If you are freshly engaged and starting to think about vendors for your day, CONGRATS! Enjoy this new season of your relationship and don’t rush too quickly into planning 🥂💍✨
That being said… I’m sure you ~haven’t not~ seen the posts about how crazy busy the next few years will be for vendors. Rule of thumb: start with your highest priority vendors. Dream venue in mind? Start there. Florist you’ve been following for years? Start there. (& if you’re anything like me) A photo and/or video team for which you can recite their previous couples’ wedding locations and aesthetics? Start there 😂
[Stay tuned for future posts about other players on your dream team!]
Part 1! Why are they important?
All jokes aside, photographers and videographers are key to creating your best day ever. Make sure that you find photo and video vendors that meet your needs, communicate effectively, and (most importantly) make you smile!! Stay tuned for a #part2 about questions to ask and things to look for when selecting your photographer and videographer. In the meantime, here are some reasons WHY these humans are so critical:
⏰ To be very honest, you probably spend more of your wedding day with this person than with the person you are marrying. Sound crazy? Think about it. Your photographer / videographer is generally around whenever you are with your spouse (first look, ceremony, pics, reception) and then they are with you in the moments BEFORE you see your spouse on wedding day (getting ready, you and the gals, etc.). Mhmm… exactly. Mind blown. Make sure you like them as humans.
💓 These vendors are creating a product for you that lives on beyond wedding day. If your photo and video teams can help you feel relaxed, authentic, and comfortable in front of the camera, you will be SO HAPPY with the final product!
💡 Photographers and videographers have a LOT of wedding experience. Especially if you aren’t hiring a planner or coordinator, these humans can help shape the timeline of your day. They have preferred ways of working, ideal time allotments for each shot, and know which parts of the day tend to move slower, faster, not happen, etc. They are super smart and a great resource of wedding knowledge!
To my photo and video friends out there, I am constantly amazed by you. You are geniuses in every right. Thanks for being special humans to all the newlyweds you work with!
Part 2! How do I know they are awesome?
I was an operational consultant in a previous life, so forgive me as I break this process into three steps - (1) identify the need, (2) do your research, and (3) talk! This process remains pretty consistent across all your vendor selection processes, but let's chat about how it breaks down for hiring the photo and/or video team of your ✨dreams.✨
IDENTIFY THE NEED: any good vendor selection process begins with a thorough understanding of what you and your fiancé are looking for! Because, after all, how can you hire someone and expect them to do a fabulous job if you don't even know what a fabulous job looks like? Take some time exploring the world of photography and videography. Some questions to think through:
What photography / videography style do you prefer? (article here from The Knot that talks through common styles)
How would you describe your personalities? Are you playful and laughing all day? Awkward in front of the camera? Subdued and contemplative? How will your creative team play into this on wedding day?
What is your budget for photo and/or video?
DO YOUR RESEARCH: now that you have a clear vision of what you are looking for, start searching, my friend! A few places to begin:
Ask your venue and/or other vendors for recs! More often than not, these vendors have worked with allllll sorts of photographers and videographers. Take note of their recommendations, but make sure to still do your own diligence
Wedding Wire and The Knot house hundreds of photographers and/or videographers. Use their search functions to filter down to your specific geography, budget, etc.
Instagram! This one is slightly more chaotic and requires digging, BUT Instagram is truly the hotspot to learn a photographers' and/or videographers' work and personality. Try searching for relevant hashtags (#indianapoliswedding .. #auburnweddingphotographer .. etc.) to add a bit of structure to the scavenger hunt
If you are really creepy and already have your venue booked, Google "[venue name] [city] wedding photography." Especially if you are celebrating at a well-known venue, you may come across some helpful blog posts (often published by the photographer)!
Talk to friends, coworkers, and acquaintances! When I say your hair stylist knows all, she knows all. Learn about who other people have used, how they liked them, how they didn't like them, etc. Remember! Take all with a grain of salt and still do your own research, but it's a good starting spot
But of course, the process isn't THAAAAT easy. Do some ~desktop research~ before reaching out for an informational call. Maybe it should be called mobile research? TBD. Either way, snoop!! Some things to look for / pay close attention to:
Does their style match the style you previously identified in step 1? Did you say you wanted light, airy, classic photos and these have a darker filter and feel? 🚨 Did you say you wanted a video that used speeches running through the entire video, but ALL of these videos feature yacht rock as background music? 🚨 You get it.
In addition to style, check that they've shot at a venue similar to yours and/or feel comfortable doing so. Example: churches can be really dark. Does this person only showcase outdoor venues with all sorts of beautiful light? Photo and video people are experts at what they do, just make sure they are comfortable and experts in what you need them to do
If prices are listed online, make sure they are within your budget! Photographers and videographers price their packages based on their experience, how much time they will spend with you on wedding weekend, the amount of time and effort culling and editing takes, their promised turn around time, the number of images you get / length of video... their prices are fair. Don't inquire with someone that is crazy out of your budget! Respect their pricing and know what works for you and what doesn't
Reviews, reviews, reviews! I don't care if these are on Wedding Wire, Facebook, Instagram tags, Google... learn what other people are saying about this person and their team! On Wedding Wire and The Knot, I like to sort from worst review to best. This allows me to quickly identify any pain points in a vendor's offering
Can you get a general feel for who they are as a person through their social media, website, etc.? Is it giving you the right "vibes?" I know this is silly, but it is important! Online presence should not be taken as a comprehensive view of who a person is, but can give you a sneak peek into how formal they are, how much they will talk to you, etc.
CHAT: after completing the above two steps, you should be able to narrow down your photographers / videographers to a shortlist. Now it's time to reach out! Send a quick note to your prospective vendors with your wedding date and location and ask to set up a time to chat. Yes, you will be getting on the phone (or grabbing coffee if they are local!).
There are TONS of resources out there to guide these discussions. Organizations like Brides, The Knot, Here Comes The Guide, and Minted all have excellent lists of questions to ask (inclusive of logistics, styling, packages, contracting, etc.). I've highlighted some of the (what I would consider to be) *key* questions and added a few fun ones of my own. In no particular order:
Will you be shooting our wedding day or will it be someone else on your team? Will you have a second shooter or any assistants with you?
Can you explain your backup process to me? How are my photos kept safe?
What piece of the wedding day do you feel is often overlooked, but can, in reality and if given proper time, be a SUPER special moment and lead to fab photos?
Can we look through a full gallery you've delivered recently?
If you were a breakfast food and/or drink, what would you be and why?
What kind of prep do you do for wedding day and what prep do you expect we do?
What is it like to work with you on wedding day?
Describe your ideal weekend!
While this list isn't comprehensive, it can be a starting spot! Make sure you walk out of the conversation with a firm understanding of their packages, pricing, and next steps.. and that you have a good feel for their personality. Ultimately, the decision comes down to (1) them meeting your identified needs and (2) jiving with your personalities. Remember part 1 of this post? You gotta love them as a human ✔️