Here’s What To Consider When Picking Out a Wedding Photographer and Planner

The interview is more than a chance to look at portfolios—it's an opportunity to see if you connect with potential vendors.

Photograph by Lulu Edward Photography.

Hiring A Photographer

There are several types of photography, from photojournalism to fine art. There are also film photographers and digital photographers. These distinctions are good to know, but don’t get bogged down by them when interviewing for your big day. Instead, says photographer Bonnie Sen, “Pay attention to the consistent themes in a photographer’s work and make sure you’re comfortable with them, because that’s exactly what you’ll get.”

Choosing Wisely

The variety of digital cameras available means anyone can become a photographer, Sen says. But with wedding photography, not only do you have to make beautiful photos, you also need to have the chops to get the shots, no matter the conditions. “Photographers have to tell the story of your wedding while managing bridal parties, coordinating transportation, adjusting to the lighting, sticking to a schedule, and so on.”  

Getting Down to Business

Sen recommends being honest about your expectations. “If you want lots of posed photos or detail shots and the photographer seems lukewarm about getting those, it’s probably not a good fit.” And always ask to see full galleries. It’s easy to get one good shot—the one on the photographer’s website or Instagram feed—but to gauge consistency, ask to see more. “The photos will speak for themselves.”

Hiring A Wedding Planner

“Once you’ve narrowed down a list of candidates who offer the services you’re looking for, make sure you’ve found the planner that’s best suited for you as a couple,” says Danielle Couick of Magnolia Bluebird. “Following your consultation, ask yourself: Am I more relaxed after speaking? Did we connect? Were they able to answer my questions in a way that made sense to me? Did they ask me any questions about my needs or preferences? Do I have a clear understanding of their role? Is their availability in line with mine?”

Avoid The Insta-Trap

Instagram lets you browse many portfolios quickly, and possibly discover new talent, but it should be only one tool in choosing your vendors. “There are many ways to amass Instagram followers with very little actual wedding experience,” says photographer Bonnie Sen. “And I know amazing vendors who aren’t on Instagram at all!” Instagram offers a curated snapshot, which makes it great for finding a professional who shares your appreciation of an aesthetic. But, planner/designer Danielle Couick cautions, always read the captions and credits—sometimes the overall look is a designer’s, but the specific detail that draws you in (a bouquet or stationery suite, for example) is actually the work of a vendor partner.

The Bottom Line

“Focus on what’s most important to you,” says Couick. “Are you looking to benefit from overall planning and design? Do you just need support for the aesthetic? Or can you handle the planning and just want someone present on your wedding day?” She recommends asking a potential planner the following questions: How did you get started? How long have you been planning weddings? What was your favorite wedding to date and why? How many weddings a year (or a weekend) do you plan? What’s your fee structure? Do you take commissions from vendors? Do I pay vendors directly or through you?

This article appeared in the Winter/Spring 2018 issue of Bride and Groom.

Amy Moeller
Fashion & Weddings Editor

Amy leads Washingtonian Weddings and writes Style Setters for Washingtonian. Prior to joining Washingtonian in March 2016, she was the editor of Capitol File magazine in DC and before that, editor of What’s Up? Weddings in Annapolis.