Podcast Episodes

074 | A Simple Way to Calculate How Many Weddings You Need to Book Per Year

February 13, 2024

I’m talking about how to calculate exactly how many weddings you need to book per year.

I'm Dan!

Photographer, podcaster, extreme empath, and certified life coach. I help photographers enjoy more family and personal time while growing their business.


If money management gives you the sweats, this is the guide for you.

Download Now


How many weddings do you actually need to book? In today’s episode, I’m coaching you through my three steps for determining your schedule for the year. These steps will give you clarity about your finances and the power to say “no” to booking more work than you need.

The Focused Photographers Podcast was created based on the idea that the most incredible tool for learning is a deep dive into any given topic from multiple perspectives. Join us every other week as we explore important topics, with host Daniel Moyer and a variety of guests offering different perspectives! Make sure you’ve hit that follow or subscribe button on your favorite podcast player to get notified each week as we air new episodes!

Embed Code:


Get a pencil, paper, and your bank statement (4:17)

You need to know your margins (10:21)

Using math to set your boundaries (12:23)

Now the fun part (13:32)


Daniel Moyer Coaching



Wedding Instagram: @DANIELMOYERPHOTO



Hey there, I’m Dan Moyer and welcome to the focused photographers podcast where photographers gather. Today’s episode is going to be an impactful, very actionable one, all about giving you clarity on your finances and while really giving you clarity on your business finances and helping you set some realistic booking goals. I think the overarching goal though, for for me to share with you in this episode is for you to be able to say no to booking work when you want to write we all have boundaries we all have times when we want to be able to say no, I don’t want to book anymore. I’m all set for this year. I think getting clarity around your numbers and around how much you need to book is going to really helped boost your confidence to accept the wedding’s that you really want to accept because you know that you have your bases covered. So before we get in today’s episode, two quick announcements.

One, if you have not gone to my new website yet go to Daniel Moyer coaching.com. It’s my brand new website, it is now also the new home of the focus photographers podcast. You can also apply for one to one coaching right there. And there’s a ton more also, you can go check out and see if there’s any typos.

Lastly, a really quick ask is, if you’ve been listening for one episode two episodes, or all 73 episodes, would you go to wherever you’re listening right now and rate and review this podcast or maybe share it with somebody in your network who needs it, I would be tremendously grateful. I’m not somebody who asked for a lot of rates and reviews. But I’ve been told that I should. So here I am showing up and saying would you rate and review this podcast and I would be forever grateful for it. Okay, let’s get to the show.

Most photographers around this time of year are just in this goal setting mindset in a bunch of the one to one coaching calls I’ve had in random conversations I’ve had with photographers on Instagram, in Facebook, message groups, all that kind of stuff. Everybody’s just on this like next level goal setting and all that kind of stuff. This past week, I was having a conversation with a photographer who he’s in sort of the early stages of his business, but he’s really trying to level up. He’s trying to make more money and all that kind of stuff. And I asked him, I said, What is the goal for you like five years from now? What’s the dream? They said the dream for me is $200,000 a year gross. And I want to be able to take off the same amount of time that my wife takes off from her corporate job, which is like five weeks. I said, Okay, where did you get that $200,000 number from? And he said, I have no idea. It just sounded good. I was like, Okay, sounds good. I was having another coaching call maybe two months ago or so. And that photographer and I were talking about like, you know what the goals for this year or next year are, and she said, I’m getting bogged down by all these small shoots. I like elopements. I’d like to do this amount of weddings and things like that. And I said, Okay, well, how many weddings? Do you actually need to cover your expenses to live and all that? And she said, I’m not sure I have no idea. And this is one of the things that I realize a lot of photographers, maybe you’re like this, I know I was in the early years before I decided to figuring out how to do some math. A lot of photographers will just do what sort of the industry says they worry about the pricing or whatever, but they don’t look at their specific circumstances, and how much they need to make and then work from there. So that is what this whole episode is about. This whole episode is about some very basic math, to figure out exactly how many weddings you need per year to live and to cover all your bases. I think this is a great place to start from rather than what the industry says of Oh, make six figures or, you know, I want to take this many weddings, no, let’s start with making decisions off of numbers and facts based on your circumstances.

So I’m going to go through this, I think pretty quickly and easily. It’s pretty simple and basic math, there’s not too much crazy terminology or anything, I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible. Remember, you can follow along, you can pause, you can go back over and over again. But I think this is an exercise that is going to be really helpful. It’s one that I do once a year at least this first step I do once a year and I’ve coached a bunch of other photographers on. So it’s really three steps. And I’m going to lay them out.

