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Choosing a wedding photographer can be a difficult and stressful time during your wedding planning.

Busy months mean other couples are fighting for your date

The sooner you lock down a date and a venue, the sooner you have time to try and book a specific photographer! For example, May, June, September, and October are our busiest months. Factor in that I only photograph one wedding per day and max two per weekend and you’ll want to talk to me as soon as you can. If you’re planning on a holiday weekend or a fun date like 10-10-20, those tend to book up quicker than a regular weekend. The rule of thumb is typically 9-12 months before a wedding.

Saturdays are busy and so are Memorial and Labor Day weekends

Fridays and Sundays are different and are typically off-season for me. Six to nine months is usually acceptable. The only time I caution against waiting for a non-Saturday is if it is a holiday weekend (Memorial Day, Labor Day, New Year’s Eve), as non-Saturdays are way more common with an extended weekend.

Contact your dream photographer before you nail down a date to ensure availability

To guarantee a specific photographer, my best advice is to think of a month (or season) in the year you want to have your wedding. Talk to a venue and get a few open dates and then contact the photographer and see what they have available. They’ll be able to tell you if a wedding date is already booked, open, or pending with another couple.

Earlier the better when it comes to engagement photos and save the dates

The sooner a couple books their photographer – the more time they have for planning, timeline design, and building that friendship. Also, think about what you want to do for your engagement session. In Ohio, we have 4 very distinct seasons. If you book me 12-18 months before your wedding, you have plenty of options to decide on what season you’re thinking. You also have time to get your engagement photos done and order save the dates – which usually need to go out 8-12 months before your date.

Your photographer can most likely only take one wedding per day

Many other vendors can take on multiple couples in a day. Your DJ and cake decorator most likely take on several jobs a day and have several different people available to deliver and execute your request. With photographers that do not have a big team and take multiple weddings a day, one wedding per day is all they are able to do. You want to ensure you’re getting a photographer that matches your exact style, personality, and someone you will want to spend the entire day with! The more flexible you are with a date, timeline, and letting the photographer help you with their years of experience, the better and less stressful your planning process and day will be.

How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

You really need to have trust that your photographer will capture all of the moments you need them to and you need to let go of control a bit. Read on to learn how to let go and trust your wedding photographer!

Ask your friends

Who did your friends use for their wedding day where they were just blown away? From any of your friends’ wedding photos, whose photos did you just LOVE? Word of mouth is everything and is such a great and easy way to find your photographer!

Search on Instagram

Check out the feeds from some photographers you stalk. If you’re new to wedding photographer stalking, in Toledo, #toledoweddingphotographer and #toledoweddingphotography are super popular hashtags! If you’re not local to Toledo, search your city. And remember, photographer’s do travel! You’ll see so many more photos by quickly stalking on Instagram than you will by going to a bunch of different websites.

Know your photography style

Do you love photos with a vintage vibe? Candids? More traditional posed photos? There is a photographer for every style and every couple. Find what you’re drawn to and choose a photographer based on that. It’s VERY important that you find a style that aligns with your style….you’ll be looking at these photos 5, 10, 20 years down the road!

Vibe with your photographer

Seriously, this is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. You’re with your photographer all day. If you meet someone who makes rainbows and moonbeams shoot out of your eyes and you fall in love, say YES and grab them while you can! You’re with your wedding photographer on the single most important day of your life – the day you officially start your lives together – and you want someone there that you’re comfortable and familiar with.

Ask other vendors for advice

Maybe finding the perfect florist to execute your unique vision is what you’ve always dreamed of. More than likely, that florist has some photographers they rave about! They’ll be able to give you all kinds of recommendations past just a wedding photographer.

Read their reviews

Reviews just don’t lie. A photographer can have all kinds of things to say about themselves and then you read the reviews and see that what they are saying isn’t translating to their couples. You need to find someone you trust who isn’t going to under-deliver on your wedding day. Check out The Knot and WeddingWire for the most reviews in a single location.

Go with your gut

I am such a big advocate for this! Similar to #4, if you met with someone or saw their website and just CONNECTED and what they say resonated – REACH OUT! If you have met them and you just know they are it, BOOK THEM!

Know what good photography costs

Good photography isn’t cheap and cheap photography isn’t good. Don’t blow your budget, but know that after your wedding day is said and done, you’ll be left with these memories and not much more! Plan on spending a minimum of $3,000 in Toledo for a quality wedding photographer.

Think about what you want

Digital files only versus an album, a photographer that will be loud and directional versus someone soft-spoken and more in the background? Research and dive deep into thinking about how your photographer will act, dress, and what they’ll be delivering you after the wedding day is said and done.

Hire a full-time professional

Not only will a full-time professional be able to be there for you more than a part-time person with another income (you don’t need to be someone’s side hustle! It’s your wedding day!), but they’re more likely to be fully insured and a legal business. Hire someone always with at least 2 camera bodies, back up memory cards, and business insurance (some venues require proof of insurance).

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How to trust your photographer

You really need to have trust that your photographer will capture all of the moments you need them to and you need to let go of control a bit. Read on to learn how to let go and trust your wedding photographer!

You won’t always be in control of your wedding day

Control can be so hard to let go of, but when you have total control over a day, you lose sight of what’s right in front of you – your partner in their wedding attire! Think about the day for a moment – you’re looking at them as they walk down the aisle and you have the biggest smile on your face. Don’t let total control take that away from you! Moments with your family and friends and all the family groups? Trust an experienced professional (or two is better, a wedding coordinator and a photographer) has it taken care of.

Know what you like and don’t like for wedding photos, but don’t go Pinterest crazy

Have a concept of what you like, but don’t go full Pinterest board with an entire list of poses. You hired your photographer most likely due to their skill and the photos you saw on their website, and hopefully, those photos were created without a Pinterest board open on their phone. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Pinterest board for visual ideas of how your day will look and it can be VERY helpful when someone says, for example, that they like “romantic photos” because that can 100% mean different things to different people. I love being able to understand the day better and get a little glimpse into your overall vision.

Don’t hold back – be in the moment!

I find when people hold back and don’t get 100% comfortable in front of the camera, that barrier shows up through the lens. There is only so much I can do to make you relaxed and laughing and having fun, the rest is a wall that you’re putting up. Remove that wall, whether it is drinks with your photographer and you sharing your fears, opening up about recent weight gain preventing you from loving yourself, or explaining how much you hate your mother-in-law. Trust me, unloading some of that if it means feeling a closer and stronger connection with your photographer is totally worth it!

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