Michael Kofteros

Freelance writer and author Troy Lambert is back with us today to share his insight into wedding planning, from the groom’s eye view. If you missed his other posts, you can read them here and here. Enjoy!

Choosing a wedding photographer can be truly challenging. There are ton of things to consider, including price, quality, and availability. Once we booked the venue and my fiance selected and paid for her dress, we were ready to work on some of the other vendors we would use on our big day.

So we went to work on finding a photographer and a videographer. Besides the people we knew personally with photography and videography businesses (some couples do both, and some do one or the other), I set up a Google search string: Wedding Photography Boise, Idaho. There were five pages, with about 100 results. I did the same with videography. Some of the results overlapped, and some were new. Lots of choices. Fun. Then, when browsing other things, we found another photographer on Craigslist who wasn’t on Google. Nice portfolio, a style we liked, and a reasonable price. Yay! Except she was booked on our date already. Bummer.

So we started the sort. We used a number of criteria, and set aside the fact that we knew some people. Because even in that small group, quality ranged from good to fantastic, and prices ranged from low to “Oh my God I need a third job.” These are the things we considered.

Read the full post after the cut!

Budget

When I wrote before about venue, this was early in the list as well. When planning a wedding, it always is. Surveys show that couples usually go over budget by 50-100% even when paying for themselves. This comes from two errors: first they underestimate what services will actually cost or secondly they forget to include vital items in their budget.

There are ways to expand your budget, and many couples including us, turn to crowdfunding to help pay expenses. A wedding much like running a small business for short period of time: it’s a startup venture involving a merger. You’ll have to decide if crowdfunding is right for you. and while some people think it is tacky, more couples who are paying for their own ceremony are doing it all the time.

We avoided sites not intended for business or charity, but instead specifically geared toward couples raising money for their weddings. (You can check out our HoneyFund here.)

However you create your budget, or how large or small it is, professional planners say you should set aside 10-12% of a wedding budget for wedding photography and videography. Keep in mind, this is the record you will have of your big day. Preserving that record, and doing it well, should be high on any couple’s priority list. Once you set a dollar amount based on percentage, stick with it.

Photo Credit: Author

Photographer Style

Each photographer has their own style, just as each writer does. Every couple has different tastes, and often the members of the couple have different tastes as well. But don’t just go on price: look at the pictures the photographer has taken. Do you like their style? Do they take more formal poses or more casual? Can they do both?

As a part of this, how much of the day is the photographer willing to be a part of? How much do you want them to be? Most charge by the hour, or give an estimate for a certain number of hours on the day of your wedding. If they do take more casual photos, how do you like what moments they chose to capture?

Remember, this is all about preserving memories. Just because one photographer puts you under budget does not mean you want to have them shoot your wedding.

Let me add here that although I am talking generally about photography, the same principles apply to videography. Look at samples, and picture you and your spouse in those scenes or at least that style, on your wedding day. If you can comfortably do so, you have a fit. Almost.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Reviews and Recommendations

Look at online reviews. Call couples who have used them, whether you know them or not, and ask questions. How easy were they to work with? Did they shoot what the bride and groom wanted? Were they happy with the results? Did the photographer stay in budget, or tack on extra charges at the end?

Remember to take online reviews with a grain of salt. Some could be internet trolls or revenge reviews. When you do finally contact your potential photographer, don’t be afraid to ask about them. If they personally attack the reviewer, you might want to reconsider your choice.

Use websites like Wedding Lovely to look over their directories of services available in your area. You can often find reviews and information on cost. A search on this site photography in Boise, Idaho yields three results in different price ranges. Check out yours here.

Finally, after the above steps, you’re ready to ask the big question.

Availability

Why do all the work to determine if a photographer fits your budget, you like their style, and if others recommend them before you see if they are available? Because it makes the most sense for them too: if they are available, but you can’t afford them or don’t like their style, both of you may have wasted time making some kind of a connection, and if they temporarily blocked out your date and you don’t end up booking them? At the least it leaves a bad taste in their mouth, especially if they were offered work in the meantime.

Second, photographers know each other, and often talk to each other. If they are not available, they can recommend someone else they know who has a similar style. (Be sure you do your own checking on recommendations too).

If they’ve shot enough weddings, they also know venues, caterers, and a host of others in the wedding scene. Don’t burn bridges and prove yourself an undesirable client, or the word may spread and either costs will go up, or worse vendors may refuse to work for you.

You’ve got to hire a photographer. One that is in your budget, matches your style, has received good reviews, and is available. You’ve still got more work to do, but you have one big, and one of the most important, items checked off your list.

Troy is an author, editor, and freelance writer who blogs by day and writes suspense thriller novels by night. He lives and works in Boise Idaho with his son, dog, and fiance. You can email him at [email protected], and all proceeds from book sales are an attempt to finance his wedding.

Other posts by Troy: