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How to Plan a Wedding

        Money | Financial Planning

Photography

The wedding photographs preserve forever the magnificence and magic of your wedding day. Your wedding video, on the other hand, tends to capture those precious and often spontaneous moments that defy the limitations of still photography.

Take the time to carefully select both the wedding photographer and videographer. Remember, these are the people who are in charge of recording your precious memories. Remember, you can click on the links for worksheets to help you with each step.

The Photography

Amazingly enough, the couple can plan, delight in, and obsess about their wedding day for 12 months, and then -- poof! -- everything's over before they know it. Even though the guests will appreciate every effort you both took to make this a memorable day, you both may find yourselves barely able to remember the menu, let alone the white roses at the end of the aisle.

For these reasons and a million more, your photographer will eventually (say, on your fifth wedding anniversary) become one of the most important persons to have attended your ceremony and reception.

Choosing a Photographer

Do your homework. Ask recently married couples for recommendations. Take a lot of uninterrupted time to study a photographer's portfolio. Look for technical skill, including clear, well-lit photos. Study the bride's and groom's faces: Was the photographer able to capture that nano-second where the bride's eyes expressed the love in her heart rather than the butterflies in her stomach? Despite being posed, do the traditional shots still have a sense of candid happiness, or do they seem flat and unanimated? Does the photographer use multiple-image, split-frame, or other creative techniques?

There are important questions for you both to ask during initial interviews with photographer candidates, such as the rate per hour, extra potential costs, photographer's attire, and number of assistants to be used. There are also definite ways to make the search for a photographer a little easier. For example, you should:

  • Start early. The best photographers are booked months in advance. Since you want plenty of time to interview and review more than one photographer, it's best to begin this task as soon as possible.
  • Ask to see friends' and relatives' wedding albums. Recommendations are great, but actually seeing the photographer's work is better still.
  • Attend bridal fairs. Photographers often have booths at these fairs. You can look at portfolios, collect business cards, and check for available dates. It's also a great way to see several photographers without having to drive all over town.
  • Ask your caterer, florist, and musicians for recommendations. These people are in the wedding business, and they've probably seen it all. Of course, their recommendations will probably be from a different perspective. For example, this photographer did not get in the way as food was served, and that photographer got right in the middle of the dance floor and captured every move. In the end, these are all important viewpoints that the average bride might not know to consider.
  • Interview several choices. You both may think that wedding photographs are all the same, but they really aren't. There are different levels of creativity, talent, and technical skill. After talking to several photographers, you'll begin to understand the differences, and you'll spot the right person.
  • Consider your chemistry with each photographer interviewed. While a photographer's portfolio is his best recommendation, it's also important to consider how you get along with this person. If you both prefer a take-charge, assertive person, look for these qualities during the interview. On the other hand, if you want someone who's laid-back and goes with the flow, watch for this attitude.
  • Consider a photographer's creativity. When reviewing a photographer's portfolio, look for black-and-white treatments, multiple images, and other creative techniques. Don't be shy about making special requests. If a friend's wedding album catches your eye, ask if you can borrow her book and show it to each photographer you interview.
  • Make sure your photographer has wedding-specific experience. Photographers who specialize in animal shots or formal portraits are probably not your best bet. You want someone who understands what a wedding album means.