We all know how stressful a wedding can be. Either you've been married and know exactly what I'm talking about, or you're in the middle of planning and you'll soon find out. Don't get me wrong...there are so many fun and exciting things in the wedding planning season. Picking out your venue, wedding dress shopping, cake tasting...all those fun things are memories you'll forever remember.
If you're at the beginning stages of planning, then this blog is for YOU!
You may be thinking..."Where do I even begin??"
The good news is, we are here to walk you through one of the most difficult decisions when it comes to wedding planning...PICKING OUT YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER!
While photographing many wedding in Pensacola, Florida, we have heard some pretty crazy stories about wedding vendors. Let me tell you...DO YOUR RESEARCH. You wont regret it.
We've made a list of potential questions to ask your photographer in the process of finding your dream wedding photographer. Whether it's the Phocus team or not, we want to help guide you in the deciding process, because reality is...your wedding photos are irreplaceable and priceless. Once your wedding is over, that's all that left.
I can't tell you how many people have come to us and said these words after their wedding...
"I wish we would have just hired you, because we hate our wedding photos" or "Will you guys let us re-stage some of our couple photos from our wedding day, because ours didn't turn out?"
Don't be those people! I promise you wont regret it.
My first advice on the list is...
Pick a date and book your wedding venue FIRST.
Just because you've picked a date does not mean, that will 100% end up being your date. If you have your heart set on a venue. Book that venue FIRST! You may decide to book it and that date is unavailable, so switching to a different date may be your only option. Once you have that date and venue set, your next step should be your wedding photographer!
We always say to book vendors such as your venue and photographer first. If you have your heart set on a specific one and they're booked on your date, it's going to be a sad day. Wedding vendors like caterers, cake, and florist are able to do multiple weddings, so book those right after!
So let's start with how to find your potential wedding photographer.
1) TRY NOT TO HIRE A FRIEND.... OF A FRIEND....OF A FRIEND TO SHOOT YOUR WEDDING.
I repeat, TRY NOT to hire a friend of the family or a friend's friend to shoot your wedding
(I'll explain why).
You remember how I said we get clients that come back and say, "We should have just hired you"? These are those people. I cannot tell you how many people have come back regretting it...for these reasons...
*Friends can tend not to know the boundary between professionalism and being a friend on the wedding day.
I've been to a wedding where it was time for the first dance and the photographer was just sitting at a table chatting with friends...WHILE THE COUPLE WAS HAVING THEIR FIRST DANCE. I can't tell you how much I cringed, knowing that there were no photos captured of that moment.
When you hire a professional, they are paid to be there, to focus on you and to do a job....not sitting and chatting.
*You may not be as comfortable with your family shooting on the day.
As a wedding photographer, we do get all those beautiful photos that you dream of having, BUT we also like to get some fun or maybe even spicy photos. A few years ago, we met with this amazing couple. During their engagement session, they had SO much chemistry. They were flirty, couldn't keep their hands off each other and just had the vibes. It was just the two of them and me. When the wedding day came around, it was completely different. Their videographer was an uncle of the bride. Throughout the day, I could tell there was hesitation. She wasn't as comfortable showing any affection towards her groom when the uncle was around. And unfortunately, you could see that through the video and photos.
*Let your family ATTEND the wedding.
I've aways had this mental idea of " Oh I cant wait to photography my "friend/family's" wedding". Truth is, there's a big different in working at and attending a wedding. If the father of the bride is photographing the wedding, there are so many moments he won't be able to be a part of. Yes, he will be able to CAPTURE them, but there's a difference in capturing a moment and being IN a moment. Let your family be IN those moments.
2) DO YOUR RESEARCH!
Don't be afraid to pick up that computer and do your research. Check out your potential photographers work, website, instagram and even their reviews. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but so is a review. Read reviews, look for issues multiple couples are mentioning and go from there.
3) MAKE SURE YOU LOVE THEIR STYLE
Photographers are like chefs. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. is different. We all have different styles, ways of shooting and different personalities. If you like dark and mood, go find a dark and moody photographer. If you like bright and airy photos, go find a bright and airy photographer. There are sooooo many photographers out there to choose from and it's okay. Last thing you want to do is hire and photographer with the style you're not in love with.
4) MAKE SURE YOU'RE COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
As wedding photographers, we work with many different types of people. I will say this....make sure you're comfortable with who you choose. Out of the say 10 hours of our wedding day, you'll probably see your photographer the most. So make sure it's someone you don't mind being around. Does this photographer help guide you through the day or does he "let you do you"?
We've heard stories of couples hiring a photographer that had no guidance whatsoever. When their couple photos came around he said " Go ahead...do what you do." As professional photographer, it's our job to guide you into moments and poses (candid and uncandid) that creates gorgeous wedding photos.
5) ASK ABOUT PRICES AND PACKAGING
There are so many different questions to ask you photographer about this subject. I've narrowed down a few just for this blog. Not all photographers are the same (as we've chatted about above). Every wedding photographer offers different things. Some offer all day coverage, engagement sessions, online images, photo booth and other things. One photographer may offer packages around 3k while another is 5k. EVERY.ONE.IS.DIFFERENT. I've listed out some of the most important questions about packages and pricing below.
*What is your deposit to save the date?
Most every professional photographer requires a deposit to save the date. If you have your heart set on a specific photographer and you have a consult soon with them...bring that deposit and finalize your dream photographer. Last thing you want to hear is that your date is no longer available.
*What all services do you offer?
You may be in the search for a photographer AND videographer. If you book two separate ones not knowing your photographer may offer both, you might miss out. Don't be afraid to ask!
*Can I customize my package?
When photographing hundreds of weddings, we typically have an idea of what most brides may want on the wedding day. Sometimes, we get brides that may want this and not this...and that's totally fine...with us. Not all photographers are the same, so make sure you ask before hand!
*What is your refund/cancellation policy?
Every photographer has a refund policy. Some have no refunds, some refund only 50% and some fully refund. It's just up to the photographer.
**When most photographers require deposits, those deposits go towards saving the date. Once that deposit is paid, photographers then turn away other potential clients for that date, so be understanding when it comes to deposits.
6) HOW LONG UNTIL I RECEIVE MY PHOTOS?
There is such a wide variety of answers to this question. Some photographers take weeks or even months to get your photos back. Asking your photographer helps you prepare, so you're not checking your email every day for three months waiting on all your wedding photos. Just remember, being a wedding photographer isn't just snapping a photo on your wedding day. There is soooo much that goes into editing your photos. So, be patient with your photographer. It takes time to make your photos absolutely perfect for you!
7) WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU GET SICK ON MY WEDDING DAY?
Asking this question is very important. What happens if your photographer gets sick the week of your wedding or twists an ankle the night before? Knowing that IF something does happen, your photographer is prepared so you don't have to worry about your photographer bailing on your big day.
8) WHAT IS YOUR ATTIRE ON THE WEDDING DAY?
I honestly don't even know why this has to be a question, but apparently it does. I've heard and seen photographers showing up in some of the craziest outfits. If your photographer is up at the front of the ceremony site, the last thing you want is them distracting guests from you two! Don't be afraid to ask what they will be wearing!
When looking for a wedding photographer, these are some great questions to ask. Don't be afraid to ask your photographer for any questions you may have. That's what we're here for!
We wish you the very best in your engagement season!
If you need any help, feel free to reach out!