The photographs taken of your wedding day will be some of the most special and important pictures that you’ve ever had taken. Of course, these days your precious photographs aren’t just found on a mantle or at your 20th anniversary party. There’s Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and even Pinterest all waiting to host the photos from your magical day. 

A lot is at stake, then, when it comes to hiring a wedding photographer. Choosing the right person to document your wedding probably feels like yet another overwhelming task to check off on your increasingly long to-do list — but, it really doesn’t have to be so scary. Here are five suggestions to help make finding the right photographer as comfortable and exciting as saying “I do” on your special day: 

First Things First: Know Your Budget

Okay, so maybe this is the most painful part. You need to know how much money is available for you to spend on the photos. Photography costs vary wildly depending on what you’re wanting from your session, your package choices, and the experience of your photographer. If you’re concerned about the costs, remember that you don’t need an elaborate package from an award-winning photographer to have the perfect pictures. In fact, you’d be surprised how under-the-radar photographers are often willing to go above and beyond for your special day. At the same time, don’t feel like you need to skimp on photography in favor of choosing someone who doesn’t fit your style. 

The best thing to do is to take a close look at your wedding budget (check out The Knot’s wedding budget calculator) and figure out what you’re willing to spend on the photos before you start calling up photographers.

Consider Your Wedding Plans and How They Will Impact Photography

Are you have a beach wedding? What about an elopement? The specific details of your big day have a major impact on the kinds of photographers you’ll want to research, the types of shots you’ll want to record, and even just the logistics of getting your wedding team from point A to point B, so that nothing is missed. It’s also worth noting that the size of your wedding will play a role in the cost of the photos. If you’re just eloping on the beach with two people and an officiant, you’ll usually have much lower photography costs than a major wedding with a rehearsal dinner and reception. 

Research, Research, Research

Open an old school notebook, grab a fancy pen, and start taking notes on the photographers that you see online. Look up the photographers in your wedding location and really browse with a critical eye through their websites, their Instagram pages, and even their blogs, if they have one. As you check out the pictures, start imagining the style of photography that you want for your wedding day. 

Every photographer has their own style and technique. You’ll probably know pretty quickly if a photographer’s style is for you or not. Even if their style matches what you envision, you might also want to look for pictures of wedding that represent you. If you’re having a same sex wedding, for instance, do you see photographs of other same sex couples? What about weddings with people of cultures similar to your own? While not foolproof, these clues can help you figure out if you’ll be comfortable with the person shooting your photographs. The last thing you want on your wedding day is to feel awkward or unsure around the person who is recording your most meaningful memories.

When you start to feel confident about what you’ve seen from a person’s website, then take a look at the other details on their page. Do they mention anything about packages and costs right away, or do you need to contact them for that information? Keep a record in your notebook of the photographers that you’ve contacted, so that you can refer back to your notes as they respond.

Have a Real Conversation

Email is a great way to introduce yourself and your future spouse, as well as to ask basic questions, but having a phone interview or meeting the photographer in-person really helps you to be sure that you’re making the right choice. Go into your conversation ready to discuss your specific photo ideas and your plans for the big day. Are they excited and on board with your ideas, or are they dismissive and more interested in shooting only how they want to shoot? 

Ask about digital and print copies, any packages they offer, their turnaround time, proof viewing, and about any rules they might have that might not mesh with your wedding plans. Are they okay, for example, with disposable cameras on every table for guests to snap the reception night away? If they aren’t, and that’s in your plan, you’re going to have to go back to your notebook and call the next photographer on your list. 

Don’t forget to ask about your photo rights, too. Some photographers have strict rules about posting the photos to social media or altering the images. Make sure that the photographer’s image rules are reasonable for you. 

Share Your Photo Wishes 

Saw a photo in a wedding magazine that caught your eye? Love the Instagram shots of wedding rings and names written in the sand? Share all of this with your photographer. Write down the shots that are most important to you, but also give them room to do their thing, too. Sometimes, it’s those surprise shots that are the best ones. 

Do you have any tips to share about hiring a photographer? Let us know in the comments. Looking for more wedding inspiration? Follow us on Facebook!

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