Expert Advice: 8 Things Couples Should Know Before Inquiring With a Wedding Photographer

Expert Advice: 9 Things Couples Should Know Before Inquiring With a Wedding Photographer

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Wedding photography is such an important aspect because it’s the one part of your wedding (along with your video) that will live on after the day is over.

“A lot of thought goes into the decorations for your ceremony and reception, your guest list, your attire, and the same should go for your vendors. Wedding vendors often play a large part in creating your dream wedding day, and thus, they should also take careful consideration. Wedding photography, in particular, is very important, as these are the photos that you will be looking back on for the rest of your lives,” Tara Zimmerman, Limelight Photography Lead Photographer & Social Media Engagement Specialist, explains. “But that isn’t to scare you! Because it is a big decision, it is to encourage you to decide what you want out of a wedding photographer and to find someone who fits those needs.”

“Understanding the importance of having a photographer who is more than just a hired hand is crucial for couples planning their wedding. Your wedding day is one of the most significant moments of your life, filled with love, joy, and cherished memories. Having a photographer who understands the dynamics of your family, anticipates precious moments before they happen, and can blend seamlessly into the fabric of your day ensures that those memories are preserved for a lifetime,” Arron McNeile, owner of McNeile Photography, adds.

To ensure that you find the right photographer for your style, budget, personality, and expectations, our preferred wedding photographers share their insight on “8 Things Couples Should Know Before Inquiring With a Wedding Photographer.”

1. Know That Your Photographer Does So Much More Than Just Take Pictures

“A wedding photographer does more than show up on your day and capture a few thousand images. From your inquiry to your gallery delivery, we serve as a trusted advisor, guiding you toward the right step of the wedding process. We have plenty of trusted referrals to help build a dream team. For the actual imagery, we draw upon our years of industry knowledge on timing, locations, and lighting to deliver timeless imagery. But more than that, we are your advocates and problem solvers. Whether that means we have to help bustle your dress, put on some boutonnieres on the groomsmen, or capture images in a suddenly shortened timeline with poor weather, you can trust us to deliver. And we are expert communicators, collaborating with various wedding professionals to ensure that we all successfully bring your vision to life.” -Eddy Almaguer, Eddy Almaguer Photography

“The most important thing a couple should know before meeting with wedding photographers is what we actually do. Seasoned professional photographers do incredibly much more than just hitting a shutter on a camera. We are here to guide you from the very beginning of planning your wedding to sometimes decades to come, photographing all the future stages of your life. We will help guide you on the best lighting, locations, and timing for everything on the day of the wedding. So much of what we do here on the west coast of Florida is based on sunset and having those beautiful golden hour photos! We are here along the way to refer to you other wedding professionals that we know, trust, and love, especially when it comes to videographers, as we work so closely with them. On the day of the wedding, we are there with you from getting ready (we’re probably going to see you partially naked lol) through the last important event. Throughout the day, we are going to help do anything and everything we can to make it exceed your expectations, including making sure everything is running on time, catching up on time when things are running late, pinning on all the boutonnieres, re-directing a mom, mother-in-law, aunt, sister, bridesmaid, dad, rogue guest, etc. who is trying to hijack something that they shouldn’t be, managing all the family dynamics to make sure you get all the family photos you want without hurting anyone’s feelings, and also being cognisant of any divorces, deaths, etc. that could be really hard or painful, making sure there aren’t things in the backgrounds that we can control, especially others with phones, and working with the entire team of wedding pros on the day of. Not what you expected, right? We do take photos, but in order to get those amazing photos, these are all the other moving parts that come into play that are so important and why we love what we do so much!” -Carrie Wildes, Carrie Wildes Photography

“As a wedding photographer, my role extends far beyond just taking pictures. I strive to become an integral part of your day, blending seamlessly into the background while capturing the essence and emotions of every moment. While anyone can snap a photo, my aim is to tell your story authentically, capturing the unseen moments and emotions that make your day truly unique. From the nervous excitement before the ceremony to the heartfelt embraces during the reception, a photographer is there to document it all. Being a helpful part of your day means more than just snapping photos – it’s about being present and attentive to your needs. Whether it’s pinning a boutonniere, calming nerves, or offering a reassuring smile, a photographer is there to support you every step of the way. They should build a connection with you, becoming not just a vendor but a trusted friend and confidant. This bond allows your photographer to capture genuine moments of intimacy and emotion that reflect the true essence of your relationship. When couples understand that their photographer plays a vital role in shaping and preserving their wedding day memories, they can fully appreciate the value of investing in a skilled and empathetic professional. Beyond technical expertise, it’s the ability to anticipate and capture the fleeting moments of love, laughter, and tenderness that sets documentary wedding photographers apart. By entrusting your photographer with the task of documenting their day, couples can rest assured that every precious moment will be captured with authenticity and care.” -Arron McNeile, McNeile Photography