This first step is to get a pencil and a paper and your bank statement. That’s it. What you need to do is figure out how much money you need to live. And you do this by figuring out your budget. Here’s the way that I like to figure out budgets. It is by grabbing a paper and pencil and is by grabbing your bank statement. There are so many apps that I can hear people saying like oh, I have an app that does that and whatever. Or there’s this app that I’ve downloaded a year ago and then never used right. The problem with apps is that there’s a learning curve to them. And you need the least amount of friction possible for this project, right? apps you can use later you can figure them out at some point but again, the least amount of friction possible and app comes with paper and pencil you already know how to use and your bank statement. So here’s where you’re going to do. When you grab your paper and pencil, you’re going to put these five categories, these five columns across the top of your paper. The first category is utilities. The next one is debts. The third one is groceries, savings. And then splurging. receive those one more time, utilities and, and necessities. The second is debts. Third, groceries, fourth is savings. And fifth is splurging.

Now, let me just give a brief overview of each one. Utilities and necessities you already know what those are. That’s things like your housing, which could be your mortgage or your rent. This is your gas, this is phone, electricity, insurance, gym membership, yes, I put your memberships in necessities and utilities. The next one for debts. I’m sure you know what this one is to it’s your car payment. It’s credit cards, it’s loans, things like that. Third is groceries, this is how much money you’re spending at the grocery store. This is not ordering in this is not going to restaurants, it is just purchasing groceries. Number four is savings. That’s things like your IRA, your simple IRA, your Roth IRA, whatever it is your emergency fund, basically anything you’re putting away for a rainy day or saving for the future. And last is splurge this is going to restaurants This is ordering in this is your subscriptions. Basically, anything that’s not essential. And as a personal expense, anything that you really could just cut out if you really tried to skim by and it’s like I can do without these things, I can cut these off. Right, that’s splurging. Now that you have these five columns across the top of your paper, here’s where you’re going to do take your bank statement, go through one whole month, and just start looking at the transactions, take the transaction, look at the number that you spent and put that number underneath the category that corresponds to the type of transaction it was. So if you went to giant grocery stores, and he spent $96, that $96 goes underneath groceries, when you come across your mortgage payment, or your rent payment that goes underneath the first column utilities, necessities, you get what I’m going with here are going for here, do that for the entire month. That’s it, that’s free stop right there. Do that for the entire month. And then you’re going to add up all of the columns, except splurging. So you’re going to add up utilities, debts, groceries and savings. When you add that up, that is a super powerful number, that is the number that is the base, the core of what you need per month to cover all of your bills to cover your debts to live to eat to all that kind of stuff. Give yourself a pat on the back, because that is a super powerful number to have.

Now, you’re going to do this two more times with some other months. So basically, to recap, you’re going to do three total months of what I just said, if you’re trying to figure out what months, just pick random ones, if you’re like, I don’t know how to pick random ones, do what I do, I generally speaking pick one from the beginning of the year, I like the month of March, because we don’t really do too much in March. It’s not quite nice enough yet. It’s kind of brown winter, when we’re just kind of, you know, sort of going out a little bit, but sort of not, we’re not, you know, buying ice cream from the ice cream truck and all that stuff. It’s not an expensive month for us, then I’ll pick a month like July, because we tend to do a lot more stuff, then we’re doing family things and we’re out and about and I don’t have as many weddings. So we’re just like doing a lot more family stuff. And then lastly, I pick a month like November, That one seems to be a one of the biggest months usually at the end of the year because we’re buying food for Thanksgiving. We’re you know, buying food for Christmas cookies and ingredients for that. And we just got Christmas presents and presents for family members. So it just seems like there’s a sort of like fluctuating, right, it seems like it’s less than March sort of average in July, and then usually really high at the end of the year in November, December. Those are the months I generally pick and then I go from there. So you’re an add up the totals from those three months, and then divide by three. And now you’re going to have an even more powerful number. That is an average amount that you spend across your entire year to live per month. Now, that was the first step. Remember, that number that you have doesn’t take into account any of the splurging or personal spending or anything like that it is just the bare minimum you need to live to cover everything this exercise is to really find your minimum that you and then you get to choose the threshold for your maximum right? You want to know that you have your minimums covered and then you get to choose how much you want to hustle for that year or whatever it is. So that’s the first part going through your bank statements, categorizing those transactions and coming up with this number That is your super powerful number that you know you need to live.

