Questions to Ask Before Booking a Wedding Photographer

You’re in love. You’re ready to tie the knot. You’ve got the date picked out and you’ve reserved your venue. What’s next? It’s time to hire all the vendors for your event.

Photography is a big decision for your wedding day. Long after the cake has been eaten and the flowers have wilted,

your wedding photos will be the only lasting remembrance of your day.

When you choose a wedding photographer, it’s important to ask yourself some questions before signing a contract.

Can I see samples of the photographer’s work?
The photographer should have samples of their work on their website. These samples will usually not include a full wedding gallery, but selections of important moments and memorable images. If you would like to see a full wedding gallery, just ask the photographer and he or she will often be happy to show you one.

Does this photographers work match the kind of wedding I envision for myself?
Try to find a photographer whose samples look similar to what your wedding will be like. If you’re getting married outside, search for natural light photographers. If you’re getting married indoors, search for photographers who shoot with artificial light (a.k.a. flash). Most wedding photographers are comfortable shooting both, but it’s a good idea to ask.

Do I want to schedule engagement photos with this photographer also?
Oftentimes a photographer will offer a special discount to a couple who will book an engagement session along with a wedding. The couple can use images from the engagement session for save-the-date cards, for wedding announcements, or for shower invitations.

What are the terms of the photographer’s contract?
Make sure you read all the fine print and agree before signing. If you have any questions or concerns, ask the photographer but oftentimes the contract is set and will not be changed for individual terms and conditions.

How many hours of coverage do I want?
In most weddings, the photographer will be your only vendor to be with you from beginning to end. Photographers often capture pre-ceremony preparations and details, the ceremony itself, group portraits and candids, and the reception. Depending on your timeline, this can be a very long day! Most photographers will offer a set number of hours, such as 8 or 10. Many photographers also offer “all day coverage” which can vary from 10-14 hours. Some photographers also offer hourly coverage so you can customize exactly how long your photographer will stay. Keep in mind, that time is typically counted as continuous hours. For a “split day” – where the ceremony is in the morning and reception is in the evening – the photographer will still need to be paid for the gap time.

Do I have special photos that I’d like the photographer to capture?
I know you’ve been pinning wedding images on Pinterest for months.  You should check with your photographer to see if he or she is able to capture the images you have been envisioning. Every photographer has a very unique skill set, so it’s fair to ask them if they have the skills, equipment, and opportunity to get the photos you want. Likewise, be realistic about your expectations. If you want that picture of your wedding dress hanging up, do you have a special spot for it to hang? Do you have a special hanger for it (instead of the plastic hanger from the store)? Or, how about the cool sparkler exit – have you bought the sparklers and timed them for how long they will burn? Do you have enough time to get them all lit and walk past the guests? And does your venue allow sparklers? Communicate with your photographer about the ideas you have and he or she will be honest about whether or not those images are possible.

When will I see my images? And how will they be presented to me?
Photographers have different methods of presenting images to their clients: Some photographers offer online viewing, some photographers offer personal consultations, some photographers will mail a CD or USB to their clients. However you will see the images, make sure you understand the timeline for viewing and ordering products. Weddings result in a high number of images to sort through, so photographers need time to give adequate attention to the details of your day.

How many images should I expect to receive?
Every photographer shoots differently, and they might shoot thousands of images or maybe just a few hundred. It’s important to clarify with him or her how many images you can expect to see from your wedding day. Oftentimes you will not get a guaranteed minimum number of images, but it’s okay to ask for an estimated number to expect. Realize that the final number of images you receive will be dependent on the number of hours you have booked your photographer, as well as if there is one photographer working, or if there are two.

 What am I going to do with my wedding images?
Your wedding images are special and should be treated as such. On your 10th anniversary, or 25th or 50th, you won’t want to look back on your wedding day by inserting a flash drive into a computer and viewing the images on a laptop screen. Your wedding day images should be seen and enjoyed in print: on your walls, or in an album. If you want to print your own images, make sure your photographer offers full-resolution digital images with a print release. If you’d prefer to order professional images that will last a lifetime, ask your photographer to see samples of his or her products. Yes, wedding albums are still very much a thing too. Album design can be overwhelming, so it may be worth it to you to allow a professional to do it. Most photographers include digital image files in the price of the wedding coverage, but some instead offer printed products. It’s important to understand that from the outset so you can manage your expectations.

One final bit of advice…
One bit of advice I feel I must share is this: your wedding photos should last a lifetime. If you are working with a strict budget, do not cut corners for sub-par wedding photography. Now is not the time to make a choice based solely on price. Many memories of the ceremony and reception will fade into the background but the images of your day will remain in photos for years to come. You will never regret having a photographer who captures all the moments of your day and treats them as memorable as you do.