My email is so active right now with planning couples, the ring goes on and you can almost hear the "Eye of the Tiger" theme song playing in the background. The time has come, to plan your wedding! Over the years you have seen ideas, you have had inspiration, you have a vision. But now to execute it? Where do you start?! I LOVE to educate future brides and grooms about photography options!!! There are so many money saving ways to put on a wedding, so many resources and ideas you may not know exist! Below are some email conversations I have had over the years with initial emails from planning couples looking for a photographer, I have put the cold hard truth next to these questions.
Also added 2014 couples who had one shooter and either 6 or 8 hours of coverage, all happily married ;)
1. "We are looking for two shooters"
If this is something you know you want, you have solid reasons for this or you have experience with two shooters, or have specific events going on at the very same time that one shooter couldn't possibly capture then I totally understand. However, if you just "think" you need two shooters (because more is better right?) or "heard" from Suzie Q you absolutely need two shooters, you should ask yourself why exactly? What's the importance of two shooters to you and your wedding specifically? Because what worked for Suzie Q may not work for you and your wedding. I typically shoot solo, I usually bring an assistant to assist me with my bags, equipment and any running that needs to be done. I usually deliver between 500-800 photos on a typical 8 hour wedding day. A second shooter is great for different angles of the ceremony (usually swapping placement with me) and to catch more candid moments throughout the day. Also nice to get the groom getting ready or shooting groomsmen while I shoot bridesmaids. I still can do all that solo however. I had couples state that their venue was large so they wanted a second shooter due to space. I understand that, but still, the bride and groom are the focus of the day and no matter how big the space, I will be near them. If your not on a budget, I would say go ahead with the second shooter if that fits your wishes, but if you are on a budget, I would consider bashing this idea and not make it a concrete requirement.
Hard Truth: You should consider the idea that for the same cost, you could end up with two shooters with less experience combined than one shooter with a lot of experience.
2. "We want 24 hours of coverage"
Ok, just kidding but more coverage probably makes sense to you in the beginning, again the more coverage the better right? However 12 hours of coverage will cost you more than 8 hours of coverage and what will happen in those 4 hours that you need professional coverage? 12-8pm is my most typical wedding timeline give or take, I have never felt I missed something big outside of those hours and I never had any complaints that something big was missed. The most important moments need to be covered by a hired professional. Getting into dress, first look, couple moments, wedding party, family photos, ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner and toasts, first dance. Typically- all those moments happen within an 8 hour timeframe. I know that makes your wedding go by SO fast, but stick to the reality, It's going to go by fast no matter what. If your not on a budget, again- go ahead and add the extra coverage if it makes you happy!
Hard Truth: More is not better. If your on a budget, consider a 6 or 8 hour coverage timeline from your favorite hired professionals. I have shot a ton of 4 or 6 hour weddings! and Still a happy ending ;)
3. "We're on a budget"
I was a bride on a budget. I completely understand this concept with total honesty. What you need to do is focus less on budget and more on priority. Move your resources around a bit. How important are those themed paper napkins? those monogrammed robes? or buying all those details for centerpieces? For my own wedding I knew my photography budget would be the largest chunk of money spent outside of our venue/ meal because my photos were my priority. I was prepared for that. I shifted resources to make that happen. I deleted some items I "thought" I wanted ( I don't even remember what those were anymore). Did you know you can rent ALL of your decor? not buy it ? and it's affordable to rent! Wedding photography in Wisconsin ranges from $1500-$6,000 + depending on coverage time, extras like prints and albums, second shooters, ect.. So be prepared for those numbers.
Hard Truth: Keep your photography simple if your on a budget, pay for one shooter that you love for X amount of hours that you can afford. Most photographers have several options for packages you can choose from.
4. "We are overwhelmed booking vendors"
100% yes. This is overwhelming! You know you want a photographer, a florist, a band or DJ but did you know HOW many are out there?!? Your emailing everyone who catches your eye but guess what....they email back! Now you have 17 emails from 17 different photographers, how are you to sift through this information and make a choice on only one?! I know thats tough and scary and making these adult decisions suck. But really, your going to have to make a choice and probably pretty soon. Did you know I get between 5-10 inquiries a week? most for the same wedding dates. Yes- it's true, other people are getting married on YOUR wedding day and may steal your favorite vendors. Am I saying make hasty quick choices? absolutely not. (Please don't) But I am saying, if you connect with someone and they have the style, pricing and outlook your looking for, I would consider it a priority to commit to that person. (when its right) I have people inquire with me all the time and then after some discussing we either go our separate ways or book the date.
Hard truth: Either way, your going to have to choose a vendor at some point- Don't be afraid to make a commitment to the one that you love and connect with.
5. "We will get back to you"
This doesn't sound scary at first, it's a casual, breezy answer- you have a lot going on and will get back to them when you have time. These vendors can wait a few weeks. But remember what I said above, others are inquiring with your favorite vendors for YOUR precious wedding date! (How DARE someone else choose your date!) I can't tell you how many times I have heard "The venue I wanted is already booked" Please take my advice on this, there are some really advanced planners in the world! (AKA brides on top of it) I have FIVE 2017 weddings on my books. FIVE! and they have been booked for a long while and it JUST turned 2016, so if your reading the latest bridal magazine timeline that says from 6-8 months to book your photographer, you may find that's bad advice. Can you still find vendors? of course, remember how many you found? but will your top favorites be taken? maybe. My advice is to book between 10-15 months in advance. So the phrase "we will get back to you" may hurt you in the long run. You may email your vendors back in two months after finals or after the holidays or after vacation and find that they have committed to someone else.
Hard truth: Booking weddings is the photographers job, their source of income, their way of making a living, so they will probably go with whoever books the date first.
I hope that you heard something helpful above for inquiring with a photographer. Maybe at least it will help you think a little more concrete about what you really want for your photography. If not, you got to see a few pretty photos right?