So you’re planning a wedding, and it feels like both your money and emotions are being pulled in all different directions. Your mom is adamant that there be baby’s breath in the bouquets. Your dad NEEDS steak at the reception. And the best man is dead set on a party bus. When you can’t afford it all, where do you make the cuts?
Well, you don’t have any friends who own a party bus, and your parents are paying for part of your wedding. But you’ve got a friend with a new camera, and you’ve seen some of her pictures of flowers from her last trip to the botanical gardens, so you’re pretty sure she can handle it. If not, you’ll just set up a wedding hashtag, or throw some disposable cameras on the tables and let your guest handle the rest. What’s the worst that can happen…
Because most of us live with cameras in our pockets 24/7, it feels like photography is often the first to get cut out of the wedding budget. And if I can speak as a former bride, and not a photographer for just a second, can I just say that’s a really bad idea? Ok, photographer again.
I want to do my best to educate brides on some of the things they may not think about when planning their weddings. I’ve seen it all, I’ve heard the regrets, and I want to save even just one bride from wedding photography sadness.
1. Because I’m more than a photographer.
You’re going to hire a whole lot of vendors, some of which you won’t even see on your wedding day. Your florist will drop your flowers off and maybe say hello. You won’t see the artist who bakes and decorates your cake. You’ll greet your DJ, and thank him in between announcements. But your photographer is with you all. day. long. For most of my brides, this is their very first time being a bride. If they haven’t hired a planner or coordinator, who are they supposed to ask their questions to?
I help my brides with their wedding day timelines (before and during the wedding) – who’s supposed to be where and at what time, and I’m there all day to answer all the questions a first time bride might have. After all, I’ve been to a few weddings. ; ) When my camera is in their face during the cake cutting, they whisper to me to ask which layer they’re supposed to cut. I’m there to quietly shoo your great aunt out of your bridal suite when you need a few quiet moments with just your girls. I’ll fix your dress and remind you how high to hold your bouquet, and to take just a few moments to soak this beautiful day in. These are questions that an amateur won’t be able to answer for you. So don’t think of me as just your photographer, but your personal wedding expert.
2. Because weddings aren’t suited for amateurs.
There are plenty of great newborn photographers who probably couldn’t shoot a wedding. Similarly, I wouldn’t be the one you’d call if you were looking for some sweet Anne Geddes style photos of your new little one. Just because someone is a photographer, does not mean they are a wedding photographer.
Studio and portrait photography are usually in very controlled environments. For instance, I schedule all my portrait sessions around sunrise or sunset because I know that’s when the light is going to look its best. If it’s storming, we’ll cancel. It’s simple. Weddings are completely out of my control. Although I’d prefer all wedding venues to feature large windows, and natural light pouring through, that’s not how it works. Sometimes your reception is in a dark restaurant at 9pm, and I’m working with only candle light. Sometimes it storms during our whole allotted portrait time and we have to make it work. It takes both the right skill and equipment to produce the results you’re looking for in these situations. A less experienced photographer might know exactly how to photograph a dark space, but if they haven’t invested the money in the right equipment, they simply won’t nail the shot. On the other hand, you may know someone with the best equipment on the market, but if they don’t have the wedding experience to back it up, it’s of no worth to you.
3. Because I’ve done this before.
It’s your wedding day. You’ve been announced into your reception for the very first time as Mr. & Mrs. and you couldn’t be more excited to get out on the dance floor and spend a few quiet moments with your new husband. Your song starts playing and this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. You can’t even wait to see the photos of you dancing in your beautiful dress with your love. Those sweet little glances and dance floor whispers. But when you get your wedding photos back, something is wrong – you don’t see any first dance photos. There must be a mistake. That friend you knew with the camera, who did you such a favor by photographing your wedding must have just misplaced those photos. But when you hear back, that’s not the case. They explain that since they had never shot a wedding, they thought the first dance came later in the night, so they decided to take a little break during the reception. They didn’t think anything important would happen while they were out, but it looks like they were wrong. You’ll never get that first dance back.
Professionals know what to look for. If I need to leave the room for any reason, I know to talk to the DJ and let them know when I leave and when I’ll be back so we don’t miss a beat, and you don’t miss any photos.
4. Because your “I do’s” should never need a redo.
If you hire a photographer to take family photos and you’re unhappy with the results, you may be out some money, but you can hire another photographer the following week to get you the results you’re looking for. That’s not how weddings work. Think about all the hard work you’ve put into planning the wedding of your dreams. When will you ever have a room filled with your favorite people, and your favorite things together again? Your niece will grow out of her flower girl dress in just a few months. Your maid of honor won’t have that cute baby bump anymore, and by the time you get your photos back, your family will all be settled back into their homes around the country. You’ll never get a chance to redo your wedding day. Hire someone you trust to make sure you won’t need to.
5. Because photos matter.
I’ll end with the obvious. Your wedding photos matter more than you realize right now. I know you’re thinking about how to impress your guests with the best food you can find, or making sure your peonies are the exact shade of pink you’ve always dreamt of. But in a few years, people will have no idea what kind of food you served, or even what color your flowers were. They won’t remember the cake, or if you handed out favors or not. But you’ll be left with the photos that capture that exact shade of pink you love so much. You’ll look back and talk about how young you looked, and how much you had to learn. You’ll thumb through that special photo of your husband hugging your mom and that little tear in her eye. And for a moment, you’ll remember those butterflies in your stomach the day you married your love. I don’t want you to look back on your wedding day with any regrets. Let yourself have the photos you know you’ll cherish. You deserve that.
I asked a couple of my friends who had wedding regrets about their experiences, and this is what they had to say.
Please do your research. Please don’t hire anyone who doesn’t know how to handle your wedding with importance. Please hire a professional.