Think of all the time, effort, and money you put into your wedding. It normally takes months of planning and includes people from all aspects of your life coming together just for you. There is just too much to take in all at once, and – regrettably – the one thing that is often overlooked, is what they’ll have to show for it all afterwards!

Couples always say their day was a blur, with so much going on and so much to remember – that afterwards, all their priorities switch from planning their wedding – to having something to actually show for it. No matter how little the photography meant before the wedding, it becomes the only thing that matters afterwards! You won’t be wearing that dress again and he’s already returned the tux… Your guests ate all the food (or the caterers took it home)… The cake was cut… The vows were spoken, and now the day is only a memory. From this point on, all you have is the photos… (and love, of course.)

Still, wedding photography is an investment, and like all investments, there is some risk and uncertainty involved.  You can’t just hire the first photographer you stumble upon, nor can you just assume that they are all the same either. Photography is art, created by an artist, and that means it is interruptive and not easy – if even possible to define.  A few select images in a tiny portfolio should give you pause and make you suspicious. The more photos you see, the more you’ll be able to get a sense of the results you can expect.

Do you ever notice everyone claims they don’t have enough money, or they’re trying to save money!? Okay, it’s partly true too… but they still drive a new car, wear expensive jeans, have all the cable channels, and eat out all the time, get name brand, and probably just got a tatoo? We all are guilty of this to some point. We save it here, so we can spend it there. But saving money by skimping on the photography – for whatever reason – could cost far more then you think. Consider the following notes:

  • Using a Friend or Relative:

    This is the biggest and most common mistake. Do you ever notice that anything free comes at a cost? It’s hard to even plunge the depths of all the horror stories that come from this choice. Just Google it! There’s a million reasons of why this doesn’t work, but the main reason is: It takes years and practice to become good at something – and even more to become great at it!
    Question: Would you have your Aunt Sue (the beautician) remove your ruptured appendix? Even if she did it for free? I’m sure you see my point?
    Experience matters, and – if the photos mean anything to you – this isn’t the time to experiment on a portfolio or have someone try their hand a new hobby!

  • Beware the Cheap / Low-Price Photographer:

    Nobody does a job where they lose money… at least they don’t for long! You need to question the logic in their prices. A low-rate photographer can only make money by cutting corners  – or  worse yet – by sticking it to you later on. We get underbid all the time by photographers making promises and saying whatever people want to hear. “Oh yeah, I can easily shoot your wedding after dark with no lights!” Of course, afterwards you’ll have horrible photos, but by then, it’s too late and the damage is done and the money is gone.
    We are upfront about our prices and what we offer. Plus, we put it all in writing too. You shouldn’t get trapped by a photographer re-defining the package, or renegotiating after the wedding.
    Also, we got a lot of calls from couples that had their photographer dump them for a better paying job. Usually we can’t help because the couple expects another ‘cheap deal‘, which is precisely why they got into this mess and why their original photographer moved on to greener deals!

  • Save Money / Hire a Photography Student:

    Oh please, say you aren’t even considering this option!? This idea was suggested on Good Morning America, and had a huge backlash from their viewers. (Rightly so!) This is a one-time thing, and you only have one time to get it right. Working with someone who understands what it takes to get it right and has proven themselves over and over again is the closest thing to a ‘sure thing‘ you will ever get. It seems crazy to spend a penny for a photographer to practice! Besides, you aren’t doing yourself any favor saving a little bit of money and ending up with photos that look like they were taken by a student.

  • Do Your Homework:

    Regrettably, couples regularly overlook the most valuable resource that is available to them these days, which is ‘reviews‘ from past clients. You’d have to be crazy not to see what people are saying about something this important. Reviews are probably your best indication of what you will get (good or bad), and is a terrific way to really see the character and quality of what you are paying for. Reviews can clarify why different photographers charge different amounts, and gives you certainty in allowing yourself to spend a bit more on something that is worthy of the money.
    Still, price is not the only indication of what you will get. Couples make the mistake of being caught by ‘reverse psychology‘ often as well, and will hire the most expensive photographer they find – as a way of assuring themselves they have ‘the best‘, but price alone – without some homework – signifies nothing at all. Expensive alone doesn’t guarantee a good result.

Value should be your objective – not the price – because value isn’t defined by price. Value is defined by getting something worth paying for! You’ll find value by going with a proper balance of your heart (we love this photographer) and mind (we can afford them) and gut (we can trust them). I discuss ‘Money Well Spent‘ in a previous article, and in there I suggest asking yourself the following question:

” Would you rather spend a little money on something you regret, or a lot of money on something you love!? “

Spending a bit more makes total sense when you look at it like that. It’s an investment with a reward later on. Photos are the one thing that you’ll have after the wedding that define your day, that you’ll have to show your children, and you can cherish forever! Facebook and your iPad probably won’t be around 10 years from now, (and even if they are, I doubt you’ll use them), so don’t settle for that quick-fix now either! These moments don’t come lightly, nor do they come often, so don’t end up regretting your decision about photography as soon as the wedding ends. It will be a choice you will live with for the rest of your live.

I noticed Huffington Post published almost a duplicate article not long after I wrote this one entitled: How NOT to choose a wedding photographer. It has a few other factors that you might want to consider as well, like being too busy, (which might mean less personalized attention), and being recommended by another vendor or your coordinator (which might be a little kickback, buddy-buddy system going on)… so be careful and do your homework.

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