How the heck to choose a Wedding Photographer?!

    Other than a spouse and rings, the photos last the longest from your wedding day! I joke with friends that your wedding day and honeymoon is really the best you will ever look! You will certainly not get any younger and most likely not any thinner… at least that’s the case for most of us!

    It is important how you go about choosing your wedding photographer. Unless you are one of the fortunate girls with an unlimited budget, I think a lot of brides start out thinking “What can I get for the least amount of money?” with almost every aspect of the wedding. I have to say, that’s probably the worst way to approach most things, especially photography.

    I personally went through this experience planning my own wedding, I got down to two photographers that I had met with and had personal references for. First guy was a gentleman who I knew would do “fine” and was inexpensive. As for number two his work was way more my style, current in wedding photography, and I could imagine treasuring the images he would create. He did cost 3 times the amount of the first guy but I have learned that “you always get what you pay for.” I didn’t want to walk away from my wedding with images I felt “blah” about….I wanted pictures to capture my day specifically to my own style and aesthetic. I also considered who I could imagine being my literal shadow on my wedding day and photographer number two fit the bill much better than number one.  Do not underestimate the importance of getting along with all of your vendors you choose for your big day, after all they are creating your wedding experience. With all that said, we chose to invest into the more expensive photographer and are so glad we did!

Here are some important things to consider when choosing –

  1. Style is a great place to start. Start looking at photographers in your area and get a feeling for what types of images you are drawn to. What type of end result do you want when all is said and done? You cannot hire a JCPenney Portrait photographer to try to take Annie Leibowitz type images. This is just a research phase, where you learn what you like and don't stress about budget.
  2. Reputation and references go hand in hand with researching style. Start asking friends who did their weddings. Ask if they were happy with not only photographer’s final product but their personality? Was he or she an asset to the day?  If you find a photographer that you love but no one you know has used him or her, feel free to ask him or her for a few references you could contact. Any photographer with professional services will be willing to give you a reference. I cannot tell you how many wedding photographer horror stories I have heard & witnessed but I will save those for another blog post!
  3. Budget is of course essential to consider as you start to narrow down. You might love a photographer that starts at $10k but have a $2k budget, this is when you can get realistic about who might start to fit the bill. The average wedding photographer cost or package now in the US starts at $3k. There are certainly options under this, as mine even start below this point but please be realistic with your starting point. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Someone offering to do your entire wedding for $399 is definitely suspect...they might be extremely inexperienced and therefore unprepared for what might come on wedding day or they might turn up so-so images.
  4. Product options are important once you narrow down who might fit your style, personality, and budget.  If you know you are only interested in buying the digital files, make sure that’s an option for you to purchase. Every photographer will have options, just make sure you can see some samples and you like what they offer. I know that I keep my product line fairly simple so if someone wants something very elaborate, I might not be their best fit.
  5. Availability, of course you would need to find out who is available for your date so once you get narrowed down to a few, see who is even available! Due to my baby coming this summer, I had to say no to a lot of people unfortunately asking for weddings around my due date. More popular photographers book quickly as well as prime dates like Saturdays in June fill up quickly!

These five things are just a few suggestions on how to go about who to work with on your wedding day. I am making these suggestions in relationship to photography but they actually work fairly well with all the vendors you will choose for the day! Make sure you will love the people, love their work, and feel like they are worth the investment you are making in them, as well as being trustworthy to deliver!