Like most brides, when I was planning my wedding I was looking for ways to cut costs without affecting my wedding vision too much. On reflection it’s hard to believe some of the sacrifices I was considering to make in place of things that weren’t so important. Our bride brains get side tracked by all the pretty details and we can forget what a wedding is actually about. At the time it felt easy to target wedding photography in my wedding budget, possibly because the value wasn’t a visual component on the actual wedding day. Having some keen amateur photographers in my family, all with good DSLR cameras my bride brain took over and thought “hey how difficult can it be… I do it for a living and it comes naturally to me so I’m sure it will for them too!” I still find it hard to admit I thought this, knowing how much training and practice it takes to be a wedding photographer.
Having sent my invitations to guests with a special note saying I wasn’t hiring a professional wedding photographer and that I would be providing discs for them to take away, along with stamped addressed envelopes for easy return to me. At this point I felt pretty confident, convincing myself that everything would be fine and the photographs received back would be beautiful and magical, and just as pretty as the ones I deliver to couples.
About a month later I started to wonder if I’d made the right decision. The worry of not having all my hard work captured beautifully, and the potential for not having natural couple portraits started to become overwhelming. The realisation of what could be started to kick in and the doubts where keeping me awake at night:
- What if every single photograph is blurry
- I so want a romanic soft look throughout my photographs – I know this can only be achieved with certain lens, unlikely to be owned by family and friends
- I may not like one photograph, and what if I feel ugly in every photograph
- Will all the details I spent so long putting together be captured, and captured well
In the end the worry was just too much, and just had to find the money to book a professional photographer.
So, did I make the right decision to book a professional photographer? I didn’t tell guests that I’d changed my mind as I still wanted to receive all their photographs taken on the day, and also thought it interesting to see if I’d made the right decision. Out of eighty guests how many discs do you think I received back? A massive number of three. Would I have been happy just with my guest photographs? Definitely not. Did I make the right decision to book a professional photographer? An outstanding yes! If all I had from my day were the guest photographs I would have regrets for the rest of my life. With two years in the planning, and marrying the love of my life, I would have been heartbroken without beautiful photographs to look back on.
Only you can decide what is right for you, but I suggest asking yourself the few questions before you decide not to book a professional wedding photographer:
- Are photographs beautiful composed and edited important to me?
- What are my expectations for my wedding photographs? What would make me feel disappointed? What would make me feel excited?
- What are my reasons for not hiring a wedding photographer? Is it because I don’t mind what my photographs look like, or is it wedding budget related?
- How will I feel if my wedding photographs are blurry, dark, or there just isn’t one I like?
- How will I feel in later years about my wedding photographs? Is it something I think I might regret?
There are a few tips I can give that will help you make your final decision on whether a friend or family member is right for photographing your wedding:
- Look at their Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr accounts. What are their photographs like and do you like what you see?
- Appoint somebody to take your photographs as its best not to reply on every guest taking photographs and sending them to you after the wedding. Also appointing one or two people gives you more control.
- Do a venue visit with your appointed person and get them to take photos in all lighting conditions. Ask them to share the photographs of the visit with you. It is best to go on an open day when the venue is dressed for a wedding, that way you can see how they will tackle the table decor etc.
- Have an engagement shoot with them as this will give you an idea of what your wedding couple portraits will look like.
- Discuss with them what is important about your wedding day and how they will approach the key moments.
And finally, if your budget really doesn’t stretch to a professional photographer could you perhaps:
- Book a post wedding shoot with a photographer you love but can’t afford for your wedding day. It gives you a chance to wear your dress again and spend quality time with your new husband
- You’ll hate this option…but wait another year to be married so you have more time to save for everything you’d love to have
- Re-evaluate your budget, spend money on the things most important to you on your wedding, and cut the budget on things less important
Talking as a bride-once-was, I would always recommend booking a professional wedding photographer. For us it was the most important and wonderful day of our lives and we get so much enjoyment from looking at our wedding album. I’m so glad I came to my senses and saw the pitfalls of not hiring a professional wedding photographer, as the warm feeling I have about my wedding would have been a very sorry story full of regrets if I hadn’t.
All Photography: Kathryn Hopkins Photography / Photograph 1: Bride: Laura of Tiny Twist, Florals: Fallen Flower Design, Gown: Bridal Reloved Maldon / Photograph 2: Becky & Adrian’s Wedding – Florals: Rebecca Avery Flowers, Venue: Great Lodge / Photograph 3: Caroline & Jack’s Engagement at Dedham / Photograph 4: Bride: Emily Bannister, Florals: Rebecca Avery Flowers, Gown: Kathryn Hopkins Photography