Choose your wedding photographer carefully and book early!
While it's perfectly natural to concentrate your efforts on planning the perfect wedding day, it's also worth thinking about the many years that follow, when you'll want to enjoy your memories of the day. You'll have a few souvenirs, the lucky horseshoes and the wedding gown, of course, but the best reminders will be your photographs.
You're sure to appreciate a great set of photos, captured by an observant photographer who notices and records both the main events and the unexpected moments that will make your wedding unique.
As well as finding a photographer who shoots in a style that you like, it's really important to choose someone who you're comfortable to have working at quite close quarters with you for most of the day.
If you want to save money, you could ask your Uncle Joe. He's a wonderful photographer, but he really could do without the responsibility of shooting your wedding, especially when it starts raining. Let Joe (or Joanna) enjoy the wedding and spend a little more on your wedding to be sure of getting a set of photos that will capture your memories for ever.
Your photographer will take quite an active part in organising you and your guests at various times of the day – when you arrive at the wedding venue, after the ceremony and for the location shots. Good photographers are confident in their ability to direct the wedding party and guests into positions or activities that yield the pictures you want, while maintaining good humour on all sides.
Ask any recently married friends to tell you about their photographer and to show you their photos. Use the internet to Google for local wedding photographers and check their online portfolios or Facebook – bearing in mind that a very small selection of wonderful images might be only the best dozen of the last ten years.
Arrange a meeting with one or more photographers so that you can view a good number of images from a few completed weddings. That will be more revealing than a few website examples and will give you a reasonable idea of what to expect if you appoint the photographer to take on your own wedding. It's worth also asking to see albums or wedding books that the photographer recommends and supplies.
A location shoot is a fun way to wind down after the wedding ceremony, at a beach or other scenic spot. You could include some of your family or friends and photographers have favourite places for this kind of photography. You may have ideas of your own and should discuss these, plus an alternative rainy day location.
Making a choice based purely on price may lead to disappointment, but be sure that the photographer's charge will be within your budget. As well as confirming the attendance fee, you need to know the price of prints and albums, so that you can work out the actual, full cost of the service. Having high resolution images on disc included, so you can buy prints from an internet processor can offer worthwhile savings.
In fairness to the photographer, you should bear in mind that the job does not stop when he or she leaves your reception. Every image must be reviewed and those selected for your package should be processed to present the optimum colour, contrast and brightness. This part of the job can easily add two days to the time spent at the wedding.
The fee also has to cover travel, updating equipment and essential third party insurance against accidents on the wedding day. It's worth paying a fair price for a quality service on a day that cannot be repeated.
Agree how much of your wedding day you want covered and check if there are extra charges for additional time. Typically, a photographer's full day attendance may cover the bride and groom's preparations, arrival at the venue, the ceremony or service, groups (even if you hate groups, grannies and aunties love them), a location shoot, cake cutting, table shots, speeches and the first few dances.
Last, but not least, book your photographer as far ahead as you can – popular dates, such as July, can be sold out a year ahead.