Your photographs are a very important reminder of your wedding day, not just for you, but for your parents, friends, attendants, etc. It is vital to make sure that you have a good photographer that you can trust. This doesn’t necessarily mean having a professional wedding photographer; if you have a friend or relative who is a very good photographer and you want to rely on him or her, then that should be fine. Remember however that whoever takes the photographs will have one attempt at getting them right, you should only use a non professional if you can not afford to pay one. Don’t, however rely just on friends’ snapshots; these will be nowhere near the high quality that you will want for your special photographs. Another advantage of professional photographers is that their service is probably covered by insurance; certainly you will be eligible for compensation should something go horribly wrong with the film or with the final negatives.
Don’t rush into the decision of which photographer to have; take your time to make sure that you have the best possible deal. If you have a friend or neighbour in the same town whose wedding photographs are particularly good, ask her which photographer she used, Go round to all the local photographers and ask to see their brochures; some firms specialise in certain types of print. and you may know straight away that a particular firm is not the one you are looking for.
Once you have narrowed the choice slightly ask to see more examples of the work and also check what kind of package deal the firm offers. Some firms sell a deal that might include, for instance, pictures all through the day thirty prints from the proofs of your choice, and a free album to keep them in, all for a set sum; other prints ordered by guests will be extra. Other firms might offer simply a higher price for each print you choose, with no extra fee for the actual photography. Still other firms might do particular offers on ‘special effect’ photographs prints of the couple with a misty finish, or superimposed on a champagne glass or ribbon bow, or prints in heart shaped frames. Obviously which deal you choose depends on what your particular requirements and preferences are. If you are having a relatively small wedding and know that you will not want all that many photographs, you may find it more economical to choose one of the firms that simply charges per print. If you are having a very large wedding, and perhaps wanting photographs of all the guests, then you may do better with a firm that charges a flat fee for the day and then a smaller fee per print. Compare the prices stringently, and don’t let the firm push you into having a service that you don’t want.
Once you have settled on the firm that you feel will be best for your wedding, check that they have a photographer available for the day of your wedding. Make it clear whether you want photographs taken at your parents’ home, of the guests before the service, during the service itself, afterwards outside the Church, at the reception, and as you leave for your honeymoon. Specify whether you want just formal shots, just informal ones, or a mixture of both. Ask for all these points to be confirmed in writing; this may seem cold-blooded, but it is important to avoid any confusion later on. Double check that the firm has booked the times correctly including the time beforehand and the time that the reception is due to finish.
One point that it is important to get sorted out very early on in the proceedings is whether or not photographs and video recordings are allowed inside the church. This is the decision of the minister alone, and is not really open to negotiation; it is his church, and you must respect his decision. Some ministers permit photographs as long as no flashes or floodlights are used, others are happy as long as no photographs are taken during the actual marriage itself, while still others will not allow any photographs inside the church. Ask about this before you book your photographer , so that you can brief him or her accordingly.
Finally ask to see examples of the work done by the very photographer who will be covering your wedding, not just publicity shots for the firm in general; any reputable firm should be quite happy to show you these, so that you can assess his or her’ skill for yourself.