This post wasn’t written by Caleb or I. It is from a friend of ours who was recently married and had an experience with wedding photography that she felt very compelled to share on our blog.
The day my husband and I got engaged was one of the happiest days of my life. I was so excited to start the rest of our lives together, but … not gonna lie … I was reeeeally excited to plan our WEDDING! I know, I know, everyone says it’s about the marriage, not the wedding. I agree 100%. But come on. Nothing wrong with also getting excited about planning a huge party where all of your loved ones get to bear witness to you committing your life to the one you love most (then going on to a seriously amazing party after!). Admit it, brides … y’all all feel the same!!!
As we began to discuss our ideas for our Big Day, we figured out pretty quickly the things that were most important to each of us and what we were willing to “splurge” on. For my husband, it was important to have good food, drinks and music. For me, it was important to have those things plus have the ceremony/reception take place somewhere unique and special to us as a couple. We nailed down our important items and felt super accomplished!
Then the other items started adding up, financially. And I mean, REALLY adding up. Weddings can get outrageously expensive. We were working so dang hard to try and cut back anywhere we possibly could to make it under budget. I felt pretty good about what we’d decided to spend less on, then it came time to choose one more important vendor.
And sadly … the choice I made ended up resulting in my biggest wedding planning regret.
I chose my wedding photographer based mostly on her fees. I did look at her portfolio and liked her work just fine, I figured she’d do a good enough job and I had other more pressing matters to attend to during the planning process. So I booked her and forgot about it until the day of the wedding.
Then the wedding day came and my photographer was there for about eight hours. She took “getting ready” photos, family photos, first look, ceremony, bridal party, reception … all the essentials. I was too busy having the time of my life to worry about how the pictures would look. I’d seen her portfolio, right? I’m sure they’ll be great!
Fast forward to about 2 months later when I excitedly opened an email with the link to all of our wedding pictures. I sat down with my husband and started scrolling through. After about the 40th shot, I was in tears. I couldn’t even keep looking at them. I was SO disappointed. All I kept thinking in my head over and over was that I should have spent the extra money for a better photographer.
Now, let me say that I did look back at my photos weeks later and, after a while, ended up liking about 50% of them. But still. 50%?! When you spend money on something, you should be HAPPY about it. You decide to make an investment in a product and you want to be happy with what you get. You want your money’s worth. I realized that I’d made a big mistake in not spending more for a photographer with more experience, a better portfolio, better reviews, an established business, etc. My photographer wasn’t BAD by any means. But I should have taken a step back and thought about how important these photos would actually be to me down the road. I posted the pictures on Facebook so family and friends could see them and had a small book printed at home, but that was it. I put on a happy face about the photos when people asked if I loved them, but even today, nine months later, I still really regret not considering the INVESTMENT working with a great wedding photographer should be.
So. Here are a few tips I want to offer brides so they don’t make the same mistake. Because trust me, even if you think you don’t care about the photos, YOU WILL!!!!
1. Do your research. EARLY.
Really great photographers are popular for a reason and will book up quickly during wedding season. Don’t push the photography aside until later and then have to settle for a vendor who won’t give you what you really want. Start looking at portfolios and pricing early in the engagement, have phone calls/emails with photographers, etc. And when I say look at the portfolios, I mean REALLY look at them. Does a certain photographer shoot almost entirely outdoor weddings, but yours is in a church and hotel ballroom? Probably not the right choice. Consider your venue and if that photographer can work there. I didn’t even think about that, which is why I cannot stand certain photos, even still today.
2. If you find a photographer who gets along with you as a couple, it’s a very good sign.
Our engagement photographer was different than our wedding photographer because we had a destination wedding. Our engagement photographer actually offered us a deal where they’d travel to our wedding in Colorado to take the wedding photos and they were offering a KILLER discount for destination weddings, too. I turned her down because it was still a little more than I wanted to spend for “Day Of” photos. Let’s just say my engagement pictures are currently ALL OVER our house and we have exactly ONE wedding photo printed. See what I’m saying here? 🙂 Anyway, I LOVED our engagement photos but loved the photographer even more. Our wedding photographer was a perfectly nice girl, but I never felt any connection to her. At the time I didn’t think about it, but looking back, it was really impersonal and just felt like a job she “checked off” her list.
3. Keep your budget in mind, but like you would with any part of the wedding, ask yourself how important the photos are to you as a couple.
Do you want to be able to show off your photos to loved ones? Do you want to be crying tears of joy when the images come back? Do you want to be looking at these photos every day for years to come, and be able to transport yourself back to that exact moment on your special day? If you answered yes to any of those, trust me … spend a little extra to work with the photographer you really trust and love.
Ultimately, It’s an investment. But it’s WORTH IT.
Happy Planning : )
More tips for planning can be found in our For Brides series!