Bride on a Budget: Choosing the Photographer

A picture is worth a thousand . . . dollars?

This photo made Stephanie sure Edward Underwood was a master portrait photographer.

As I talked about in my post on setting priorities, good-quality photographic memories of the biggest day in our relationship sit high on Matt’s and my wedding wish list. Working with a tight budget, we had to get creative when it came to finding the perfect photographer.Our search began with the experts. After consulting The Knot and Martha Stewart Weddings, we decided to commit about 8 percent of our total costs to documenting the day.

Next, we asked friends and friends of friends for recommendations. Though we received some excellent references, we found that photographers whose prices were reasonable a few years ago have since upped their fees way beyond our budget. One photographer I spoke with was charging $7,000—yikes!

So I went back to an old friend—a friend who has helped me find apartments, furniture, jobs, and volleyball leagues. That’s right, I’m talking about Craigslist, which can be an invaluable budget-wedding tool.

Matt and I found ten photographers we liked via Craigslist. We collected their information, ranked them, and then decided to meet with our top two choices. One of those photographers ended up missing the meeting. Bad news for her, but it worked out perfectly for the second.
When I first visited Edward Underwood’s Web site, I was blown away by what I saw. Meeting with him sealed the deal—there are so many reasons why Matt and I instantly knew he was the photographer for us.

First, his style is amazing. I love the way he has captured the magic in other couples’ wedding days. Second, he takes beautiful portraits. While I prefer journalistic shots, I also know it’s important to have a few staged pictures, and Edward does an outstanding job with these. Third, his rates are very reasonable for his level of skill. Finally, Edward is super cool. He had an iPad when it first came out, and his easygoing nature really made us feel we won’t have to worry about photographs on our wedding day. We were sold!

Craigslist Lessons from Bride on a Budget:
• Photographers advertise more on Craigslist in January and February than any other time of year, so try to book early. By the time spring rolls around, they’re usually all booked up for wedding season.
• Truly professional photographers take the time to create Web sites that accurately reflect their style. If the Craigslist ad doesn’t offer a Web site, don’t bother contacting that person.
• Whatever you do, don’t post ads looking for photographers! Only crazy people will contact you.

>> Want to follow Stephanie’s journey from the beginning? Click here for the rest of the Bride on a Budget series.