Sizing up the Competition
Understanding your competition's prices will not only help you understand your market but will help you decide what extras are expected in area. As an example, in my city, wedding photographers are expected to provide full res digital negatives with their premium packages or have them available for an extra fee. When checking out the competition there are three things to take into account: product (what exactly is being offered), skill (how do you stack up?) and price point (your area's market).
Most of this is covered in the previous section but understanding what is being offered in your area and what is expected of you is very important.
Understanding your skill level, and coupling that with how much experience you have, is the first part of your price-list equation. You will then want to check out a bunch of local wedding photographers and find out what they charge versus their skill level. This will help you understand where you will fit in as a new wedding photographer in your region.
Now that you understand what products will attract clientele and you have a good understand of what your competition is charging, it is time to think about what kind of weddings you want to shoot, the extravagant, expensive wedding or the low budget backyard wedding. Each have their own pros and cons. The extravagant wedding will pay more, no doubt about it, but you will most likely be shooting from 8 am until the very last minutes of the reception and expected to provide over a thousand photos of above average quality. If you are one hundred percent confident that you can provide that and you have a portfolio to back it up, then you may want to consider charging a premium for your services. In the beginning most photographers can't provide premium services and will take what jobs they can get to make ends meet. Just remember that just because you may be forced to photograph a backyard wedding for a few hundred dollars does not mean that this is the market you should shoot for, unless this is the market you want to shoot. Your price-point should reflect what you can offer to your market and it should change from year to year as your portfolio grows and as you become a better wedding photographer.