So um, just for the rest of this whole entire episode, I’m going to use the number 4000. And I’m going to assume that you are a single person, you’re not married, and you have no kids. So you need $4,000 A month average, to cover all of your expenses and live and, and that kind of stuff.

Okay, the second part is where things get a little bit tricky. I’m gonna try to keep this really simple, though, you need to know the margins of your packages. The easiest, I think, in most simplistic, but yet sort of rough and coarse way to do this, that’s gonna get you in the ballpark is taking whatever your most common packages that you sell, and subtracting 20% for taxes, then we’re gonna go through and say, Okay, this package includes an album and a second photographer. So you’re gonna look basically get the cost of goods sold, you have in there, and you’re going to subtract that as well. I know that there are these other costs that might be involved after shooting a wedding, or other things you might do like you might have some client gifts or packaging materials, or whatever. But let’s not get bogged down in the details, let’s keep this as simple as possible. We’re ballparking. Here, if you want to add more detail later, you can do it after you’ve got this rough number, and you can finesse it then, but you’re just going to remember, take the average package you have that people buy from you, you’re going to subtract 20% for taxes, and then you’re going to subtract your cost of goods sold out of it. So let’s take that I said $4,000 earlier, and that was for like what you need per month. Now let’s say that you have your example wedding package is $5,000. That’s what you get. That’s your most average package. So if you subtract 20%, that’s subtracting $1,000 from 5000. That gives us 4000. Then you subtract another $850. And this is your cost of goods sold from my theoretical package that includes an additional photographer and an album. So after you’ve subtracted the 20%, after you’ve subtracted the $850 for cost of goods sold, that gives you $3,150 For each wedding, that’s your profit for each wedding. Awesome. Now you have another really powerful number, you know that you make this much money, generally speaking, per wedding, for each wedding that you photograph, that’s the second part. Now we get to do some mapping. In our first step, we came up with this $4,000 a month, as an average, you’re going to multiply that by 12 months since there’s 12 months in the year, that’s going to give you $48,000 is what you need to make per year to cover all of your bases to cover your expenses and all that kind of stuff. $40,000 is the total you need each year. So you take that number, and you divide it by the profit for each wedding, which is $3,150. That equals 15.23 weddings or 16 weddings. So this in this theoretical example, you need 16 weddings to photograph at this average package of $5,000 to meet your yearly expenses. How awesome is it to know that you either only have to photograph 16 weddings, or you’re like damn, I got to photograph 16 weddings. But now you have this benchmark 16 weddings, that’s the number I have to hit to really get to cover my bases to cover my yearly spending to put money away for the future. You get it right.

