So you’re engaged, woohoo! You’ve posted the obligatory photo on Facebook, rung your mum and downed the champagne.
Well first, enjoy it! There’s no rush. When you’re ready to start planning the Party Of The Year, here are some things to think about:
You’ll probably want to start by thinking about what time of year and which country you’d like to get married in. Do you want it to be hot and sunny or chilly and autumnal? Do you want to hold it on farm or a in an Italian villa or up a mountain in Iceland or in your local pub? So many choices!
Once you’ve decided on a date/time of year and a venue (or even just a rough idea of the location) the next thing you’ll want to think about is booking a wedding photographer. Where do you begin? What does it entail? How do you trawl through the 21,100,000 results in Google?
Let’s narrow it down.
Most wedding photographers have a personal style – every photographer’s style is different, but generally they fit into one (or more) of these categories:
A documentary wedding photographer blends into the crowd, shooting things as they happen. They’ll capture all the little moments and won’t ever ask anyone to pose or look at the camera and smile. This is the best style of wedding photography if you want natural, candid photos that represent your day. As a documentary wedding photographer myself, I get to know my couples and their guests and blend in with the wedding, acting like a guest. I also do a few portraits and always do some group photos, because they’re important, but they don’t take up much time.
This is a much more styled way of working. The photographer will often spend a lot of time setting up photos of your dress, shoes and rings, and will also take a lot of time perfecting the portrait and group photos. You’ll get the sort of photos you see in classic wedding magazines or on Pinterest, with lots of blurred backgrounds and an airy feel. The edit on the photos will usually be very light and bright, and often a fine art photographer shoots on film. There are very few genuine fine art wedding photographers out there.
This photographer will take all the shots you expect – bride putting dress on, rings and first kiss at the alter, group photos of the family and posed photos of most of the guests. If you don’t want a photographer sneaking around getting candid shots and you’d rather have them just do the job then go home, this is the one for you.
A creative wedding photographer is usually documentary or fine art in style, but will also get unusual angles, play with light and location in interesting ways and sometimes use creative methods to get unique shots. They may ask you to take more time out for portrait photos to try a cool idea they had but if they’ve shown creative wedding photos you love on their site then it’s probably worth the time!
Your wedding photographer is going to be with you all day, from boobs out in the morning to boobs out on the dancefloor in the evening. You have to be comfortable with them, but even better, if they feel like a best mate (or the last bridesmaid as I like to describe myself) then they’ll fit in with everyone at the wedding and feel like a guest instead of a supplier. Not only will this make your day more fun, but also it will make your photos more personal.
If you get on well with your photographer, they won’t be afraid to take photos up close (photos feel closer to the action when they actually are), they’ll know what you like and they’ll feel comfortable enough with you to help you with anything during the day, from telling you your boob is hanging out (again with the boobs) to sharing gossip about the best man in the loos. I want to be emotionally invested in every wedding.
I want to love every single couple whose wedding I shoot. I cry at the speeches. I feel proud during the vows, I grin all day long because I love these people and want them to have the best day ever, and at the end of the day I boogie on the dancefloor with all my new mates. And the photos reflect this joy. (yes that’s me in the middle)
Price is important too, and if you value photography then you’ll need to invest in it. If you can’t afford your dream photographer, ditch the flowers, turn down plus ones you’ve never met and find a non-wedding venue like a pub – plus weekdays are often cheaper than weekends. A good, experienced photographer will be £1500+.
Get to know them
Once you’ve decided on a style and found a few wedding photographers you like the sound of, pop them an email and get to know them. Ask to see a full wedding gallery (although bear in mind every wedding is unique and shot differently according to the people, the light, the vibe). Make sure their work is consistent – and try to look at weddings from the same time of year as yours, as the light will be very different at a December wedding to an August wedding. Is the photographer genuinely excited by your plans? Plan a Skype call or a meeting in person and have a chat to make sure you get on.
The best wedding photographers get booked up really early, like a year to 18 months in advance. If you’re getting married on a Saturday between April and September and you have a photographer who is The One, then book them before someone else does! I ask for £500 deposit, which holds the date so no one else can book it. I also send a contract which states the full cost and terms and conditions which state what you get, protect you from anything that could possibly go wrong and protect me from losing out from cancellations (some couples book several photographers so they hold the date and then cancel all but one when they finally decide, which is pretty shady). Once my couples are booked in I send them a super cool welcome pack with tips and advice and a fun little surprise.
Stay in touch
After they’ve booked, I send my couples a welcome booklet which helps them plan the day, with suggested timelines, photography timelines so you know what to expect and when, more details about what you can expect from on the day, ways to get the best out of your photography and suggestions for how to stay relaxed in the run up and how to have a fun wedding.
Two months before the wedding (on the first of the month) I send my couples a Day in Detail form (so I can get group photo details, addresses, timelines etc) and also an invoice for the balance, which is due on the first of the next month (the month before the wedding).
In the run-up to the wedding I welcome any emails or calls asking for advice. But if you send me a copy and paste list of photos from a wedding magazine with everything on it from “bride putting on dress while bridesmaids look proud in the mirror reflection” to “bridesmaids laughing together with champagne in their hands while the groom looks lovingly at her and the dad sheds a tear in the background” then I will pop that magazine up your butt.
If you’ve booked a photographer who you trust, get on with and who has responded to any queries you’ve had, then all you have to do is enjoy the rest of your wedding planning!