Proposal and planning? Done. Ceremony? Check. Honeymoon? Complete. Picture yourself strolling through the door of your home with your brand new spouse, fresh off the plane from a tour through Italian wine country or a resort in Bora Bora. You sit down to check your email. Nothing from your photographer.
You check in a few days later and finally get a link to a preview of your wedding photos. They're edited haphazardly and cropped in odd places. The sparkle of your ceremony and the glitter of your getaway are fading, and you wish you had gone with the three-star hotel instead of the five-star, and paid more for memories from your special day.
Now, instead: picture strolling through the door of your home with your new spouse to find a brown paper package tied up with string, a disk with a thousand favorites — pristine from the frame to the editing — with a second disk of terrific outtakes and a handwritten note from your photographer thanking you for a great experience. Maybe a bottle of wine even made its way in there.
Not everyone has the budget to find the Annie Leibovitz of weddings to document their happy day, but when it comes to hashing out a spending plan for a wedding, photography should be towards the top of the list. It's easy to say yes to a friend or family member with a background in or love for photography, especially when they're happy to offer a bargain. However, when you pay for a worthwhile photographer, you're getting more than a disk and print package of your wedding day.
The best wedding photographers come with years of experience. They'll make you feel comfortable and at ease throughout the day, and they're not afraid to go above and beyond by lending a hand where it's needed. Planning for a wedding involves a million little things, and after taking the time to perfect each one, photos that don't match the aesthetic you strived so hard to capture might even make you misremember the joy you felt on your wedding day.
Many times, you can find your perfect photography match by a referral from a friend or even by how photographers present themselves online or in their promotional material. However, there are a few things to keep in mind during your search, especially when weighing options.
Look for a package deal: investing in an experienced photographer usually means they enlist a second or even third person to assist in shooting the wedding. Multiple photographers means different angles or a different mood, and ensure the perfect shot for every moment. Also, remember to start searching early. Experienced photographers tend to be in high demand, especially if your wedding is scheduled for busy season, so be prepared to book far in advance.
Finally, don't be afraid to ask questions and give your input when you meet with a photographer. You don't want to become Bridezilla or Mr. High-and-Mighty, but remember that the photographers are there to meet your needs and help you accomplish your wedding goals. You may be spending a high percentage of your wedding budget, but the right photographers will want to provide 100% satisfaction.
Chelsea Lankford is a writer and the creator of style blog Zipped. She lives and works in downtown Minneapolis.
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