How early in the wedding-planning process should I book a wedding photographer?
The timing of booking a wedding photographer will depend upon several factors. First consider what time of year you’re getting married. If your wedding will be during the most pleasant months in your area, during a holiday, or on another popular date, you may want to consider booking your photographer as early as 12 to 18 months ahead of time. If photography is very important to you, you will also want to book as early as possible even if your date does not fall into one of those busy periods. If you have a favorite wedding photographer in mind before you have booked your wedding venue, you can call the photographer to confirm his or her availability before signing the contract with the venue. In any event, it's in your best interest to have your wedding photographer booked at least 10 months in advance.
What should I look for in a wedding photographer?
I tell brides and grooms that the number one thing to look for in their wedding photographer is personality. The photographer is probably the only vendor who will be with you all day. They will be mingling with your friends and family all day and night. They will be photographing everyone. So, when you are meeting them, you are checking them out for comfort. See how you feel around them. Can you picture them with your family and friends? Could they be your friend pretty easily? This is a very important component. When they are photographing you, you are apt to feel more comfortable in front of a friend than a "photographer”.
The second component to finding a wedding photographer is when looking at their work; make sure that you really connect with it. When looking at their albums, try to envision yourself in the pictures. If you can do this, and they seem like they might ‘fit in’, you may have found someone special for you. One key here is to understand that we do not all just take photos of people. We all have styles, approaches, and different ways of doing things. Make sure you walk through your wedding day with the photographers you are interviewing and ask them how they might approach different issues throughout the day. A professional should have great answers for you on a wide variety of topics that you bring up.
The last component is price. The photographer you choose should be within your budget, otherwise you might be wasting your time meeting with them. However, some brides underestimate the cost of photography at first, and have to make adjustments once they see what it costs. The bridal magazines seem to perpetuate myths about the cost of photography. However, in the end, price is a component of the decision, but it should not be the main factor. If you find someone who really fits the above, but is $1,000 more than you budgeted, maybe you can cut back on other things. After all, the photography lasts forever.