How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer

My friends Andrew and Tianna are guest posting today!!! I love featuring other creatives and hope you will find their words helpful and honest. Enjoy!!!

With all the many amazing options out there how do you choose your wedding photographer? Every photographer runs their business differently from the products they offer, to how they interact with and pose their clients, to their package pricing, and the style of their work. But ultimately its in your hands to find the photographer who meets your needs and wants for you wedding day best. Here are what I consider the most important tips you should consider in helping you decide who will photography your special day. 

1. Style: This (I HOPE) is the main reason why people choose me to be their wedding photographer. Do you like their work? Do you love their posing and the emotions evoked when you see their portfolio? If you see mostly sun flare photos note that that probably means that is an integral part of that photographer's style and so a lot of your photos may have sun flare.  Do the subjects tend to be looking at the camera or more engaged in each other? Photography is an art form that is directly built into the photographer. If you prefer one over the other this may play a part in who you choose!

2. Personality: Do you get along well? For a lot of your vendors, you will only see them when you book them or have appointments discussing your details. (And MAYBE when they are dropping off things for your big day) Your wedding photographer is with you ALL DAY LONG. It's important that your personalities jive and you enjoy being around them. How awkward would it be if you didn't actually like your wedding photographer but they were trying to elicit genuine lovey reactions from you?

3. Availability and Promptness: This may or may not be a a major factor for you but planning as a bride, it was for me! I'm SUPER prompt. As a wedding vendor I know brides have a million different plates they are trying to balance in order for their day to come together just right. So I make sure I answer my brides within a day (usually just within a few hours) because I know often that them making a major decision may be riding on my response, and I certainly don't want to hold them up or stress them out! So your wedding photographer should be prompt, not everyone can answer within a day or a few hours but I've heard horror stories about vendors who don't respond for weeks. Take note when you are communicating with your wedding photographer, how fast and in what manner do they respond?

4. Reviews: Check reviews of your photographer! While you should take everything with a grain of salt (both not so good and great glowing reviews) this will help access how others have responded and received services from this photographer. It takes a bit of effort to go and make a review so remember if these people really went out of their way to make these comments that means something!

5. See full wedding albums OR a full digital wedding gallery. REMEMBER a photographer's website is the best of the best and their favorite work. Make sure you see a photographer's full and most recent wedding gallery. It would be great to see a wedding that is similar to your own. If you have an indoor wedding make sure you see an indoor wedding and the same with an outdoor wedding.  If you have an indoor wedding make sure your photographer is good with flash because most likely the reception venue won't be perfectly lit. If you are having an outdoor wedding you want to make sure your photographer is comfortable with natural light and possibly harsh sunlight if your venue doesn't have a ton of shade.

6. Consider what YOU want to do with your photos. Some photographers only include digitals, some give the option for albums on top of digitals, and some ONLY do albums or prints. If you are looking at wanting to be able to share the images with your family and friends, an album only photographer may not be for you. A lot of people now use their images for invitations and thank you cards so you want to be sure you can either order those items from your photographer (and that you like the products they provide) OR that you will receive the digitals so you can make those yourselves.

7. Professionalism: This may or may not be a big factor for you but professionalism can be quite the criteria and potentially affect a lot of areas. For example if you happen to find a friend that has a photography business on the side great, BUT if this isn't this person's full time job you may run into a few roadblocks or find that they don't have all the "kinks" worked out. As a full time photographer I tell my wedding clients that their images will take 4-6 weeks and usually end up finishing around 3 weeks. I've heard stories where couples don't receive their images before six months which is understandable! If photography is something that person does on the side they may not be able to take the time to dedicate to getting the images done sooner. Or maybe you happen to have a bruise or blemish that your hair and makeup artist was unable to hide from the camera. Does your photographer have the equipment or post processing program to be able to handle hiding such blemish? This may not deter you, but all that to say, be informed, know what you are getting into!

8. Price: Let's be honest, though we all wish that money wasn't a factor it certainly can be. I think the best thing to remember here is to pick a photographer who meets all of the above criteria and then let it come down to budget. You definitely don't want to put price at the top and then end up landing on a photographer who mostly fits your style criteria but who's personality you don't jive with. Speaking from experience it's no fun to be that married lady on the plane to her honeymoon replaying the wedding day and those things you wished you could change. One of the number one regrets of brides is not investing in the vendors they REALLY wanted. Most photographers have payment plans! Just ask!

