Choosing who and how to capture your wedding

After the vows have been said, the rings exchanged, the toasts made and the unruly relative escorted off the dance floor, what will always last from a wedding are the photos.

Figuring out how to best preserve the memories from your big day is one of the most important decisions in the wedding-planning process; with all the time, energy and often money that couples put into their wedding, they should be able to revisit those special moments for years to come.

Before embarking on your photo-planning journey, you should know about how much you want to spend on photos; going into meetings with photographers and being overwhelmed by the price tag is another added stress you don’t need. Photography and videography are typically in the top-tier of most expensive wedding aspects, but where they fall in the list of expenses is up to the couple’s priorities.

Like with most steps in the planning process, independent research should come first: Rely on personal referrals and lists of LGBT-friendly photographers to pull together names of vendors you might want to meet with. Make sure to check out their work online before setting up an in-person; wedding photography style really can run the gamut — some focus on the formal and traditional, while others tend towards the candid and alternative — so it’s important to know a bit about your photographer before you meet.

Almost as important as the quality of the work is your connection with the photographer. Having someone behind the lens who is impersonal or with whom you don’t “click” could pose a problem; they’ll likely be there throughout the duration of your wedding day, so having someone with whom you have a good rapport is essential. 

Along that vein, some couples may want to ask a friend or famgly member who has some photographic experience to document the day; while that might appeal to your wallet, enlisting loved ones as vendors can bring its own boatload of headaches. Google if you want to hear some horror stories …

When you do decide on your photographer, like most other aspects, don’t be afraid to ask if they’re willing to customize a package if you’re trying to cut some costs; because of the wealth of options that usually go into wedding photography packages (really, there are a lot), many wedding photogs seem willing to be flexible with taking away certain aspects or adding others, depending on the taste and preference of the couple. 

Speaking of the options … One of the first questions will be whether you want video along with your photos. Some companies offer the two together, while other photographers work alone and can recommend good videographers. The choice always comes down to personal preference, but the wealth of online testimonials from brides and grooms lamenting their decision to not have a videographer was enough to convince this couple! If you do choose to have video, there’s then the question of which style — documentary versus cinematic versus a fusion — as well as the extent of editing and the final video products offered. 

On the photo side, couples may have to consider questions such as the number of photogs they want present (having an assistant to the main photographer means they can catch a number of perspectives) and the number of hours they’ll work, as most offer a set number of hours in varying packages with an additional fee per hour. There’s also the question of the number of edited and raw photos couples want, as well as preferences of print versus digital. Many companies offer samplings of both; while nearly everything is trending towards online, having professionally printed wedding photographs is a time-honored tradition that many are not yet willing to set aside. Photo products — prints, frames, canvases, “parent” albums — are commonly included in wedding packages. While some couples may forego ordering these products from their photographer and opt instead to make their own utilizing online photo sites, the quality of the finished product should be a consideration.

Some companies offer engagement sessions as part of a package or as an add-on. While such an option may seem superfluous for longtime couples now legally tying the knot, it could be helpful to have a practice session with your photographers, to get used to their style behind the camera and to become more comfortable in front of the camera. Plus, professional pre-wedding shots are great to incorporate into save-the-dates and invites (not to mention birthday and Christmas gifts).

While anyone with an iPhone nowadays seems to style him or herself an amateur photographer, top-quality wedding photography can’t be delivered by just anyone who can point and click. To find the right team, educate yourself about the industry and come up with what you think may be a longer-than-necessary list of questions. The more you learn about your photographer’s vision and offerings, the better equipped you’ll be to pick the right person.