you your images. Most of them are paid minimum wage and are expected to make their money by selling you your wedding pictures. So that extra $250 you splurged on to have their venue photographer show up, it literally just got them to show up. The prices that venue photographers normally charge is $20-$50 for a single high resolution download photo without a watermark. Which means that if you wanted your whole wedding gallery it would cost you $8,000+. Since most people who do smaller chapel or casino weddings have a smaller wedding budget than $8,000 for images, you are left picking 5-10 photos that are “must-have’s”. This goes against my very philosophy of wedding photography that is meant to be a joyous occasion with photos you can reflect on for the rest of your life. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth because you feel scammed. And really, you kind of were.
It is not common for venues to warn their couples about this policy because they get a cut of all sales as well. So it’s in their best interest to have you in the dark about their photographers policy and purchasing the rights to your digital images.
If that wasn’t bad enough – many of the venues also don’t allow you to choose your own printer for the photos. They can charge anything they want and you do NOT have the right to take your digital files that you purchased to print at your local printing store. Instead, you are forced into buying them directly through them. Now, I’m not bashing this model in particular. I prefer my couples to buy their prints on my digital gallery platform because I work with local printers who focus on high quality imagery and print your photos to look the best that they can. That being said – I also grant printing rights to my couples as well. So it’s not a requirement that you buy directly through me.
Inexperienced Photographers: As I mentioned, many of the venues hire photographers and pay them minimum wage plus commission. One of the most important vendors on your wedding day is your photographer. You will be with them as the nerves are kicking in before you put on your wedding dress, as you walk down the aisle, and as you say your final goodbye toasts. It is so important you know and trust your photographer. We are there to capture the most important moments of your life. The venue photographers you get will not be someone you’ve spoken with before. You won’t even know their name until the day of your wedding. And you have no idea what their style is!! You might love bright and airy photos like mine and they don’t even really edit their photos. You have NO idea how they shoot. They have not been with you on the whole journey of planning your wedding. They didn’t answer your 2AM emails about if mauve would pair better with pantone or blush tablecloths. It is a HUGE gamble going with a venue photographer because you have no idea what you’ll get. And generally, if you look on websites of the wedding venues I mentioned you’ll see extremely inconsistent quality and sometimes it’s just downright horrible photos that aren’t even in focus. You deserve better than that. It is likely you will only get married once, and you should be able to look back on photos of your wedding day with joy.
The Signature at MGM Grand
As of the date this was written, this is as accurate as possible. This is far from a list of every wedding venue in Vegas as we have a lot. Just the ones I’m personally familiar with or my couples have told me about specifically on the Las Vegas Strip.
Harrah’s Las Vegas
The Cromwell Las Vegas
The LINQ Las Vegas
Bally’s Las Vegas
Caesars Palace Las Vegas
Little white chapel
Encore Las Vegas
Rio All-Suite Hotel + Casino
Paris Las Vegas
Planet Hollywood Resort + Casino
Chapel of the Flowers
*while they may allow it, some of them have fees ranging from $150-$750+ just to bring in your own photographer. So while they “allow” it I’d recommend avoiding them because you’d be paying fees for nothing. Unless you have your heart set on one of them and it feels worth it to you.
1: What is your outside photographer policy? Do you allow me to bring in my own photographer? If so, what is the cost associated with it?
2: Can I see a full wedding gallery of your venue photographers? Can I talk to them before the wedding?
3: Will I be able to print my own photos? Can you give me a price guide for prints?
4: Will my photographer be providing me with edited digital files? Will I receive all my high resolution edited photos from them? If not, how much is it to buy each individual photo?
If you’ve reached this far … thank you for sticking around! Now it’s not all doomsday stuff there ARE ways of having beautiful weddings in Las Vegas at venues that are flexible, accommodating, and love when you have a personalized wedding with all your favorite wedding vendors. Generally, going off the Las Vegas Strip you’ll find venues that are much more flexible and you’re able to customize your dream wedding down to the very linens on the tables.
So where SHOULD you get in married in Las Vegas? Here’s my list of recommendations that don’t charge extra to bring in your own photographer. I consider 1-25 guests as “intimate” and 25+ larger. Check out both lists and find a spot that speaks to you!
Nelson’s Ghost Town
The new way of having a Wedding in Las Vegas
My couples want a wedding that they can custom build to reflect who they are as people. So ask the questions I’ve outlined above to really dig into your wedding venues philosophy. See if they allow you to bring in outside vendors. Ask about the venue photographers past work. Will it be a specific person? Or will it be anyone they feel like bringing in to photograph your once in a lifetime day? Your wedding day MATTERS and the way you get married matters. You should be 1000% comfortable with your photographer and know that you are getting the work you paid for – no strings. I hope you enjoyed this article, and of course, get in touch about your wedding day if this article resonated with you and you love my work. I can’t wait to hear from you. Also, if you find any venues that I should add to my don’t allow photographers list etc. please comment below and I’ll update.
Get In Touch:
Follow along on Instagram: