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Choosing a wedding photographer to document your day is arguably one of the most important choices to make when it comes to planning your wedding day. Think about it, who do you spend the most amount of time with on your wedding day? Your wedding photographer! What do you take away from your wedding day to look back at for years to come? Your wedding photos! So yes, who you choose as your wedding photographer will be a VERY important decision on your wedding day.
You might be wondering to yourself, well where do I start? How do we find a wedding photographer for our dream wedding day? If that’s the case then this article is for you as I will walk you through every step of finding the perfect wedding photographer to choose for your wedding day.
First things first, before you choose your photographer you and your partner will want to start looking at wedding photos online and figure out what kind of feel you hope your photos will have! Do you want something modern and editorial? Raw and colorful? Light and airy? There is no wrong answer to this question. Think about your home, think about whether you want your photos to be timeless or represent the era of history we are in right now, and what you want to look at for the rest of your life together. You can find photo examples on google image search or on Instagram by searching the hashtag #illinoisweddingphotographer, or you can go even more specific to the area you plan to get married in.
It’s important to remember here, that each of these wedding photographer’s editing style and vibe will reflect all of their work. This is their craft, and why people hire them. Wedding photographers do not change their editing style from client to client, so choosing an editing style that you’re drawn to will help you to find the photographer that will be perfect for your wedding day. Remember, you will look at these photos for YEARS, you should like every aspect of them!!!
Once you and your partner decide on an overall vibe of wedding photography that you like, it’s then time to start doing some internet sleuthing. You’ll want to find photographers that serve the area of your wedding and follow them on social media like Instagram to get to know them. You can start this process even before you’re engaged if you want to! While following them on Instagram and other social media platforms, you will start to get a feel for the photographer’s vibe. You can also check things like their website and look back at old Instagram posts to give you a feel for what kind of service they offer.
What do their past clients think of them? What do they talk about in their reviews? Check their reviews on Google, Facebook, or their website to get a general idea on the experience their past clients have had and what you can expect if you choose them to be your wedding photographer. Lastly don’t be concerned if they are not on the Knot or Wedding Wire as photographers pay to be on those sites. You’ll get a much better picture and idea of their work and vibe through their reviews as well as following their socials!
Once you have two or three photographers that you could potentially see documenting your wedding day, it’s time to send over an inquiry! I would suggest creating a note or a google file that has all of the vendors you’re inquiring with and keep track of who you have contacted.
When choosing a wedding photographer, it’s important to know that wedding photographers typically start booking about 15-18 months in advance. So if your wedding day is within that time frame, you should be good to contact your dream photogs. It is also important to know that most photographers only shoot between 15-30 weddings a year if they are a one woman or one man show. Saturdays are typically the first dates to book out for the year, followed by Sundays, and then weekday weddings are always pretty safe when it comes to inquiring.
If you have a DREAM wedding photographer that you have to have, be sure to inquire with them as early as you can, so you can book your date before they close their books for the year. On the other hand, if you’re inquiring with a handful of photographers, I suggest only inquiring with max three wedding photographers at a time so you don’t get mixed up on who you’ve contacted!
After you Inquire with a potential wedding photographer, you should get an email response from them within two business days or so with some general information about their services along with whether or not they are available for your wedding day! The photography industry is pretty cool in that if they are not available for your wedding day, they will often send over some of their industry friends that have similar styles to them to help you potentially find and choose your dream photographer. Last but not least, if they are available for your wedding day, they are going to ask to get on a call with you and your partner.
This is pretty standard throughout the industry as a wedding photographer. Wedding photography is an extremely important and high intensity job, thus photographers want to make sure they are the perfect fit for any potential clients that might come their way.
Once you hop on a call with your potential photographer there are some key questions you should ask them. You’ll want to make sure you + boo vibe with them, as again you will spend a lot of time with them on your wedding day! Some key and important questions to ask your potential wedding photographer on your call are:
If you’ve found the one for you, CONGRATULATIONS, THAT’S AMAZING! When you book with your photographer, you will have to sign a contract and pay a non-refundable deposit to reserve your wedding day. The price for non-refundable retainers ranges from photographer to photographer, but you should expect to pay anywhere between $800-$1000. My non-refundable retainers are 30% of your final invoice. From there we will put together a payment plan made up of 3-5 payments split up between the time of booking up to your wedding day.
A non-refundable retainer is something you can expect to find when booking all of your wedding vendors. Wedding vendors, specifically solo-prenuers, can only book one wedding per day, thus when you book your wedding and sign your contract, your wedding vendor will reserve your date and turn down other work that could potentially take place on the same day as your wedding day. The non-refundable retainer keeps potential clients from backing out of their contract, and protects their income, while also ensuring that you have your photographer reserved for that date.
When booking your wedding photographer there are a couple things to keep an eye out for as far as red flags. If they don’t post their booking prices on their website you should probably look into other options and avoid them. If they don’t require you to sign a contract for their work RUN for the hills! That is unsafe and sketchy for both you and them and is an immediate and massive red flag. Also in terms of contracts be sure to read yours thoroughly before signing and sending any money their way. Make sure there’s nothing fishy like no delivery dates listed for your photos before signing.
This varies from photographer to photographer, but with me, we start getting to know one another! If you have also booked an engagement session we will begin to plan your engagement session. As your wedding day gets closer we will go over timeline details together, expectations for the wedding day, and overall layout of your wedding day. I’ll be checking in with you throughout the time leading up to your wedding day to make sure you’re feeling good and excited for your date. And don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions, your photographer is your resource! So if you have questions on if something will or won’t work in your timeline, send your photographer a message and ask to hop on a call with them to discuss.
As you can see there’s so much to consider when it comes time to choose the photographer that is right for you and your wedding day. Do your research so you can find your dream photographer to help put together the wedding of your dreams! Speaking of which if you like the work you’ve seen from me so far and are liking my vibe and style you can send an inquiry through my contact page here. We may just be the right fit for one another!
February 23, 2023
All love is welcome & celebrated here.
Rachael Marie Photography values inclusivity and will never discriminate against your gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, body type, or abilities. You are wonderful, beautiful, and loved here.