Long after the wedding cake has been eaten; long after the flowers have wilted; long after the thank you notes have been written you will have one tangible remembrance of your wedding – the photographs.
As important as finding the right dress, the right cake and the right caterer are, finding the right photographer is just as, if not more, important. And, like selecting a reception site and caterer, selecting and hiring the right photographer is one of the many planning tasks that should be faced early in the process.
Most photographers’ services are booked anywhere from 12 to 18 months in advance, especially during the busy spring and summer months. If you wait too close to the wedding date, instead of booking the photographer you want, you may end up with the photographer that is available. Keep in mind, most photographers can only shoot one wedding a weekend. That means on average they only have 52 available dates.
For most brides, however, selecting a wedding photographer is one of the few areas where they have no idea what to expect or look for. Begin by looking at photographs from the weddings of friends and family. Ask for their suggestions or recommendations. Also, look in bridal magazines to determine what kind of shots and poses you like. Being an educated bride is your best tool for getting the kind of wedding photos you’d like. Once you have narrowed the field to three or four photographers, make appointments to visit them in their studios. When making the appointments, tell the photographer what your budget will be.
* Directory of Wedding Professionals – Photography
* Questions For Your Photographer
* Photography Checklist
After the reception, photography is usually the most expensive service. Basic wedding packages in the area generally start in the $1,500 range and can go up to several thousand dollars. By informing the photographer of your budget before the appointment, you may save yourself some time and trouble. If the photographer’s rates are higher than your budget will allow, there is no point in spending the time interviewing him. In most cases they will be happy to recommend someone in your price range.
When you visit, be prepared with the information the photographer will need to give you an accurate proposal. In addition to the date, time and location of the wedding, you should know how many people you will have in the wedding party as well as any special photo requests you have. Not only will you want to view his work, you will also want to discuss all phases of the photography.
Ask for references and a detailed list of what the wedding package you are considering will include. Once you have this information from two or three photographers, take the time to carefully compare the various packages line-by-line, as well as the rate for reprints and timeframes for orders.
In the end, the final decision on who you hire may come down to feelings. Your photographer will be involved in your wedding and reception, all day. It should be someone you feel comfortable with and who you feel will do the best job for you.
Contracting a photographer doesn’t end your responsibilities. You will want to meet with your photographer shortly before the wedding to confirm the list of shots he will take at the wedding. Getting these wedding shots are a once in a lifetime opportunity, so you don’t want to miss any shot.
If there is something special you want, for example if your great-grandmother will be there, you need to let the photographer know ahead of time. By the same token, if there are some “traditional” wedding shots you aren’t interested in, perhaps the picture of your hands over the bouquet, let the photographer know so they won’t waste their valuable time (which you are paying for) taking pictures you don’t want. It is also very helpful to assign someone familiar with the families to assist the photographer rounding up everyone for the different photos.
Some other things to remember. Be on time. If your photographer is arriving at the dressing location at 9 a.m. to take preparation shots, be ready at 9 a.m. Whatever amount of time you normally take to get ready, double it. And if you plan to take portraits at the church immediately after the ceremony, inform everyone involved the night before at the rehearsal dinner that they need to remain. By starting early and discussing everything you want with your photographer, you will have photographs from your wedding that will bring you happiness all your married life.