12 Ways to Have Your Dream Wedding Part 2 :: Choosing a Wedding Photographer

This post was originally published on March 10, 2014. It has been updated slightly and I’m including new photos!

choosing a wedding photographer 12 ways to have your dream wedding

Welcome Back to Part 2 of my blog series on 12 Ways to Have Your Dream Wedding. Over the course of the next couple of months I will be sharing with you a series of articles to help you have the most amazing day of your life. In case you missed it, you may want to catch up on the past article:

I’ve written these articles to share with you my perspective on what you can do to have your Dream Wedding. A lot of this is just good old common sense and none of it is that much work. But I promise if you incorporate these ideas into the planning of your wedding day, you will reap the rewards of a beautiful, calm and fun wedding day of your dreams!

SELECTING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOUR DREAM WEDDING

Well, you knew this one was coming 🙂  Of course you should hire a photographer – heck, you should hire me! And you know I am going to have A LOT to say about this so buckle up.

But seriously, this isn’t a commercial about me. This is advice I have given to newly engaged couples for almost 20 years, ever since I made huge mistakes while planning my wedding. Seriously, your wedding day will go by in a flash and it will be over and all of the work you have done, all you have planned for the past year, will be OVER. How will you remember your wedding? By the photos. By looking through your wedding album. The photos are all you have left when the day is over – that and your beautiful husband or wife of course. You cannot go back and recreate that day. Well you could, but it’s gonna cost you.

This is another tip that goes beyond just the wedding day, this is the rest of your life. When you get your wedding photos back, you want to be dazzled and thrilled because these are the photos that you, your spouse, your family, your children, will look at for the rest of your life.

To Have or Not Have a Wedding Photographer

Please, please, please have a real photographer at your wedding! Please. It will be the single biggest regret you have after your wedding. Just the other day I was at a party with friends asking them “what was your biggest regret about your wedding” and 3 people immediately said “I would have hired a real photographer!”

And you can add me to that list as well. When I got married back in the day – we hired a guy my husband-to-be worked with. The guy was cheap and had a photo album from Rite-Aid with some photos stuck to the pages as his portfolio. We didn’t know what we were looking for and said, sure. 17 years later, I still think this was the biggest mistake of my life.

I literally HATE my wedding photos. So many people have a friend who “has a camera” or an uncle who “takes pictures” that will come to their wedding for nothing or next to nothing. But guess what, more times than not, you get what you pay for. We sure did. (There’s a special treat for you at the end of this article.)

Wedding Photography Style

So you’re going to hire a photographer. Great!

The first thing you need to do is pick the right photographer for you. How do you pick a photographer? There are hundreds of them out there, literally. How do you decide which one to hire?

First, look at their portfolio – these are all online these days. Ask yourself, “Do I like their photos?” If you do, then ask yourself “What do I like about their photos?” Are they romantic, playful, bright, muted, moody, artistic, black and white, vintage . . . or any of another bazillion ways you can describe photography. Then figure out if that style works for you and if you can see yourself in that style of photography. Not that a photographer is going to “recreate” any of their photos with you in them. That’s not the point.

But photographers definitely have a style. And you may love their style of photography but maybe it’s not right for you. Let me tell you a sad, but very real, story:

A very dear friend of mine, Leigh, was getting married about two years ago. She and her now husband, Dan, hired a well-known, well-regarded, wonderfully-talented and fairly expensive photographer in her area who does amazing work. I love her photography. It’s gorgeous! I have nothing bad to say about the photographer. Not a single thing. She’s terrific!

But this particular photographer has a very romantic, soft style and Leigh isn’t a particularly “romantic, soft” person. She and Dan are fun and playful and bright and energetic.

So when you look at Leigh and Dan’s wedding photos – while they are beautiful photos, they’re very romantic and snuggly and they don’t really “fit” Leigh and Dan. When I saw the photos, there was a huge disconnect for me, knowing Leigh in real life. And, shocker . . . Leigh was also disappointed with her wedding photos.

The moral of that sad story is to try to see yourself in the photos. Hiring a photographer who has a vintage feel to their work when you are a modern gal (or guy) is just a another recipe for disaster at the end of the day. If you aren’t sure, ask to see more photos from a photographer if you aren’t getting a good enough sense of their scope of work and style.

Ask to see a whole wedding so you aren’t just seeing one amazing photo from each wedding. Ask them about their style, how they describe it, what they are trying to capture.

Personality

Meet with a photographer before you hire them to see if their personality fits with yours. Are you a very silly person, like me, who likes to laugh and have a good time? Then maybe you don’t want to hire a wedding photographer who is reserved and stuffy. And vice versa.

Your wedding photographer often ends up being the one person you are with the most on your wedding day – from getting ready to your final exit at the end of the night. You don’t want to spend it with someone who makes you uncomfortable or unhappy all day long.

Photos/Digital Files/Albums

EVERYONE wants the digital files from their wedding. I totally, absolutely, one hundred and fifty thousand percent agree that you should have them. And some photographers include the digital files in their packages. I do because I can’t imagine not having them.

But, and you knew that was coming. I am willing to bet that more times than not, if you only get those digital files, they sit on a disk (yikes, let’s hope not) or flash drive or hard drive in a drawer or on your computer and never see the light of day. What’s the point then?

I believe the BEST way to preserve your investment in those beautiful memories is to have them printed in an album. Something you can take out and show your family, friends, your children someday. I promise you that you will not regret spending the money on a wedding album. You will treasure it. It will be the one item you’d want to grab if your house was on fire (God forbid).

Hire a Professional

My last point is circling back to hiring a PROFESSIONAL wedding photographer.

Hire someone who has experience actually photographing a wedding. Weddings are chaotic, stressful, there are multiple moving pieces, people and personalities to juggle all day long. It’s insanity. I personally love it and thrive in that environment. But not everyone does.

A lot of photographers hate shooting weddings. A professional will have high-quality equipment AND backup equipment, a business license, liability insurance (again, in case, God forbid something should happen) and they’ll know what they’re doing. Important for many, many reasons but most importantly on the day of your wedding, will ease your mind because you’ll know they got this!

And now for finishing the article, I’ll share with you a special treat. Just a few horrible photos from my own wedding in 1997. Ugh, I can’t believe I’m doing this.

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This is the most absurd photo in the history of photography. Seriously. What is happening here? My husband is sitting at a piano – which he has never played before in his entire life – and I’m pretending to be excited.

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Lighting? Do you notice I look like I want to hurt the photographer?

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Good Lord . . . there is NOTHING to say about this one. It’s just BAD BAD BAD.

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