Now the fun part. I noticed that three steps this is step number four, not really a step. But it’s like now you can play around. Let’s say that we add in splurging of $1,000 a month at for eating at restaurants for ordering takeout for entertainment, like going to the movies or bars, whatever it is, that puts your yearly requirements up to $60,000. So you will need now 19 weddings to meet your lifestyle. So now you have the exact amount that you need to book 19 weddings to cover your lifestyle, including splurging that doesn’t include anything like engagement sessions, or family portraits or headshots you do on the side or real estate or whatever. You can book 19 weddings and say you know what I’m going to, I’m going to use 19 weddings to cover my entire bases. I’m just going to have some fun, whatever. And then whatever you add on over top of that, whatever any thing else that you do is gravy. And you can put that into a long term savings, you can invest it you can put in your IRA, you can save up for the big trip, but now that you know wow, if I just get 19 weddings, then anything else I do on top of that I can put in savings or I can do that big trip. That’s a pretty freeing and powerful thing, right? Let’s um let’s say in another hypothetical that you decide you’re going to go on a budget, and you’re going to spend only $500 a month on splurging, your yearly requirement now becomes 54 1000 You need to make and you can take two less weddings, or 17 Weddings instead of the 19, you need, or you still photograph the 19 weddings, and you put the other $6,000 that you’re saving, because you’re on this $500 budget, you put that into a Roth IRA or a simple IRA, or whatever your accountant tells you. Let’s go back to the original numbers again of the $4,800 a year, right. So you’re not doing any splurging or anything like that, let’s say you increase your package total, the amount that people are booking for everything else is the same, the 20% that you need to save for taxes, that $850 Your your you have to spend for your cost of goods sold, which is your wedding album and your second photographer. And let me just put one quick thought here, if you are under $5,000, a wedding, if you’re charging under $5,000, for wedding, raise your prices by $300. Right now, I almost guarantee that your clients are not going to notice it and new clients are not going to notice it. And if they do, and it’s like sorts of freak you out where you’re not booking the same amount, go back, look at your experience and look at places that you can increase value, increase your client experience, and then try again in a couple months. So let me just say that again, try it if you’re under $5,000, just raise your packages by $300 across the board. And if you give that a shot for the next 10 inquiries or something like that, see what your booking rate is almost guarantee it’s going to be the same amount because people are not going to pick up on that little of a jump. Going back. Like I said, Sorry, I got off on a little tangent there. But if you were to do that, if you were to just increase your package amount by $300, that brings your profit per wedding to $3,390 profit for each wedding. And you’d need 14.15 weddings or 15 weddings. That means you could actually do less weddings per year. If you just increase your packages by $300. You can remove one wedding or do one less wedding you need per year. That’s one time away that you get to book for yourself to do something fun. That’s one thing you can do with your family or whatever it is you get to do, you get to have one free weekend back. Now, that last step, like when you have that basic number, I’m not advocating for you saying oh, I just want to do the bare minimum, if that’s what you want. Like if you want to have a bare minimum lifestyle, or like this minimalist lifestyle, I’m all for it, it’s really hard to do a minimalist lifestyle with kids, I’m working on it. But anyway, there’s plenty of joy and going out with friends and having community and all that kind of stuff, you need to find the balance that works for you and your lifestyle. And having I think some people might say I just want more free time. So if I can sort of maximize how much money I’m making per wedding and then shoot less weddings, and keep my costs low. That’s what they want to live. Or maybe you’re maybe you’re the opposite. And you want to do a ton of weddings per year. And you’re trying to keep your your costs low. And then you’re at all these weddings that you’re shooting overtop of the 15th you actually need that money just goes in the bank. And maybe you maybe you work really hard one year, and you keep everything the same the next year, except you take 30 Less weddings, you only take 10 weddings, because you had this huge surplus one year. And that bought you a year to do way less weddings, to have fun to travel, whatever it is. But knowing this base number really gives you a lot of freedom to decide what you want to do and how you want to do it. It gives you the freedom to be a time millionaire to buy your time back. And I think that’s a really powerful idea as being able to buy your time back. So now that you have this base number, let me know what you come up with like what what is the lifestyle the dream that you’re trying to go for? Email me Daniel at Dana motor coaching.com I’d love to hear how this is working for you. Or if you’re like I’m lost math is not good for me. Just go to Daniel Moyer coaching.com or email me Daniel at anymore coaching. And let’s go through it. I hope this episode was super helpful and impactful for you. Oh, we made it to the end and that this seems like something that’s not that big of a task and you’ll get a lot of clarity out of it. Thanks so much for listening today. Make it a good day and I’ll talk to you soon. Transcribed by https://otter.ai

+ show Comments

- Hide Comments

add a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You can search episodes by topic, guest, series, and so much more. The world is at your finger tips!

I'm Dan! Life Coach, Photographer, Extreme Empath, and Podcaster.

I'm a full time wedding photographer since Jan. 2010.
Smitten Husband since 2014
Dad x Three (one plus twins), certified life coach, Phillies fan and extreme empath. 

more about me

hey there!

Get control of your money and feel good about it.

get it now


Feeling scattered and unfocused? Gain clarity with this 5 minute exercise.

Download now

Free download

 Top Resources

If money management 
gives you the sweats, 
this guide is for you.​
Within this guide is how I systemized my business finances, got comfortable with a budget, paid myself a regular paycheck, crushed over $70k of debt in 4 years and have more financial freedom than ever.
Thank you! Check your inbox for the download!
If money management 
gives you the sweats, 
this guide is for you.​
Within this guide is how I systemized my business finances, got comfortable with a budget, paid myself a regular paycheck, crushed over $70k of debt in 4 years and have more financial freedom than ever.
Thank you! Check your inbox for the download!

Business & Life Coaching
for Photographers

Daniel Moyer Coaching

© daniel moyer coaching 2024  |  Design by Tonic 

1:1 Coaching

follow along 
on Instagram:

get in touch >


@danielmoyercoaching >