The biggest advice I would give is, do not be influenced by your budget....to begin with!
Of course your budget will affect your final decision making on much of your wedding day plans but when it comes to choosing the right photographer be led by images not cost. Let me explain...
Following your wedding day it is the images you will be left with so it is important that it is the images that inform your choice of wedding photographer, not the initial cost. Choose a photographer that has a style you like, no...a style you LOVE...one that you feel has images you can imagine yourself 'in' and that captures the occasion in a way that you would like your own wedding day to be photographed.
Why not have the photographer of your choice? Find out what they can do for you within your budget, then negotiate if necessary. If your photographer of choice is outwith your intended budget, is it better to have a small collection of images from your day that are absolutely amazing, exceeding your expectations, or is it best to go with a cheaper option that will give you more images but perhaps lack that little bit of 'sparkle' you deserve. Remember, of course, your guests are sure to have a bundle of images from the day to share with you, so why not invest in something a little smaller and extra special, if the budget won't stretch to full day coverage or you don't want the complete day photographed professionally.
It's not always about what we can or cannot afford, it's about priorities and for some photographs are really important and others less so...it's what is right for your day that matters.
If images are important then be image led, catch up with your photographer of choice for a chat and coffee then, if they feel like the right fit for you and your guests, book them!
When having that chat & coffee remember:
2 things matter - images and that the photographer is the right fit for you and your guests.
Your photographer should bring a selection of printed images/albums for you to look at, even if you are going for a digital only order. Take a good look at the quality of photographs (more info on this in an up and coming blog) and that images show their ability to capture all the emotion - fun, laughter, tears and romance - from the wedding day. Don't forget to look out for a little creativity with Bride and Groom shots too! Be careful, I've seen some amazing images taken by a few photographers that have been so low in quality they would not enlarge for a piece of wall art for the couple, so perhaps ask the question...what size can I print the images I receive to?
Does your photographer of choice appear to have the right approach for you and your guests on the day of your wedding - relaxed, flexible, obliging, organised and experienced (you'll need it on the day) and able to take a guiding hand in those group photographs where required (the hardest and most time consuming part of the day, from a photographic perspective).
With a wealth of experience, having seen many weddings from start to finish, they should also be able to offer an insight into many other aspects of your day that you may find helpful.
If you're happy book it - it's one less thing to worry about and brings you closer to getting everything organised for your wedding day.
So time to sign that booking form. Carefully read over the booking form and discuss any points you are unsure about. A good photographer is not going to try and catch you out with terms and conditions, they are there to inform, guide and protect all concerned. Your photographer wants you to be delighted with their work and the images you receive so most will go above and beyond for you. However, do read the details of the booking form carefully and ensure you are clear and happy with what you will receive.
Your photographer should be insured - public liability and indemnity insurance (incase something unforeseen happens to the images).
What doesn't matter (so much):
Albums don't matter, photographic packages don't matter, nothing really matters too much except the images...WHY...because once you have selected the photographer of your choice, if they don't show you albums and options that delight you (which they will if you've chosen wisely), then tell them you have seen.............and can they provide that for you. Your photographer should say, "sure, let me see what I can do".
Client reviews, awards and competition prizes can be appealing when considering who you should book for your wedding day photography but remember, not every good photographer bothers with reviews (yes they should), not every good photographer bothers with awards and competition (yes they should) and not every photography tutor, press photographer, landscape photographer...you get the idea...have the skills and experience to produce great wedding images. So be image led by a professional wedding photographer.