In recent years, drone photography has gone from a niche add-on for only the most extravagant weddings to an almost “must-have” for couples who want to capture the entirety of their big day. And given how gorgeous the results are, with their sweeping aerial views and unparalleled close-ups, its rise in popularity isn’t surprising.

“The primary advantage of capturing aerial imagery with a drone at your wedding is that it can literally elevate the memory of your special day,” explains Christopher Kabat, Sr. pilot and owner, ProAerial Media, LLC . “Imagine seeing a bird’s eye view of your entire wedding venue and the surrounding area from a few hundred feet in the air, or an epic reveal shot of the ceremony while slowly cresting the roof of the church, as if it were a big-budget Hollywood production.”

But that doesn’t mean hiring a drone vendor is as straightforward as a traditional photographer. So, here’s what you need to know about the technology for your wedding. 

Hire a professional

While drones are increasingly accessible to the public, you still shouldn’t try to save a bit of cash by having a friend or cousin try their hand at drone photography for your wedding.

“When hiring a drone pilot, it’s important to consider the pilot’s/photographer’s experience. You wouldn’t trust the catering to anyone other than a chef of a professional catering business,” advises Kabat.

He recommends hiring a vendor that uses a licensed Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Pilot in Command (PIC) because they’ve undergone the training required to fly the drone in the safest and most responsible way. They should also have their Part 107 certificate from the FAA as well as proper insurance documentation. 

“Mitigating risk is extremely important, but so is experience behind the lens. An experienced pilot will also be able to quickly determine the safest and best placements of the drone in order to get the best shots in the most efficient manner,” adds Kabat. 

Hire a traditional photographer, too

To ensure your wedding is properly covered, you should book a still photographer in addition to a drone operator. 

“Don’t solely rely on a drone; it is not a replacement for a talented wedding photographer. It’s that little extra, kind of like a first-class upgrade,” says Kabat. 

Budget appropriately

Like with any wedding vendor, the price for a drone operator and photographer can vary greatly depending on equipment quality, skills and post-production capabilities.

For only still photography, Kabat estimates couples can expect to spend $500 to $1,000 for half a day and $750 to $2,500+ for a full day. When adding video, he projects you’ll need to spend $750 on the low end to $2,500+ on the upper end. 

Editing is where prices vary the most, though. 

“You could expect to pay as little as a few hundred dollars for a short montage of aerial scenes compiled together to music, or several thousand dollars for a fully produced video complete with expert color correction, custom graphics, original music, and slick transitions,” he says. 

Consider logistics and plan ahead

“The drawback to utilizing a drone at your wedding is that implementing it can mean a bit more planning and leg-work ahead of time – but it will be worth it,” explains Kabat.

First, you’ll need to determine if drone photography is even possible at your venue. For instance, if your venue is near an airport, you probably won’t be able to use a drone. Regulations vary from state to state, though, so be sure to check with local officials. 

Another potential hiccup: the weather. “The weather is a variable that is, of course, unpredictable and can become more critical where aerial operations are concerned, especially in tight spaces,” says Kabat. 

You should also consider if the drone will be a distraction from such an important moment. Drones can be noisy, so be sure to do practice runs and discuss your preferences with your pilot and photographer.

©CTW Features