The easy part is finding that special someone to marry you. The hard part is the actual planning of your wedding. (kidding, sort of)
It's no secret that there is a roller coaster of emotions and stresses leading up to your big day. You can be embroiled in colors, fonts, paper weight & texture, or hung up on flowers, venues, the dress, & the guest list. These are all reasons why couples take more than a year to piece it all together. Whether you're on The Knot, WeddingWire, or the myriad of other go-to wedding websites, couples can (now more than ever) experience a paradox of choice far beyond the suggestions you'll be getting from family and friends.
Depending on the source, you'll often see 'photography' topping the list of your planning priorities. This is of course with good reason and merit. Here are some important things to remember when choosing not only to prioritize photography but actually choosing your wedding photographer:
1) What memories are made of
Long after the cake has been eaten, the music faded out, and the bouquet has been tossed - it's the photos that remain. Whether they're on your walls, on your desk at work, or posted online for all your friends to see - your photos are one of the only things that you and your guests will get to keep from the day. One of the main differences between photography and videography is how you consume the media. A video - while wildly cinematic and has the capacity to give you goosebumps - requires you to sit down with the intention to watch it. From digging out the DVD and sitting in front of the TV, it's a process. An image is instant and much more organic. It may be the first thing you see when you wake up, or a random reminder of how amazing your love is after a hard days work. The memories your brain is flooded with after looking at a photo is the real video.
2) Quality vs. Quantity vs. Personality
You will always want a quality photographer shooting your wedding. One of the ways to ensure that is to develop a sense for what style of photography you want and then finding a photographer that you feel captures closest to that vision. You can start creating vision boards by compiling your found inspiration from Pinterest/Instagram/Etsy. When reviewing the portfolios and collections of photographers don't be afraid to align their work with your board. See how it stacks up.
You want to make sure your photographer has shot enough weddings to be thoroughly prepared for any and everything that can happen throughout the day. There is a tipping point though to the relationship between quality and quantity. The larger the company the more weddings they shoot, which means the more photographers they employ. Each photographer, regardless of training - will be different from every other. Expect styles to vary accordingly depending on which photographer shoots your wedding. On the opposite side, if you book with a smaller company who limits the number of weddings they shoot, you'll get a more intimate and boutique experience.
This is an often overlooked metric in the trifecta outlined in this post. Remember, you'll most likely be spending more time with your photographer throughout the entire day than your significant other (especially since you won't be seeing one another during the 'getting ready' hours before the ceremony). So you have to get along. You have to click. You have to be comfortable - otherwise it can show in your pictures. One of the best ways to test this is to talk about your wedding photography over the phone. While initial conversation may be through email - don't be afraid to schedule a phone call or simply call in. Photographers want to hear from you too. In a world gone paperless it's nice to actually speak to a person outside the walls of your inbox. As conversations progress an in-person meeting may also be something to schedule so you and your partner can sit down with your photographer and discuss the details of your wedding day and go over the photos you want taken.
Just because you can find it for cheaper doesn't mean you should and we all know the race to the bottom is the fastest one. As far as professional services go, photography is a tricky one. In a world where the barriers to entry have been lowered to the point that anyone with a Costco membership and reads CNET can call themselves a photographer, you - the consumer, of these services have to be even more educated. WeddingWire and The Knot will list average prices for wedding photographers in your city - and that average is scarily accurate. However, if I've remembered anything from my college level statistics courses it's that we need to omit the outliers that can skew that average. While Love Lit's average is $2500, you can expect to see prices ranging from $800 to $10,000. If you see someone pricing a full wedding day package for less than $1,500 - approach it with the same discernment as you would a salvaged titled vehicle with a fresh coat of paint at a used car lot. There's a reason it's cheaper and the reasons may not be noticeable till it's too late. For more obvious reasons, the $10,000 wedding photography package is often times just a financial limitation and not so much a question of quality.
There is much more to be said on this subject, but if you remember these 3 important factors when looking for a photographer for your wedding you'll be in a much better position to make informed decisions that you'll be happy about every time you see a photo from your wedding day.
I leave you with a great short that parodies a modern day wedding photographer that I can relate to on nearly every level:
Credit: SLF Wedding