Getting engaged is one of those milestones in your life that you will never forget. I can still remember when Adam proposed so clearly, and it’s a memory I absolutely love to look back on. I think I spent the next week (okay, okay, months) staring at the shiny diamond that was now on my left hand.
It was such an exciting time, and I love that you get to celebrate the milestone with your friends and family throughout the months leading up to your wedding. If you’re Type A like me and get a thrill from calendars and excel sheets and all of that, then you probably had a lot of your wedding planned in the weeks following your engagement, which is so awesome! But even if you’re a bit more relaxed about your planning, I’ve thought up my top 3 tips for picking your wedding photographer from the mind of a Type A planner and experienced wedding photographer!
Free tip: make an account on The Knot if you haven’t already!
I loved using The Knot when we were planning our wedding. Not only was it useful to have a checklist of what to have done and when, but I also loved having their massive index of vendors with reviews from previous couples!
One of the first things on most wedding checklists is to pick your venue, because if you have your heart set on a specific venue, then your date will most likely be dictated by their availability. If you are flexible on where you get married but have a specific date in mind, then definitely check out a handful of venues to see what you love!
Once you have your venue, wedding date (and a planner if applicable!), I recommend booking your photographer, videographer and any other key vendors you really want to work with.
Here are my top 3 tips that I share with a lot of our clients about choosing a wedding photographer from my own wedding planning experience and also my experience as wedding photographer!
1. Determine Your Budget
It’s important to have a good idea of what you want to spend on your wedding. The Knot can really help by giving some guidance on how much of your total budget to allot to large ticket items like your venue, catering, and photography. It’s also important to have some wiggle room in case you end up falling in love with a vendor who is a little out of your price point. However, keep in mind that these are typically average prices and may not be realistic if you’re having a large wedding or want to work with highly reviewed and experienced vendors. For example, I was shocked when I saw the recent averages for wedding photography and videography in the Midwest region because I know most skilled and experienced vendors that I’d recommend, including us, are about $1-3k more than the average. It’s also important to know that skilled, experienced vendors are worth that higher investment.
Something to keep in mind during your budget break down is what will be around the day after the wedding and your 50th anniversary. And friends, that is photography and videography. How many times have you picked up your grandparents’ or parents’ wedding photos?
I want to share this advice as a past bride, not as a photographer. I can’t stress enough that you should view photography and videography as an investment. During the planning process, I remember being swept away by cake tastings and catering meetings. And those things were amazing on our wedding day, BUT, Adam and I just celebrated our 3rd anniversary this past July and we pulled out our wedding album and flipped through the pages. I remembered the way he looked at me during our first look, how small our little Lilly was when we did photos with her, and so many other special moments. We played our wedding video and just about died, like every time we watch it, as we see Lilly’s little puppy body excitedly wagging toward us when we did a first look with her. We cherish these two things and are so happy we invested in the vendors we did because we know we’ll cherish showing off our wedding photos for the rest of our lives.
With that in mind, I know that budgets are important, but I have never heard someone say wish they had chosen a cheaper photographer…but I’m sure we all have that one friend who regrets so often that they didn’t invest in their wedding photos.
2. Do Your Research & Determine Your Style
Okay, so now you have your budget figured out and are planning to set aside a significant amount to invest in photography and videography. The next step is to do your research. Jump on Instagram, Google and look through photographers who have been given rockstar reviews from their past clients. Search wedding hashtags on Instagram and see if you can start following some photographers that you would love to work with. And of course ask your friends for referrals!
You can also use Pinterst and Instagram to find what styles you really love. Once you have found that style, look for photographers who shoot and edit similarly. And check where those Pins lead! They may lead you right to your dream photographer’s website.
For example, we do a pretty consistent mix of documentary (read: candid) and traditional (read: posed). We do this mix because we love, love, love capturing the candid, unplanned moments that will enable you to remember how you felt on your wedding day. But we also know that being in front of the camera can be awkward and we use poses and prompts to make sure you feel comfortable and look stunning.
3. Hire A Photographer You Could Hang Out With
This is the most common piece of advice we share with our wedding couples and during consultations if people ask for advice on picking a photographer. When you connect with your photographer I promise it will make your experience so much more enjoyable.
We spend more time with you on your wedding day than any guest at your wedding except for maybe your wedding party. We really pride ourselves on making the experience feel like your are hanging out with a good friend and more times than not, we’re all sad to part when our coverage is up!
An engagement session can also be very helpful with this. Engagement sessions give you the opportunity to hang out with your photographer prior to wedding day which can help you 1) get comfortable with them and being in front of the camera as well as 2) knowing what to expect prior to wedding day.