Wedding Wednesday: How I Chose My Photographer

Whew. It’s been almost two months since we got engaged and while I feel like we’ve tackled a lot so far (attended a wedding fair, created a planning binder, bought the ring) – there’s still much more to do. We still need to narrow down the guest list, bargain hunt rental companies, find a wedding gown, and do some taste-tests/consultations for a cake vendor (his big must). Luckily, my big must was found and booked within a few weeks of our engagement – the photographer.

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Image Courtesy of: Miranda Laine Photography

Yep, the after getting married to The Boy – the photography was my number one wedding must-have. Ya’ll should know something about me. I have a weirdly visual sense of sentimentality. I have always attached memories and feelings to the things that I look at. For example, I have this water bottle that I refuse to share with The Boy because my little sister saved up her money and bought it for me as a Christmas present – every time I see it; I smile and think of how much she must love me.

It’s this trait that has lead me to display countless photos of my friends and family in lieu of artwork. I love having my memories up and out where I can see them and relive them; thus, the photography for my wedding was SUPER important. I wanted gorgeous photos that told the story of the day that we became a family. That meant coughing up the dough, skipping the DIY path, and hiring a pro. Here’s how I did it:

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Image Courtesy of: Miranda Laine Photography

The first part of the hunt was figuring out exactly what kind of photography I wanted: traditional, posed, candid, photo-journalism, artist, retro? There are so many options these days and you really need to know what appeals to you before you go looking for your photographer. So out came the wedding magazines and up came the wedding blogs – I basically spent loads of time looking at photos and seeing which style “spoke” to me. After lots of looking, I realized that I really liked candid shots and more of the photo-journalism style (along with a few traditional, posed shots for my mom). Also, I wanted a photographer who could take beautiful stylized shots of my DIY projects and décor so that I can showcase them on the blog.

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Image Courtesy of: Miranda Laine Photography

Next, I really had to decide on a budget. ***FULL DISCLOSURE: Because I own and operate a for-profit wedding blog, if I use any of the photography from my wedding day on the blog – I can write-off the entire expense.*** With this in mind, The Boy and I have treated the wedding photography as a completely separate part of our wedding budget. That meant that instead of budgeting the photography from within the actual wedding budget, we are treating it like a business expense. So! It was determined that we could afford to spend $2,000 – $3,500 on this wedding expense.

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Image Courtesy of: Miranda Laine Photography

Next, came the actual finding of the photographer – not that easy when you consider the fact that I am planning a wedding in a city that I’ve only recently moved to. I tried Googling it but was overwhelmed by choices. Enter the local wedding fair – I made it my goal to find my wedding photography before I left it. I made sure that my best friend (and Matron of Honor), Amanda, knew the style and budget I was looking for so that she could help me scout the ideal one out. At the show, we made our rounds and looked over the portfolios of each photographer there. I made sure to collect the brochures of the photographers that I was most interested in so that I could track them down again later.

By the end of the wedding fair, I had narrowed my choice down to five vendors. After sitting down and talking it over with Amanda, I realized that two were out of my budget. Down to three. Another one was just a little too traditional for my tastes. And then there were two. I liked both so I decided to interview each. I approached each vendor and was very upfront about the fact that I was talking to them because I was trying to decide between two vendors. Then came the interview portion of the day. I asked each photographer that same set of questions:

  • What experience do you have with photography and with shooting weddings?
  • Do you offer a free engagement photo session?
  • Will there be two photographers shooting the entire wedding?
  • Do you have experience shooting middle-aged/not-model-looking people?
  • Do you have experience doing wedding shoots with pets?
  • Do you have experience/feel comfortable shooting a wedding with an autistic child in the wedding party?
  • Can you travel to our wedding venue (our home)?
  • How many images to you release to us after the wedding?
  • Are your images copyright-free so that we can print them whenever and whereever we want?
  • How long do you display the images online after the wedding so that our guests can view them?
  • Are you willing to do a few tradtional, posed wedding shots for my mom

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Image Courtesy of: Miranda Laine Photography

By the end of the wedding fair, I had narrowed my choice down to five vendors. After sitting down and talking it over with Amanda, I realized that two were out of my budget. Down to three. Another one was just a little too traditional for my tastes. And then there were two. I liked both so I decided to interview each. I approached each vendor and was very upfront about the fact that I was talking to them because I was trying to decide between two vendors. Then came the interview portion of the day. I asked each photographer that same set of questions:

After asking those questions and really listening to the answers I was given, I was able to make a decision. I headed right over to my selected photographer, asked to book my wedding date, and whipped out my checkbook. Success!