Your wedding day will likely be one of the most memorable days of your life, and most people want to capture those memories with photographs. Here's what you should consider before choosing a photographer to document your special day.
Before you begin your search for the perfect photographer for you, you first need to decide how much you can afford. Prices can vary widely. But the skill and expertise of the photographer is just one contributing factor to the bottom line.
According to Brides, couples in the Midwest should plan to spend between $3,000 to $4,000 on a photographer while those on the West coast can expect an average range of $3,000 to $4,700. On the East coast, the range is $2,500 to $5,000.
Your venue may also determine the final price. For example, a destination wedding on the beach will likely be more expensive than a wedding at a local hotel. In addition to travel and accommodation expenses, your photographer may need special equipment to shoot your chosen venue.
If your wedding date falls in June, September, or October — the most popular months to get married — you should expect to pay a premium. Seventy-three percent of all weddings take place between May and October. Conversely, if your wedding date falls during the off-season, you may be able to secure a discount.
You're only going to use most vendors for a limited amount of time. Your DJ will play music for 3-4 hours, but your photographer is going to spend the entire day with you. And if you choose to have professional photographs taken at the rehearsal dinner the night before and the gift opening brunch the next day, that photographer will essentially be spending the entire weekend with you.
Keep in mind your photographer does far more than just take pictures. In fact, once the wedding is over, the real work begins. A photographer spends many hours after the big day going through hundreds of photographs, choosing the best shots, and editing them to make every photograph look perfect.
Determine Candidate Pool
Once you have set your budget, it's time to begin your initial search for a photographer. Your venue may have a list of preferred vendors, but if you're marrying on a coveted date, they may already be booked. If you have hired a wedding planner, they may be your best resource. They have likely worked with all the local photographers previously and are familiar with their style.
Ask friends and family members for recommendations. Scour social media looking for local photographers. This is a great way to also get a preview of their work and the styles of photographs they take.
Be sure to check out online reviews as well. You're (hopefully!) only getting married once, so you want to be sure the photographer you choose doesn't "blow their shot." Yes, your dress, food, music, and venue are important, but if your photographer fails, you won't have the visual reminders of just how perfect your wedding day was.
Now that you have scouted the available photographers, it's time to meet with 2-3 to see if your budget, desired style, and personalities mesh. Remember, you're paying to have someone capture a monumental life event. Check out their portfolio and talk about the kinds of shots you like. Do you want artistic shots? Candid? Classic poses? Highly edited? Does their portfolio reflect your vision?
If you like what you see visually, move on to assessing their personality. Can you see spending the day with this person? Are your guests going to feel comfortable with their presence? The photographer you choose is going to take up a significant percentage of your wedding budget, so choose the one with the skills and temperament that feels right for you.