Planning a wedding can be a time consuming and stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are 10 steps that can make the process of selecting a wedding photographer (or any wedding vendor for that matter) less stressful.
1. Plan Early.
The best time to begin the selection of a wedding photographer is after your wedding ceremony and venues have been confirmed. The months of April through October are the most popular months for weddings. Wedding photographers will frequently book these months a year or more in advance.
2. Define your needs and be an informed buyer.
Your wedding photographs will be the most lasting and most tangible remembrances of your wedding day, long after the wedding dress has been stored and the last of the wedding cake has been eaten. Remember, you are in control of the products you want. Know in advance, what your tentative wedding budget is, how much time you would like your wedding photographer to spend at your wedding, and the deliverable products you expect from your wedding photographer. Having this information identified will help your wedding photographer prepare an estimate which addresses your specific needs.
3. Find photos that really appeal to you.
It is important that your wedding photographer is aware of the type of photos which really appeal to you. Find photos that you really like, and pin them on your Pinterest board. Do Google searches and save the links for photos that you love, your photographer will love you for doing this.
4. Find photographers who can consistently provide you with the type of photos that really appeal to you.
After Step 3, and after to visiting wedding photography websites, you will have an idea of photographers who’s “style” really appeals to you. Without looking at price, rate the photographers in order. A list of 10 to 20 photographers is sufficient. Avoid “shotgun” requests for quotations. You should only submit price quotation request to those photographers that you are serious about hiring.
5. Communicate effectively when sending your requests for quotation.
Communication is a two way street. Your photographer will appreciate knowing exactly what you want so that an accurate price quotation can be provided to you. The following information should be included in any request for quotation that you send:
- The wedding date, wedding venue, and reception venue (obviously)
- Number of people in the wedding party
- Number of expected guests at both the wedding and reception
- The amount of photographic coverage you are seeking. Photographic coverage includes the amount of time, and the number of photographers you would like present at your event.
- Your tentative budget.
- The specific products you want from your photographer. It is standard practice for photographers to provide digital copies and copyright release of your photos. Give careful consideration to the purchase of prints, a print book, or wedding album.
- Phone number and e-mail address
Providing the information above will assist your wedding photographer in preparing an accurate bid. It’s always greatly appreciated if you can tell your prospective photographer that you received their bid, and when you intend to make a decision. It’s also appreciated when you inform all of photographers submitting bids if they were not the selected photographer. This should prevent follow up e-mails.
Several websites that brides use when planning their weddings make it easy to send robo e-mails to collect bid information. The problem with the shotgun approach is that it that the canned e-mail is missing a lot of information that photographers need to provide you with an accurate price quotation. There is nothing wrong with using a shotgun approach, but please provide the above information in your request for quotation. It will save you a lot of confusion when evaluating the bids.
6. Select your top choices, based on your budget and the photographers availability.
During the selection process, you may need to make some compromises if your top choice for a wedding photographer is outside of your budget. Even if your first choice is outside of your budget, it may be worthwhile to re-contact your top choices. Many photographers will do their best to work within your budget. Also, ask if a photographer has “A La Carte” pricing. A La Carte Pricing allows you to specify EXACTLY what you want, without all of the add-ons that you may not necessarily want.
7. Arrange a face to face meeting with your top choices.
Most photographers will be happy to meet with you in person to learn more about you and your wedding, answer any questions you might have about wedding photography in general, and to share additional samples of their work with you. After the face to face meeting, you will have a better idea of whether you “click” together. A photographer can also be a valuable resource when planning the schedule for your wedding day and for helping you plan the logistics.
8. Discuss the details.
Know the who, what, when, where, and how.
9. Review the contract/agreement.
The wedding contract/agreement should be very specific on the schedule, the responsibilities of the photographer, the products delivered, the rights of the client and the rights of the photographer. Pay special attention to “ force majeure” (Acts of God) and cancellation provisions.
10. Book your photographer.
After the signing the contract/agreement, and placing a retainer or deposit, your date is confirmed.
Although the tips recommended above may seem complicated, they are meant to make the process of selecting a wedding vendor easier, less stressful, and more efficient.