As a bride that is planning her wedding, no doubt the largest thought in your mind is how expensive everything is and can you budget it all within your available money. And, can you get 100% of what your wedding day is supposed to look like in your minds eye?
That answer can be a definite “yes” and there are many ways to accomplish that without totally busting your budget or slighting yourself in any way. Here are a few tips to help you along the way and especially in choosing a wedding photographer.Sure, I admit, I am persistent with brides in insisting that they hire a professional wedding photographer. I didn’t get this way because I am one, but because I have seen the work that brides paid for that honestly, wasn’t worth what they paid. Seasoned and veteran photographers work hard at what they do, have spent years behind the camera, and look at ways to make their work stand out so that anyone can recognize it immediately. It also has a lot to do with making sure that they client is totally satisfied and would use them again for all their photography needs. Great photographers don’t just take “snapshots”, but take lasting memories from a small slice of time that they made stand still for all to see.
Maybe you can’t afford that $15,000 wedding photographer, but you CAN afford a good solid professional who works 30-35 weddings a year and has learned the various nuances and timing of weddings to capture those precious moments you will cherish for a lifetime. Chances are, you will probably not wear that wedding gown again, you won’t have that DJ again for other things in your life, and you probably will never see your groom in that tux again either. However, you CAN totally relive that day in your wedding photographs and in ways you will want to see them over and over and over to relive that day together.
So here are a few things that can help you make a solid decision for your wedding photography needs.
- Interview like you are hiring a personal assistant for your job. There would be nothing worse than hiring the first person that comes in the door only to discover you are not compatible in personalities or work ethic. Interview several photographers and ask the questions you need answered. Also, see if they are asking YOU questions about your wedding plans. If the entire conversation is about how “great” they are, and not how YOU have planned, chances are, they aren’t your person.
- NEVER hire based on price alone. Even if it means spending more than you budgeted, otherwise you might discover that what you got wasn’t what you expected. Hire based on value and that is sometimes hard to define. Do they shoot in a style you like? Do they have a personality you like? Are others weddings they photographed the quality you like? Do they offer products- like albums and prints- you desire. Each of these add value to your photography and should be things you consider.
- So you found that photographer you MUST have. He/she costs twice as much as you budgeted. So now what? Consider cost savings in other areas. Do you REALLY have to have that 5th vegetable in your buffet? Do you HAVE to have the fine china and silver table wear? Is that 6 tiered wedding cake totally necessary? Your guests seldom remember these things, but WILL remember that you enjoyed your wedding day and had a blast. Will you remember those things because you had great photography or will many of those moments be missed because you “saved a few dollars”?
- Hire full-time professionals that have done weddings before. This isn’t just true in your photography needs, but everything you will need. Would you hire someone to make your wedding gown who has never made one before? Would you totally trust your unreliable cousin to plan your catering? Would you want the family florist or the friend of a friend to do your flowers?
- Get everything in writing and see if they use a Contract. Without a contract, no matter who your vendors are, you have no recourse if things do go badly. I photographed a wedding recently and the flowers never showed up. There was no contract involved, so the bride was left going to the nearby supermarket for her flowers. I DO hope it worked out for her, but without a contract, about all that’s left is for her to get angry.
- Worry more about your future memories than you do about everyone’s memories. Do you remember the last wedding you were at? If you saw a totally thrilled bride and groom having the time of their life together, you probably remember it. I doubt you can totally recall the food or the flowers, but you sure can remember the bride and groom and all their love and that wonderful day together. Wedding planners will tell you that if you cater to your own needs first, your guests will automatically have a great time. Make sure you memories in your wedding photos are part of that planning.
One of the largest and most memorable weddings I ever photographed was one of the simplest I had ever seen. Her gown was from a consignment shop, the food was prepared by a great caterer and it was nothing “fancy”, there were plastic plates and table wear, the flowers were beautiful and very simple, her cake was from a local baker and done almost “cookie cutter” style, and her DJ was from a referral from a friend who had recently gotten married. And she had great wedding photos because her and her groom had a great time sharing that love they had for one another with others on their wedding day. Face it, people are coming to your wedding because the care about YOU and not so much for the festivities.
Remember, you DON’T have to live with your catering tomorrow, but you DO have to live with your wedding photos- good or bad- for the rest of your life.