Alas, the dilemma of every bride-to-be; choosing a photographer to forever memorialize their wedding day. Here are Grand Lens Photography's top 5 tips to help make the process as painless as possible.
Ask absolutely anyone and everyone if they know a "good" wedding photographer. The majority of people get married in their lifetime (and the ones that don't surely know someone who did). Ask family, ask friends, ask wedding planners, ask other vendors (DJ, Florist, Caterer, etc.). Everybody knows somebody who knows a wedding photographer. The added bonus to this method is that you may get a better deal due to the more personal connection. Every penny saved in your wedding budget is worth the extra effort.
Know Your Budget (and what good wedding photographers cost!)
Not all couples know how much they can afford for a wedding photographer or even what a good wedding photographer charges for their services. Some wedding day photography packages can cost upwards of $8k! When sitting on your photography budget, you must be honest with yourself about exactly what you "need" and what you "want". Typically, you need your wedding to be documented, group pictures of key personnel, the ring exchange, first kiss, first dance, etc. Typical "wants" include wedding detail pictures (think that picture of your dress still hanging on the hanger), three hours worth of the guests dancing at the reception, etc. Good wedding photographers can cost a pretty penny. To trim the costs, stick to the "needs" column.
settle on a style
There are many types of styles, so we won't get into the details of each one. The major style players are documentary, traditional, fine art, and edgy/bold. Nothing ruins a couple's wedding photos faster than unmet expectations. If your style expectations of your wedding photographer are not clear, those documentary style photos you've always dreamt about will be replaced with more adventurous photos that will make you cringe (TRUST US, there's a difference!).
Confirm your photographers
This often-overlooked detail is arguably among the most important. Just because you see some beautiful wedding photos on the company website, does not necessarily mean the same photographer will be shooting your wedding. Photographer's styles vary greatly (see #3). Always confirm EXACTLY who will be on the other side of the lens on your wedding day.
schedule an engagement session
This is a very valuable technique. Engagement sessions are often relatively inexpensive (most photographers work cheap and try to sell you on themselves for the wedding *hint hint wink wink*). When you think you have settled on a wedding photographer, book them for an engagement session to make sure you like their work, they act professional, personalities mesh, and the services you paid for are rendered. This is an inexpensive test that can save you from a bad wedding day experience and a lifetime of poor quality wedding photographs.
In summary, get out and talk to people, know what you're willing to pay, know what style you're looking for, confirm and be guaranteed (by name) who your wedding photographer will be, and test drive before you buy. Keep these five tips in mind and you're on your way to choosing the perfect wedding photographer.