When couples first get engaged, one of the first three vendors they typically book is their photographer. Why? Because not all venues, photographers or planners specialize in weddings, booking the best wedding vendors to fit your personality and wedding day needs can be a competitive process. Ideally, the sooner you can contact the vendors you want, the better chances you will have of booking with them.
When considering your wedding photographer, you may have one or a few photographers in mind you’d like to inquire with, or you may be researching wedding photographers for the first time. Whether you already have a strong idea of who you want your photographer to be, the style of wedding photos you want, or no idea at all, there are five guidelines to consider in the process to help you book your preferred wedding photographer.
Review the portfolio
Be sure the photographer you have in mind or that you’ve researched for the first time has sufficient experience in photographing weddings. Your photographer will set the pace for the day and is the one wedding vendor you’ll spend the most time with on your wedding day, so having previous experience shooting weddings is a must to make sure your day runs on time with no added stress.
When reviewing photographers’ portfolios, look for a variety of weddings (not just photos all from the same wedding) and ask the photographer about his/her past wedding experience over the phone or email before booking. Only you can know what level of experience you want your photographer to have before booking her for your wedding, but at a minimum, I would recommend at least six weddings within the last 12-18 months as a second or lead photographer. This minimum experience would allow your photographer to have experienced a variety of weddings, managing their different timelines, personalities and lighting conditions. Any fewer than six weddings or if they haven’t photographed a wedding in over a year would tell me that wedding photography is not their priority or passion, and you do not want to book a vendor who can’t make your wedding photo experience a priority.
Timing is everything
Some brides-to-be reach out to their ideal photographer before they’re officially engaged to help them get the inside track on dates available and their budget commitment. Now, these brides aren’t totally nuts; they’ve typically been dating their person long enough to have seriously talked about getting engaged in the future. I’m a big believer in “when you know, you know!”
As soon as you are comfortable, make contact with the 1-4 wedding photographers you’re interested in booking. Typically, photographers have a contact or specific inquiry page on their websites that make it easy to get in touch. Again, generally speaking, the sooner you can learn your target photographer’s dates available, pricing and photo style, the sooner you can make a decision and book your photographer while they still have your date available.
Make photos a priority
Wedding photos are important to any wedding day, but the priority of photos on the wedding day to each couple can vary. For photographers who take a very limited number of weddings each year or who have been shooting weddings for a while, they may be much more selective of what types of couples or weddings they decide to book. If capturing the best wedding photos is second priority only to marrying the love of your life, be sure to mention this to your photographer during your first phone call before booking, particularly if your photographer is in high demand with low availability.
Know your budget
If you want to book your first choice photographer, be sure to walk into that conversation with an understanding of your budget reserved for wedding photography. Generally, photographers who are in high demand with low availability will require a higher financial commitment. Likewise, photographers with less wedding experience but high availability may require a lower financial commitment. Know your budget and know what’s important to you: are you willing to increase your wedding photo budget to ensure the best photo quality and experience?
Name drop like it's hot!
If you were referred to your preferred wedding photographer through a friend who has worked with and raved about that wedding photographer, don’t be afraid to name drop! Wedding photographers love to work with kind people who are referred by kind people, as opposed to meeting a couple cold turkey and not knowing if it will be a stressful experience working together. Seemingly small details like having friends in common can help both you and your preferred photographer feel good about moving forward to work together for your own wedding day because not only are you choosing your photographer; your photographer is also choosing you.
Working with humans is never a sure thing, but when you’re ready to start the process of booking wedding vendors, following these five guidelines can help you secure your preferred photographer for your special day!