 Love, Andrew & Tianna

Wedding photos: Andrew & Tianna

My Ideal Couple

It's always good to have goals! As a wedding planner, I have a list of certain qualities I look for in my prospective couples. If they don't have 'em, we most likely will not move forward. Call me crazy, but even though I want my couples to choose me, I also want to choose them. This wedding planning thing is a two way street, ya know!?

So what does my ideal couple look like?

They PLAY! I am far from stuffy and bring out my inner child whenever the opportunity presents itself. My couples MUST have a sense of humor...cause I'm gonna tell them a lot of corny jokes.

Budget does not define them. I'm not saying they don't have a budget; having one is imperative. Whether their budget is $5000 or $65000, the elements they put into their wedding complement their personalities. Every dime they spend is intentional and contributes to the experience they want to have for their guests.

They allow me to take a load off their shoulders. I understand not every bride wants to let go of the reigns when it comes to planning. In fact, I LOVE having brides that want to be part of it all. But when it's showtime, I need them to let me do my job. In this case, my job is to provide them a stress-free wedding experience. She can turn off her urge to do everything and he will help his new Mrs. enjoy her day with friends and family.

We can be honest with each other. In the past, I have not be afraid to tell my brides when I don't agree with a choice she is making. Obviously, I use tact and usually only offer my advice if asked.

My couples are crazy in love with each other and will strive to make their marriage the best it can be. Through their marriage, they will become stronger as individuals AND as one unit. I'm all about real, lasting love. Whether they've been together 1 year or 7, their marriage is going to be a lifetime commitment.

They are all so different. I want diverse couples! My job would be boring if every wedding, bride, and groom were exactly the same. In fact, I get SO excited when an original idea is presented to me. BRING IT ON! Variety is the spice of life, right?

3 Reasons You Should HIRE a Wedding Planner

Today, I will explain why you should HIRE a wedding planner. (For the sake of saving my fingers from typing too many words, let's assume when I say "wedding planner" I also mean wedding coordinator. They are similar, yet different, but you need at least one of them.) Please understand that I am not downing anyone who had their aunt Martha be their mistress of ceremonies. Many successful weddings have been executed by a family friend. On the flip side, the wedding industry is and has been changing. More and more brides are hiring an entirely professional team of vendors. Why should it be any different with the one pulling them all together?

3 reasons you should hire a wedding planner:

  1. If your team of vendors are all professionals, they will expect a professional contact. Photographers appreciate being sent a timeline well in advance of the wedding day. The dj will thank your wedding planner for telling him how to pronounce the tricky names on your bridal party roster. Your caterer doesn't want to have to chase down you or your mom during the reception to ask if you're ready to cut the cake. If you are willing to invest in a pricey photographer, a top tier band, the best caterer in town, and maybe even a photo booth, why won't you treat yourself to a qualified professional planner?
  2. Your professional wedding planner has made investments. It takes a lot of education and research to keep up with an ever-changing industry. The wedding biz is no different. Find someone who knows the trends, the people, and the affordable must-haves to make your wedding as seamless and memorable as possible.
  3. Things will go wrong. Does the person in charge know how to keep a cool head and problem solve? If the cake doesn't show up, what will they do? If it rains, will you, the bride, be the one to communicate to the stream of guests that the ceremony site has been changed? If your photographer can't find that last family member for the family picture, who will hunt them down? Hire someone that will be prepared for the worst, just in case it happens. Hire someone that has more than likely had to deal with these situations before.

Basically, hiring a wedding planner will take a burden off your shoulders. Don't let the best day of your life be filled with headache and work. Most people will spend at least twice what I did on my wedding, and even I had a wedding planner. Do yourself a favor, reach out to one.

Hey, I know a great one here!

Daytona May Photography  And yes, I'll even set up and clear the chair for your garter toss. ;)  

Daytona May Photography
And yes, I'll even set up and clear the chair for your garter toss. ;)