How to choose a wedding photographer

Simple tips for capturing your big day in pictures

Congratulations! You’re getting hitched.

Now that you’ve set a date, what comes next? Along with booking a venue, choosing a photographer should be at the top of your to-do list.

“Those are the 2 things that book up really fast,” says Shaun Scade, a NAIT Photographic Technology instructor who has shot at least 500 weddings in the past 18 years. In fact, he says, if you’re beginning your search for a photographer and it’s less than a year to the big day, your options are already going to be limited.

With some thorough research and a solid budget, though, even couples who are aiming for the short-term should be able to find a skilled local professional to record their special day. Here are some tips to help capture the memories.


wedding budget, couple picks up coins

“Most couples don’t have any idea how much a photographer is going to cost,” says Scade.

There’s a wide price range for wedding photography. For less than $2,500, says Scade, you’ll get someone with less experience, while for closer to $4,500 you can expect one of the best.

To help find one that falls within your budget, Scade recommends asking for referrals from friends and family who share your values and understand your needs.

Meet and interview the photographer


Once you’ve decided on a budget and researched online the work of 2 or 3 potential photographers, it’s time to reach out.

“I always recommend that you meet with at least 2 people,” says Scade. An initial hour-long consultation should be ample time for both parties to see if there’s a good fit. “You’re spending the entire day together; it’s important that you click,” says Scade.

During your meeting, describe your vision for the wedding day and ask how the photographer would approach it. If you like what you hear, dig into the details. Scade recommends asking:

  • Do you have business insurance? An established wedding photographer will be covered, which protects you from unforeseen incidents for which they’re responsible and makes sure you don’t get stuck with the bill.
  • How many weddings have you shot?
  • What contingency plan do you have in the event of bad weather or emergencies? “Some photographers will have their own studio where you can go take portraits if it’s pouring outside,” says Scade.
  • Do you have backup equipment? “Make sure they have at least one backup camera.”
  • How do you back up images? What happens if they’re lost?
  • How long after the wedding will we receive our photos? “The standard is about 6 to 8 weeks,” says Scade.
  • What formats are available? Couples can request a variety of packages, from a simple memory stick to themed photo albums and larger-format printed portraits.

Asking the right questions at the beginning of the process will help you get what you want in the end.

Sign a contract

contract signing

“Contracts are there for both the client and the photographer,” Scade says. “Make sure it’s not a one-sided document that only protects the photographer.”

Look for clauses that describe what will happen if the photographer has to bow out on the wedding day, for example, or what will be done if images are lost.

A good contract will also inform the couple about issues such as giving your photographer appropriate notice if you have to change dates, times or venues.

Relax – and enjoy the big day


After you’ve established a relationship with your photographer and clearly explained your wishes, all that’s left is to let them work their magic at your wedding. Relax and enjoy the special moments, knowing they’re all being captured by the pro you carefully chose.

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