It can be insanely stressful to go from the euphoria of being recently engaged to suddenly landing in the state of “Oh, Sh*tsville” cause you realized you now have to plan an ENTIRE wedding. Not only do you have to pick a date, find a venue, book a wedding photographer, and choose a menu, you have to continue to have a life in the meantime. Yikes, right?!
BUT – taking tiny little actions steps can help to combat total overwhelm and chaos. So if you’re in the midst of planning your upcoming wedding, or have started thinking about it, then having some guidance is a major bonus.
Below, I’ve outlined 5 easy steps to take when looking for your wedding photographer. They can also apply to searching for literally any wedding vendor, like florists, DJs, caterers, you name it! You can also follow these 5 steps if you’re searching for a photographer for your elopement or couples session. So, grab a glass of wine (or coffee, whatever works!), grab a notepad, and start making those baby steps toward your chillest wedding day ever!
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOU
Have a Clear Vision
Talk to your partner and have a very clear vision of what you’re both looking for on your wedding day. Are you having a large, elegant, white-tablecloth affair at a ritzy venue? Are you keeping it casual and getting married at your family’s lakeside camp, complete with bbq and campfire? Or are you ditching allll traditions, renting a camper van, and wearing the boho dress of your dreams while you elope on the top of a mountain? Knowing what lights your soul on fire will help guide you into not only having the wedding of your dreams, but also in having FUN planning it.
It helps if you and your partner are on the same page, so create separate Pinterest boards with things that catch your eye, and then sit down together and scroll through each others while you snuggle and have some wine or coffee. If you and your partner have completely different ideas of what your wedding day should look like, then it’s easier to look at visuals and give feedback than it is to expect the other person to read your mind. Will your S.O. know what a “romantic, boho sand teepee” is supposed to be? A picture is worth a thousand words, and once they see it, they’ll be able to tell you if they like it or not. Ya feel me?
Know your priorities
On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being least important and 10 being more important than your firstborn, what value would you assign to your wedding photos? If you’re at a 2, then chances are your priorities lie in other areas, like having an epic DJ or a palace for a venue. But if you’re bordering on an 8, 9, 10 – then likely you know that photos are the only part of the wedding day that live on after the fact, and that without them it’s hard to remember all of the little moments and the details.
That being said, if you really don’t give a hoot about having the world’s most epic wedding photos, then your budget will be prioritized accordingly and it’ll make it easier to find someone who fits your needs. If photos are the be all and end all of your wedding planning (as they should be – just sayin 😉 ), then it makes sense to leave more room in your budget for photography (than say, life-sized papier mache flamingoes situated at the entrance to your ceremony site). Once you have a budget and know what’s important to you in terms of capturing your memories, it will make your search much easier.
Be a stalker
Ok, don’t go all Joe in “You” and actually be a creepy stalker (and is it just me, or did you actually like Joe better than Dan Humphrey even though he was creepy AF?! Just me? Cool cool cool…). But seriously – do some research. Google different phrases based on that Clear Vision you created earlier. If you’re down to elope in the mountains, then search “west coast elopement photographer” or “adventurous wedding photographer”. If you want to get married in a nearby palace, try searching “elegant wedding photographer” or “timeless (your location here) wedding photos”.
Once you find a few you like, make a list, and then read all about them. Their about pages, Instagram bios, and Facebook reviews will tell you if you’re likely to get along, and a lot of photographers also list starting prices on their sites, or send out full pricing guides once you inquire.
If I’m looking for someone to provide a service to me that isn’t product based, I follow these steps, and once I’ve done my research online and found a few potentials that I might like, I stalk them on IG and if they’re fun and I love their personality, I’m sold. It’s not about the cheapest or the closest or the best rated – it’s about who I will personally connect with and have the best experience with. If they also fit your style and are in your budget range, BONUS!!!
Whether or not you’re able to meet your photographer in person, it’s so important to be able to chat with the person you’re going to be spending the majority of your wedding day with. Cause trust me, you’re gonna want to mesh well with the person who’s at your side all day. If you found someone local, arrange a meeting so that you can have a drink or a coffee together and get to know each other.
If you fell in love with a photographer who is NOT in your city or surrounding area, then make plans to do a FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts chat with them. There are tons of options to make connecting easy, and it helps to feel comfortable and confident in someone that you’re going to be investing your hard earned dollars on.
Once you’ve done all of the following:
figured out the vibe you want for your wedding day,
prioritized all of the details and decided on a photography budget,
done your research online and on social media,
and have had a meeting with your potential photographer,
then the only thing left to do is book and pay your deposit!
BUT make sure that it’s going to be a collaborative effort. That means that while you’re providing a Pinterest board and some general ideas to your photographer, they’re also going to give you ideas based on location, style, lighting, etc. It’s incredibly helpful to maintain a good rapport from the time you book until well after the wedding day, so this is the last piece of the puzzle to fit to make sure that you can keep communication open during your planning.
If you get the sense that your desired photographer will make your life easier, help with certain aspects of planning and logistics, and basically be more of a BFF or bridesmaid than the hired help, then you’re golden!
I hope this helps to give you a bit of guidance when starting your search, because it can seem overwhelming when you have a whole wedding to plan! If you’ve heard of any other helpful tips (or know from experience!), drop them in the comments below – I’d love to hear them!
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