With the holidays and Valentine's Day so recently behind us, many newly engaged couples are in the beginning stages of planning their wedding day. I'm not going to lie, it can be stressful. When planning my own wedding, while most of it was easy for me, there were definitely a few times I went into Bridal Meltdown mode. There are so many vendors, with so many options and so many things to consider when hiring someone. When it comes to most things, I usually pretty quickly know what I want. But then the Gemini in me quickly changes my mind and decides the complete opposite thing and style sounds appealing too. This is followed by countless hours of wracking my brain on what to choose. So you can only imagine the indecisive moments I had when picking my own wedding vendors! I know I'm not alone in that either. So I want to help anyone out there having trouble choosing by my own personal and professional experiences.
Before hiring any wedding vendors, it's absolutely vital to know what your budget is. Once you decide how much you're able to spend on your wedding, you can allocate different budgets for different vendors. This is where the research comes in! How do you know what to spend on a vendor when you have no idea how much vendors in your area charge? It's simple - you ask them. Once you have a general idea of how much certain vendors charge, you can budget for your photographer and other vendors.
When you look through other's wedding photos, what images appeal to you? What images draw you in and why? Is it the soft, airy and natural look of the wedding venue shots or the emotion the Bride and Groom convey in another image? Answering these questions will give you a sense of photographic style you're drawn to. This is the start in defining which wedding photographer is right for you.
You also want to ask yourself, what about this photographer do I love? When it comes to hiring a photog, it's not only about the pictures. You want to connect with them. You want someone who is passionate about their work and passionate about creating a wonderful experience for their couples. You really don't want to look back at your wedding album and say, "Well, the images are beautiful but our photographer was a real jerk." Am I right? So how do you know if you connect with a certain photographer? Check out their website. Check out their blog. Check out their social media pages. And equally as important, contact them! If you're still unsure after a few emails, meet up with them over coffee and chat. It may seem like a lot of effort, but it is so truly important to communicate with your photog and know that you're the right fit for each other.
Before you hire your wedding photographer, it's also very important to understand what you expect from them. Do you want full day coverage? Do you need a second photographer? An engagement session? A beautiful heirloom album? These are all so helpful in not only making your decision on who to hire, but also for your photographer. If there's something that you want and it's missing from a photographer's collection, it can probably be added à la carte. Many photographers also create custom collections to meet the needs of their clients. So when you know what you want to get out of your wedding photography, you're better able to communicate that with prospective vendors and get exactly what you need for your wedding day.
The last thing you want to remember is this - you get what you pay for. Sometimes, it's not about finding the best "deal". You want a professional. A cousin with a nice camera isn't always the best choice, especially if wedding photography ranks really high on your wedding "must haves" list. You want someone who has the experience to know how to handle situations as they happen. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that their wedding happened EXACTLY how they planned it to. It very rarely happens. Plans always get changed in one way or another, and a lot of times this happens on the actual wedding day. How you and your photographer handle those changes helps determine your overall experience and memory of your day. For example, let's say the weather forecast all week called for warm weather and sunshine on your big day. The wedding day rolls around and guess what? It's non-stop rain. All day. This means the natural light is not great, the skies are gloomy and there are probably puddles everywhere. Because of this, your planned shooting locations may become unavailable and your plans can get compromised. This type of situation can be handled by a professional with great images to show for it and a good attitude to help the worrying bride. You will not get the same results from the person who doesn't quite know how to work their camera or deal with off camera flash or additional light sources. These critical moments are key factors in why you should choose a professional. Why? Because it's their job to deal with the situation as best they can and still get results you're happy with. You wouldn't hire a plumber to install a new engine in your car, would you? Probably not. The same applies for wedding photography.
Just know that it IS worth the investment. Your wedding decor will end up in a box in the basement or sold to other brides. Your flowers will wilt shortly after the wedding and be gone. Your imagery will be the lasting physical memory of your wedding day. So when you're budgeting and you think you can't afford a certain photographer, it's always easier to pull money from your floral or decor budget and put it towards photography in order to get the photog of your dreams rather than settling for "the best deal" and being unsatisfied.
This just merely touches on wedding day planning, but I truly hope it speaks any of you brides who are unsure of where to begin and helps you to be confident in your decisions when booking vendors!