Are you getting ready to hire your wedding photographer? How exciting! Your wedding photographer is the vendor who will memorialize every second of your wedding day for years to come. Hiring your wedding photographer is also a big investment and a multi-faceted decision. We’re breaking down everything you need to know before hiring your wedding photographer, in the post below!
What’s Your Vision for Your Wedding Photos?
Photographers are visual artists, and like any other artist, they approach their medium with their own style and their own aesthetic. But, what is your vision for your wedding day photos? Are you hoping for classic portraits? A photojournalistic approach? Timeless memories? What about something more editorial, like photos you would see on the pages of a magazine? You have to first understand the vision you have for your wedding photos before reaching out to a wedding photographer.
Reaching out to a wedding photographer simply because you like the price point that is being offered will result in a heap of disappointment. This is kind of like the old adage of “putting the cart before the horse”. Choosing a wedding photography package based on price and then later expecting a wedding photographer to shift their medium to accommodate your vision & expectation will not result in the amazing working relationship you need to form with your wedding photographer.
Comb through styles of wedding photography to see what most aligns the vision you have for your wedding day. Once you have a wider understanding of the types & styles of wedding photography offered, you can begin your search. Comb through any potential wedding photographer’s social media content and the galleries posted on their website. You should have a knee-jerk response of either “this is exactly what I’m looking for” or “I don’t think this is it”.
In 2021, couples spent a grand total of $3.3 billion, on wedding photography! Yes, billion with a B! To give you an idea of what the total spend for weddings was in 2021, it was around $50 billion. That’s across the entire wedding industry, in the U.S. Also, that number also reflects that there were still many restrictions in place for hosting weddings & events, and most couples waited or postponed their weddings until 2022 & beyond. The average spend on a wedding photography package totaled around $2k per wedding. However, the cost of hiring a professional wedding photographer can widely range anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, and sometimes higher. [cost breakdowns in the above paragraph based on consumer data research provided by The Wedding Report, INC]
Where does that leave you when it comes to your total budget for wedding photography? Your budget for wedding photography should be around 15% – 20% of your total wedding budget. So, for example, if you are planning a wedding with a bottom line budget of $20k, then your total spend for wedding photography should begin at $3,000. You might be thinking that wedding photography is expensive. However, consider this, it is the only physical reminder you will be left with of your wedding day. Once the dinner has been eaten and the cake has been sliced, you’ll hang your wedding photos on the walls of your home, print them in albums to someday share with your grandchildren, and frame them and gift them to parents. So yes, it ranks as the second or third largest cost of your wedding day, right behind your venue and catering package.
When Should You Book Your Wedding Photographer?
Your wedding photographer will be one of the first three wedding vendors you hire. Typically the order that you book your first three wedding vendors is venue, planner, and photographer. Or venue, photographer, or planner. This is with good reason, and done by design! Wondering why you should book your wedding photographer so early in the planning process? First, most wedding photographers are solo business owners. Meaning they can only serve at one couple’s wedding per day. Or in many cases, serve one wedding per weekend (wedding days are long y’all!).
Second, the demand for wedding vendors only rose after 2020. Couples now have a better vision when planning their wedding day experience. They know what they want, and they’re not holding back on going after it. So what time frame does that leave you with for booking your wedding photographer? You want to book your wedding photographer anywhere from 18-24 months before your wedding day! Confused on where that leaves your other vendors in the planning process? For a complete timeline of when to hire your wedding vendors, you can read more about it, in this post.
What is a Wedding Photography Package?
A wedding photography package is typically an outline of the services you can expect to receive along with any deliverables, accompanied by a firm price point. Wedding photography packages can include the total number of hours your photographer will be present on wedding day, the type of communication and coordination you’ll receive in advance of your day (including the coordination of a shoot wish list, timeline, and client questionnaire) an expected timeline for delivery of your digital gallery, and whether or not an engagement session is included. PS: If an engagement session is not included, we highly recommend booking one in advance of our wedding day! You can read more about that here!
Many wedding photographers offer more than one package, which allows you the flexibility of deciding what works best for your day. But, if there is an additional service, item, or number of hours needed to fit your wedding day experience that is not listed within their packages, don’t be afraid to ask! Your photographer may be able to add these items to one of their packages in order to create something more specific to fit your needs.
Securing your Date with a Deposit & Contract
You can take the steps needed to secure your wedding photographer, once your venue is booked! After all, you haven’t secured your wedding date until your venue is officially under contract. In order to book your wedding photographer, the industry standard is to pay a deposit (which can total anywhere from 25%-50% of your total package) and to sign a service contract. The contract provided by your wedding photographer should go over terms & conditions, a breakdown of additional payments, the outline of your package, and the expected turnaround time for any listed within the package you chose.
Your wedding photographer’s contract may also go over any additional policies to cover both you and your spouse as well as your photographer in the event of an emergency, or inclement weather. If, when you receive the contract from your wedding photographer you have questions about the terms listed within, don’t be afraid to ask them what it means! They will happily explain any clause you have a question about and the purpose that it serves.
Working Through Your Timeline vs Hours in Your Wedding Photography Package
This is where things “can” get tricky, but luckily wedding planners and photographers are masters of creating seamless wedding day timelines! Here’s what you need to consider. If you are looking at a wedding photography package that includes coverage of your wedding for a specific, set number of hours. How does that line up with all that you hope to capture from your wedding? Is there time for getting ready portraits in the wedding suites? Does it allow for a first look before your ceremony? Is there time for family formals and photos with your wedding party after your ceremony?
What about the end of the night? Do you have an epic wedding exit planned that ends with you hopping in an amazing getaway car? Most wedding photographers do not stay for the entire duration of your wedding day. So it’ll be up to you to make the decision on when you’d like them to start. If those cherished getting ready moments with your wedding party and your family by your side are something you can’t miss out on, ask your photographer if they can “stage” your epic wedding exit so you still get those amazing photos of your sendoff!
Is Your Wedding Photographer Inclusive?
Are you trying to book wedding vendors who are inclusive of all communities celebrating love? Your wedding photographer should lead by example in this category because after all, they own the copyright to the content, the photos! There are a few straightforward ways to check if the wedding photographer you are interested in working with is inclusive.
The first is simply to scroll through their website or social media content. What portrayal is the wedding photographer choosing to share on these channels? Does it include the LGBTQ+ community, POC, and interabled couples? If the photos they’ve chosen to publicly share on their platforms aren’t showing a range of inclusivity, do they have any certifications on their site for courses they’ve taken that show the photographer to be educated in celebrating equality? One we love to see is the Equally Wed LGBTQ+ Inclusive Certification Course. Other badges to check for on their site include “preferred vendor” badges that the photographer has received from publications that celebrate marginalized communities, or “featured on” badges of publications that have showcased the photographer’s work!