Choosing the right wedding photographer is an exciting and important part of your wedding planning. Once the last of the wedding cake has been eaten and the champagne drunk your wedding photos (and video if you have one) are among the few things you’ll have as a tangible keepsake of your day, so it’s important to get it right.

Each photographer will have their own style of shooting, editing and way of telling your wedding story on the day so do your homework. Look at lots of photographer websites, their about pages, blogs, galleries and testimonials. See what images draw you in and try to understand what it is that you like about them. Good photography should speak to you and make you feel something.

Here’s my top tips for choosing your photographer.

Style

There’s many different styles of photography to choose from so this is the best place to start your search.

Do you want your photographer to capture the day as it unfolds in a fly on the wall documentary way or do you want a more formal and highly stylized approach with lots of posing and traditional photos? You may be drawn to alternative and quirky styles, or perhaps you love light, bright and airy images or dark contrasty ones. It’s important that you choose a photographer who can deliver the style that you love. Asking a photographer to shoot in a way that is very different from what you see in their portfolio won’t make either of you happy.

Once you have decided on the style you love then look for photographers that specifically shoot in that style; their websites, blogs and social media feeds are all great places to check. Then make a shortlist of two or three.

Personality

The next stage before booking is to arrange to meet them, in person if you can, or if not via a Skype call. Personality is a big thing to consider. Choosing and hiring a wedding photographer shouldn’t all come down to their work and how good they are technically. You could hire the best photographer in the world but if you don’t feel relaxed around them or at ease, it’ll be reflected in your photos.

Ask questions, go through their work either by looking at sample albums or galleries. How do they come across? Do you get on with them? Do you feel comfortable with them? Remember that they’ll be with you most likely all day, so it’s really important that you feel relaxed and happy having them around.

Discuss the Details

It’s important to openly discuss what you want from your photographer and to understand what you are getting. Give them lots of information about the style and vibe of your wedding day as this will give everyone a sense of whether you are both a good match. Find out how experienced they are in weddings, how they work on the day, what happens if it rains, and chat about timings.

Ask to see a full wedding gallery, preferably one at a similar venue and similar time of year to when your wedding day is going to be. It’s very different photographing a wedding in the height of summer with lots of natural light to photographing a winter wedding in a dark barn. You should feel confident that the photographer you choose can cope with any situation on your wedding day.

Budget

This one is the big one and initially it may come as a bit of a surprise when you first start your search.

For the photographer, photography is an expensive business with many hours worked before, during and after a wedding. Yes, there’s also very expensive equipment etc. but wedding photography isn’t just about having a nice camera. With an experienced wedding photographer, you are also paying for the photographer’s art and skill which has been developed and honed over many years. Weddings are very different from any other form of photography, it’s pressurised, time restricted and you only have one chance to get it right so having experience in shooting weddings is a very good thing.

Photographer prices can vary wildly but it often comes down to the level of experience, the number of hours they will be with you and what products they include in the cost. As a rough guide you should expect to pay 10-15% of your total wedding budget on your photographer. This is not set in stone and I’ve had couples spend more of their budget on booking me as their photography was a top priority for them but for others it may not be as high up the list. Remember though, your wedding photos will increase in value as the years go by so you may want to consider forgoing some of those expensive details that you’ve been planning in order to afford your favourite photographer!

Get Booking!

Wedding photographers tend to get booked about a year (sometimes more) in advance so when you have found the photographer that you want then don’t leave it too long before you book. Most photographers work on a first come first served basis and the months between May and September can get booked very quickly.

So basically, it comes down to these things, do your research, meet and connect, look at full weddings and if the budget allows go ahead and book!  Once you have found the photographer that is right for you just relax and trust them to do what they do best. Enjoy it, it’ll be a wonderful day!