When planning a wedding there are three large expenses that can really make or break the day. The first is your venue and other than making it fit your budget, and being sure it can accommodate your guest list, fit your time frame and compliments your style, there is not much to think about. The second one is catering. Remember, this will include both the food and the drinks, has to accommodate differing dietary needs, (think vegan or gluten free options) and has to be delivered in a timely fashion to a large group. The last big expense is photography. Wedding planners generally advise couples to plan to spend about ten percent of their total budget on a specialized professional photographer. Photography may not seem that important when selecting a wedding gown, hiring caterers, arranging seating, guest lists, electing brides maids and groomsmen… but when it is all said and done you are going to take three things away from that day. While your marriage will flourish your memories of that day will fade - it takes a skilled professional to capture those moments otherwise they will be lost “like tears in rain”.
1) Do not let someone else choose your photographer. - This does not seem like something that would have to be mentioned, but in the chaos of planning a wedding it can be easy to let details slide. When dealing with budgets and limited time it can be easy to let a family member start making decisions, especially if they are paying. Be sure to stay involved in this process. Have them bring you 3-4 choices, take the time to look them over then sit down with said family member and discuss what works and what does not. Be sure that you are going to end up with a photographer that is qualified and whose work will represent you and compliment your sense of being.
2) Be sure you are making an apples to apples comparison between photographers. - This seems like it should be an easy thing to do, but there is no standard in pricing for photography. When discussing costs with a photographer it is important to know whether the cost they mention is just a creative shooting fee. Does their cost include prints? Just being handed a cd of all the images can seem like a good deal, but where do you get them printed? How do you go about getting an album? When they quote you a price does that include image retouching? You will want these questions answered before you decide. How much of the ceremony is covered in their quote? What type of products are included? Is retouching included? What guarantees do they have that the photographer will be available…
3) Do not sign any contracts without experiencing their work. - With so many things to plan for it can be easy to look at someones portfolio and think wow, lets hire them and have this settled. Don’t do it! You especially do not want to get sucked into a “sign-up now”, get your engagement photos, wedding announcements, wedding photos and find out after the engagement session you are stuck with a photographer you don't want. Take the time to get to know your photographers, and only commit to small bites in the beginning. You do not want to find yourself stuck with a photographer you hate and the only way out is to buy out the contract for the wedding.
4) Remember you don’t want every photo. - In this digital age with a lot of instant gratification it is easy to think you want every photo that gets snapped. Some of them are just going to be bad, a setting was wrong, somebody sneezed or a random photo bomb occurred. The other thing is a lot of them will be very repetitive. Trust your photographer to be able to show you a selection of the best images, after all that is what you are hiring us for.
5) Make sure the photographers have an opportunity to see the venues. - Even if the photographers have worked in that venue before, your ceremony and decorations are going to be unique. They need an opportunity to see your style and what your ceremony will be like. Having them present at your rehearsal is a great idea.
6) Once the photographer is chosen be sure they coordinate with the wedding planner. - A professional planner is a good idea to help everything run smoothly, but whoever is coordinating your wedding should meet with the photographer so they can have a chance to plan your event in a manner that will not interfere with either the event or your capturing memorable images of it.
7) Ask your guests to refrain from shooting. - Your guests are there to share your day with you. If they are trying to shoot photos, it is disruptive, they are not really having the opportunity to share in your day, and it limits the photographs your professional can get. Just imagine every photo of your guests is nothing but a sea of cellphones and you will begin to see what I mean.
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” – Benjamin Franklin