As a wedding professional for over 17 years I've dealt with squeezing into many a wedding budget! And I know there is many articles, blog post, and frankly well intention bad advice floating around about how to get more for less. But I have heard MANY a horror story about "great deals" that left wedding couples disappointed or downright duped! So here are 5 tips on how to get the most VALUE from your wedding photographer.
1. do your research
You should ask lots of questions and feel like you 100% know and understand not only what your photographer's packages include, what their experience and skill level is, but also in asking questions get an idea for what their personality is like. If you are at a loss for what questions to ask, I put together a list of 5 questions to ask before you hire your photographer that you should really check out!
2. All about the second photographer
A lot of photographers (myself included) have a second photographer as part of their wedding packages, I love having a second photographer shooting a wedding with me, and it add a lot of value to your wedding photos. They will be able to capture more moments, more angles, and things that I just can't on my own. I have yet to figure out how to be in two places at once, so if you really want photos of the cocktail hour, or the guys getting ready as well as the girls, a second photographer doubles the coverage without doubling the cost.
3. Have a clear timeline
I don't know if I should have this header as a clear timeline or a REALISTIC timeline? Before you book your photographer you should have a good idea of what the timeline for the day will be. When the photographer needs to show up, and when they will be done. Don't try and pack 6 hours of photography coverage into 4 hours, you'll only end up rushing and stressed. Also know that if you want your photographer to cover something at the very end of the night, like a sparkler exit... that will most likely eat up a lot of our coverage time if we have to stay until that event happens. The formal and family photos also have to be a realistic goal. They can eat up a lot of time (and throw off your whole timeline) if we are trying to get 100 family photos in the span of 15 mins. Above all you want your photographer to be someone who it flexible and accommodating because even the best laid plans go awry sometimes.
4. Don't hire a friend with a nice camera
While I always try and be kind and understanding to couples situation....this is one area where I have just heard WAY TO MANY horror stories to not be absolutely firm on this! It breaks my heart to hear of couples not getting their photos or getting really terrible photos. You are putting so much value into you marriage commitment (which is awesome!) I encourage you to put value into the person who will help keep those memories and moments alive. A true professional has put time and effort into their business, growing their skills, becoming better every year. All in the name of making sure your love is documented in all it's glory. A family member or friend with a nice camera just can't compare.
5. it's okay to ask about discounts
Now some other photographers may have want my head for this... so I do not speak for everyone. But I'm okay with you asking if you qualify for any discounts. I will let couples know if their wedding date falls under my "off season" discount. I know not all photographers offer them because whether your wedding is in June or January it's still the same amount of work, but for me I have a lot less going on in January than June and if I book your wedding in the off season I *might* just be able to have a weekend off in the summer, so it's worth it to me to try and book off season weddings. I also offer military discounts...because...well I may watch too many military homecoming videos and they always make me cry, so in my very own small little way I want to say "thank you"
I do want to stress that I feel there is a difference between asking for a discount...and asking IF you qualify for any discounts. Also don't be afraid when a photographer says they can make you a custom package...I know that word sounds fancy and expensive...but really it's just our way of getting you the perfect fit for your needs and budget!
Holly Kangas, mother, photographer, part time chef, and project runway winner wanna be!
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