Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Wedding Photographer

Cover Image by Mary Dougherty, Mary Dougherty Photography

Right now we’re in the process of renovating our kitchen. I’ve never done a large home improvement project before, so it makes me nervous feeling like I don’t know what I don’t know. I don’t even know what’s “normal” when it comes to working with construction contractors and designers. So we hired a firm to help us manage everything.

Planning your wedding is similar. Most couples don’t know what’s normal and what’s not. They don’t know what to expect, so sometimes they miss things or don’t know what to ask. This process happens all the time – especially when it comes to booking a wedding photographer, which is one of the first wedding pros couples hire. Luckily, I spoke to the best wedding photographers who offered great advice and insight from many years in the industry!

In this post, I’m going to give you super helpful tips on what to ask (and not ask) when choosing a wedding photographer. Afterward, you’ll feel more confident about all the things you should consider before you reach out to your favorite photographer and what questions to ask when you do!

Wedding Photographer Pricing Varies by Experience, Quality, and Demand

One of the first things you will be thinking about when choosing a wedding photographer is your budget!

There’s a reason why wedding photographers’ prices vary so much. Experience, quality, and demand. And this may be obvious, but (when it comes to wedding photography), you get what you pay for. Sometimes couples state that ‘they are paying for it themselves’ as if it’s unusual to do so. This gives me the impression that they are hinting for a discount because their parents are not footing the bill. But this isn’t really a valid reason for us to drop our rate because other couples are doing the same thing and don’t ask for a discount. They value our talent and pay the same rate as everyone else. Keep in mind that you’re going to look at your wedding photos hundreds of times for decades to come, so be thoughtful about your choice.”

Chellise Michael Photography, a wedding photography collective.

Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Wedding Photographer

Image: Chellise Michael Photography

Form a Real Connection with the Photographer First 

Connect with your photographer first if you are interested in working together. Ask about a specific wedding or compliment an image of theirs that you love. Start with a better question than just their price, or at least ask a few other questions in addition to asking for package options.

I love taking people from a conversation about price to a conversation about the experience they’ll have with me. Truthfully, there is a photographer for both. You will end up choosing your photographer based not only on price but on style, personality, and experience.”

— Mary Dougherty, Mary Dougherty Photography

How to pick your wedding photographer | Verve Event Co. How to pick your wedding photographer | Verve Event Co.

Images: Mary Dougherty Photography

Tell Me Your Story in Your Initial Inquiry

“Your wedding is personal & emotional and you should make sure that all of your vendors are equally invested in your special day.  Tell me all about you and your fiance in your initial inquiry.  I want to know your story of how you met.  How did he propose?  What are your wedding dreams and how do you envision spending time with those you love most?  And very important, please share your wedding date and venue with me from the very first email.  I want to make sure I am available to shoot your wedding and feel all of your excitement from day one.  Don’t just fill the contact form out with your name and date and no other details.  Take the time to share your story with me and I will be so happy to get to know you both!?”

Ali Reed, Alexandra Elise Photography

Images: Alexandra Elise Photography

Ask to See Full Galleries

“Most photographers don’t show many ceremony or reception photos on their websites and Instagram. So before you hire someone, you should be sure you LOVE how they capture all parts of a day. That means seeing lots of full wedding galleries (never just one or heaven forbid, none!). Another reason to ask for this is that lots of photographers build up their social media via styled shoots (which is awesome) but they’re VERY different than actual wedding days. If you’re hiring for a wedding, you should see plenty of real weddings before you commit to someone to ensure you will love the photos you have after your big day!”

— Nicole Nero, Nicole Nero Photography

“Look beyond the photographer’s Instagram or blog posts and ask to see an entire wedding gallery or two so you can really gain an understanding of their work as a whole. From there, choose the photographer who resonates with you the most. When looking at full galleries, look for consistency in editing, how they handle difficult lighting, and if the photos make you feel anything.”

Chellise Michael Photography, a wedding photography collective.

Wedding Planning, and starting to shop for your dream gown? Make sure to read my blog post, all about Wedding Dress Shopping 101!


Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Wedding Photographer | Verve Event Co.

Images: Mary Dougherty Photography

Know What Kind of Relationship You Want with Your Photographer

One thing I emphasize with prospective couples is the relationship. I don’t join people for one day, but a year or more as they prepare, celebrate, and remember their day. As a result, I only photograph 15 weddings a year. After 12 years in the industry, I know putting more energy into each will allow me to capture my signature images which are refined, natural and meaningful. Now all of my couples are dream couples because they are on board with the experience and a level of trust is there from the beginning.”

— Mary Dougherty, Mary Dougherty Photography

Mary Dougherty Wedding Photography

Images: Mary Dougherty Photography

Choose a Wedding Photographer That Has the Right Energy

Unlike most vendors, your photographer will be with you throughout the day. They act as your right hand and your cheerleader. Not only are they going to deliver you images that you will cherish for years to come but they’ll also affect the way you experience your day. Having the right energy and someone that will connect with you on one of the biggest days of your life is crucial to making your decision.”

— Laura Rose, Laura Rose Weddings

How to pick your wedding photographer | Verve Event Co. Wedding Photography by Laura Rose Photography

Images: Laura Rose Weddings

Be Open to Receiving Education and Advice from Photographers 

Ask anyone you’re chatting with to educate you on everything you should be aware of while photographer shopping. I’m a huge proponent of finding the right fit vs just fighting to ‘win’ every lead. Not every lead is the right lead and that is super important.”

— Nicole Nero, Nicole Nero Photography

Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Wedding Photographer

Images: Nicole Nero Photography

Engagement Sessions Serve a Purpose Beyond Beautiful Photos 

“We like to connect with our couples on a deeper level before their wedding day. We want to know who they are and what their vibe is, so we gift them an engagement shoot.  It’s a very relaxed at-home session that allows us to hang out, break the ice, and get them comfortable in front of the camera. It works like a charm for even the most camera-shy people! And it makes our job so much easier because we get a glimpse of how they interact with each other at home. And for them, they learn our light direction so, on their wedding day, there’s already an understanding of how we work. From this shoot, trust is gained and they are comfortable with us, which is invaluable to us, hence, why we gift it.”

Chellise Michael Photography, a wedding photography collective.

Stumped on Where to Take Your Engagement Photos?  Make sure to read my blog post, 9 Surprising Places to Take Engagement Photos

Chellise Michael Photography, a wedding photography collective.

Images: Chellise Michael Photography

Think About Lighting When Putting Together Your Schedule

Make sure you consider what time of day you’re having your outdoor ceremony.  Is it at 2:00 in the afternoon in July?  That means you’ll have direct, hard sunlight.  In terms of photographs, you’re shooting in the harshest lighting conditions, which is typically not ideal or flattering. You should also consider the timing and heat for your guests if they’ll be sitting in harsh direct sun for 20-30mins.”

–Laura Rose, Laura Rose Weddings

Wedding Photography by Laura Rose Photography

Images: Laura Rose Weddings

Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Wedding Photographer

Booking a wedding photographer can be overwhelming. There are so many out there, and it can be hard to know which one is the right one for you! With these tips from REAL wedding photographers, you will avoid any mistakes, and pick the perfect one. So get out there, and start choosing a wedding photographer!

Planning a wedding? Make sure to subscribe to my Flash Briefings! Tip 138 is all about how to choose a wedding photographer!

Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Wedding Photographer | Verve Event Co.

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