Whenever we make any decision in our business, we think back to when we were the bride and groom making big choices. We like to funnel everything through the “what would we want” thought process. One of the first steps in wedding planning is determining your overall budget. As if that isn’t tricky enough, then you need to decide how to split that all up and how much you should delegate to each area. If you are anything like me and follow a million wedding hashtags on Instagram, you probably have so many ideas, and now it’s a matter of choosing what is all going to be a part of the day and how to budget for it.
When Brian and I were engaged, we decided the number one thing to put money towards was photography. This was before we were photographers, so I’m not being biased here ;). The thought process behind it was everything else is one day, but the images is how we will hold onto that forever. There was no taking chances and hoping for the best, we wanted to make sure we had a quality, reliable photographer that would give us images we loved and was someone we would enjoy spending our entire wedding day with. I could chat with you all day about all other things wedding planning, but to keep this focused, I will stick with just talking about photography for this post.
Brian and I realized quickly that looking at the value of the photographer- what you get for your money spent, is more important than finding a great deal. Even though I am the queen of good deals, there are areas of life I do prioritize value.
Photographers that charge in the $3,000+ range, are well established, have quality work, and incredible client reviews will bring you more value than a photographer charging $1500 that is newer to weddings, still working on having consistent, quality work and doesn’t have all the gear needed in “what if” situations.
When you do an online search or head to social media to search for a local wedding photographer (or pretty much any wedding vendor), things get overwhelming in a hurry! It is an over saturated market, and at least for photography, there isn’t much required to get into it. There is no test and certification- literally anyone can say they are a wedding photographer, which is terrifying. I know that thought probably just scared you, but don’t worry, that is why I am writing this blog post. I want to help make sure you find a photographer, and other wedding vendors, that are going to bring you the best value for your money.
The following questions are great for you to look over with your fiancé and decide what you are comfortable with, and most of all are a guide as you head into consultations with vendors. I think the key to consultations is making sure you are a great fit for each other and click, but it is also your chance to interview them and make sure your wedding images and memories are in safe hands. I know when I was the bride, I put so much thought and effort into everything, but at the end of the day what mattered most was Brian was there (I suppose that was most important…), the pastor showed up so we could actually get married, and that we would have those images that we still have hanging on our walls and in our wedding album .
- How long have you been a photographer?
- Does your camera have dual card slots (a memory card could corrupt so you need to make sure your images are going on more than one card)?
- How do you backup your images?
- How do we receive our images and do we have the rights to print them ourselves?
- Do you have back ups for all your gear? This includes lighting, because a reception would be hard to photograph without it.
- Do you charge travel fees?
- What is something horrible you have had happen at a wedding and how did you handle it?
- Can we see a full wedding gallery?
- Are you insured? (Make sure they have liability insurance, and it isn’t just insurance to cover their gear.)
- What is your payment schedule like?
- Do you have a contract and can we review it? (Always, always make sure you have everything in a contract.)
- What if you have an emergency or are sick the day of my wedding?
- What if we need more time coverage the day of the event?
- How long until I get my images? (Make sure this is covered in your contract too.)
I know when you aren’t in this industry, it is hard to even know what to ask. I hope this gave you a lot of great thinking points on value versus cost as you plan your wedding. It is hard to know where to make cuts, but beyond your love for each other, your images are what you still get to have when the wedding is all over. There is no do-over. I hope these questions help you whittle down your list and find the absolute vendors for you and your big day.