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Let’s face it, hiring a wedding photographer is a big deal. They run the gambit from cheap to expensive, super involved to very hands-off. Here’s what a few brides across the country have told S Photography they wish they knew or realized before hiring a wedding photographer and getting hitched.

“Engagement shoots can be an additional cost but definitely go for it as a trial run. (From personal experience: we had none of the details hammered out when we did an engagement shoot – with a photographer we wouldn’t have even considered for our wedding, they just had a ‘special’. It was the worst! We got a couple alright pictures out of it but I wish we would have used that opportunity to connect with our actual, final-decision wedding photographer instead of getting swept up in the excitement of being engaged!)
Make sure you connect. If you can’t do an engagement shoot up front, meet for coffee – twice! Or Skype at least!
Make sure you communicate what you want. I learned quickly that some photographers will stage your wedding dress, rings etc and others just won’t. If its detail shots you crave make sure you say that and make your final decision on that. A photographer that never stages things will be less comfortable with hanging your dress in that special spot you envision.

Never use a resort photographer. I’m sorry, I’m sure this is a personal thing and also a cost question but if you’re gonna get married on a beautiful beach don’t cheap out on the photos.

I know a few people that ended up with lackluster pictures and are disappointed now. Make sure you have fun when being photographed. Our pictures turned out so great because we just got to be ourselves (documentary style rules! Lol). If you’re too concerned with your hand placement or not showing your right side you likely wont enjoy looking at your pics because all you’ll see is ‘my hand hurt when we shot this’ rather than ‘partner whispered the funniest thing in this picture’. I know its easy to say that but try to always remember You. Just. Got. MARRIED!!! – Mel, California

“I wish I hadn’t spent a little money hiring a s****y photographer because that day was so special to me and all I have to look back on are the memories that are fading and the crappy photos I don’t like. Lesson? Don’t hire a budget photographer.” – Flika, California

“This wasn’t so much an issue with me, but my photographer and I discussed this after we got to know each other a little better. Make sure you like the style of the photographs they take. Look at actual weddings they have photographed themselves. If you like bright and cheery but their style is high contrast and moody, you won’t like your photos. And Brides can set themselves up for failure by over planning each shot they want. The photographer is there to use their artistic eye, not recreate a mash up of weddings their client saw on Pinterest.” – Elizabeth, Washington
“I learned quickly that there is a giant difference between passionate photographers and people who just do it for money. The woman I found is extremely passionate in what she does. We have now met up 3 times. Once to interview each other (she won’t work for bridezillas so she makes sure there’s a personality match), once for the engagement shoot, and once for an update before the wedding.” – Maggie, Missouri
“That they are so stupid expensive. I’ll admit, I live in a high-cost metro area, but I never expected them to be as much money as they are. Even the low-end photographers are expensive. I’m very happy with the woman I selected, but I spent three times as much on my photographer as I did my wedding dress.” – Jess, California

“This is obvious, but you can’t hire a better photographer to go back and shoot your wedding after it’s done.” – Josh, Oregon

“I really wish we would have discussed some poses before hand. I loved my photographer but looking back I wish I had been a bit more posed into flattering positions. I know she tried on the day of, but I was so happy, excited and impatient to get to the party that listening to her direction was a bit lost on me that day. Our pictures turned out fine, lovely actually, but I don’t love me in all the pictures.” – Sandra, Oregon

“I really didn’t do my research when it came to photographers. I honestly thought that a photographer is a photographer, and it didn’t matter who I went with as long as they were cheap. I hired my cousin who had just graduated with High Honors from a good college in Los Angeles. She and her husband both had graduated with bachelor’s degrees in the Arts, and specialized in photography. I thought that meant they would be the bomb. They weren’t. I won’t bore you with the rest of that story, but in the end the images were terrible and few, and I liked maybe ten of them. I planned my wedding by myself and had no one with experience to help me. I wish I had done that differently.

The other thing I wish was different was doing all the photos after the ceremony. I totally regret that, but when I got married a “first look” was unheard of. Our photos took a full hour, and were taken right there in the same location as the reception. Guests came walking into the photo time and interrupted constantly, making it take way longer. Later on, I heard from family who traveled far who thought that us taking so long for photos was rude to the guests, and many of them left the reception before we were even through with taking photos.
My advice to future brides is this: not everyone is a real photographer–do your research and for Pete’s sake, hire a professional!! Also, please consider a First Look and all the benefits that come with getting your photos done early. I didn’t mean to offend my guests or make them feel ignored, but that’s how they felt when my portrait hour was right after the ceremony.” – Christina, Oregon

Whew! That’s a lot to think about. All these brides and grooms had some solid advice – and if one person has experienced any of the above, you’re guaranteed to find another bride and groom who has experienced the same thing.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – as a recent bride, I wish I would have prioritized photography even more. I would have spent less on food and decor and having so many people attend (even though we “only” had 100 people attend). My husband and I would have had a smaller, more adventurous wedding at sunrise on a mountaintop or something similar. That way we could have invested more in a photographer and products. Don’t get me wrong, big weddings are fantastic! It’s all about what you want and what you’d like to prioritize. Do you want heaps of gourmet food? Do it! (Just save me a plate!) Do you want a couture wedding gown? Get it! (But send me a snap because I guarantee I’m DYING to see!).
Until next time,
-S.
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