2. Know What You Want Your Day to Be Like

“Before reaching out, make sure you have your date and venue secured (unless you’re basing your date on your photographer’s availability, which couples do!). Many photographers are not able to provide pricing if they don’t know where you’re getting married, as they may travel and have additional arrangements depending on the location. For the look of your day, we realize you still likely haven’t figured all of that out, but as much info as you can gather about the vibe you’re going for, the more we know whether or not we would be a fit. Photographers know their styles, inspiration, and favorite venues best, so give them as much to work with as you can so that they can advise on whether or not they are the best fit.” -Shannon Dewitt, Dewitt for Love Photography

“It’s helpful to have an idea of your wedding date, venue, guest count, and budget. This way, your photographer can provide you with an accurate quote for your wedding day coverage. These are important to know before inquiring because a bigger wedding means more things happening, which requires more than one photographer. Additionally, think about the style of photography you prefer (e.g., traditional, documentary, true to color, bright, film, moody). This way, you are inquiring with a photographer whose style you resonate with. Also, have in mind what moments are important to you that you want to be captured on your wedding day. Being open about your expectations and communicating your vision can help the photographer understand your needs better!” -Amber Yonker, Amber Yonker Photography

“Before meeting with your wedding photographer, make sure you gather all the information you have about your wedding day. Some things may not be figured out yet, like times and locations, which is fine, but giving us all the ideas you have will help us plan accordingly. First looks take additional time and planning, along with if you want to do photos before the ceremony. This means we may need to have hair and make-up finished earlier so we have more time to photograph. Also, if you want different locations for photos, travel time may need to be addressed. It’s easy to forget that from place to place may be a 15-30 minute drive with traffic, time of year, and parking.” -Will DeCosta, Iyrus Weddings Photo & Video

Bride Getting Ready in Vintage Robe with Feathers Inspiration | Glamorous Hollywood Curls Hair Ideas | White and Nude Lace Plummeting V Neckline Spaghetti Strap Wedding Dress by Maggie Sottero Designs | Tampa Bay Hair and Makeup Artist Femme Akoi Beauty Studio | Photographer Dewitt for Love Photography

3. Know What Photography Style You Like

“Before meeting with a wedding photographer, couples should know a little bit about the photographer and the business by doing some surface-level research. They should make sure the photographer’s editing style fits what they are looking for since that is one major thing that sets photographers apart. The couple should also know the photographer’s price range. In many instances, couples also come up with questions to ask the photographer when meeting with him or her: more about their business, what they look for when photographing a wedding, and how their process works (image delivery, timeframe, etc.).” -Amber McWhorter, Amber McWhorter Photography

“Prior to meeting and/or speaking with a wedding photographer, you should know your photo preferences, both perspective-wise and editing-wise. There are all sorts of wedding photographers who use different equipment, highlight specific moments throughout your wedding day, edit in various styles, etc., and it is important to find one that photographs in a way that you can see your own wedding photos coming to life. There are wedding photographers who shoot in film and some digitally. There are some who edit with deep moody tones, while others have light and airy styles. Your design preferences will determine what type of photographer you want to have to capture your big day.” -Tara Zimmerman, Limelight Photography

“It’s one thing to love how a photographer’s editing style looks on someone else, but it can be hard for couples to know what it will look like on them! This is one of the reasons it’s important to determine what editing style you love before reaching out. For example, we edit “true to life” with a little bit of a film aesthetic. This means that our edits and colors are fairly close to how everything looked on the day. If you like a moodier/brown/golden tone to images, keep in mind that those styles may change the colors of your color palette, skin tone, and other colors associated with your wedding day.” -Shannon Dewitt, Dewitt for Love Photography

“Do some research on what photos grab your eye and draw your attention by Googling ‘wedding photography at XYZ venue.’ When you look at the images that search comes up, take note of which ones you love and which photographer took those. You can also do this on Pinterest as well. This will help you come up with the ‘style’ and type of photos that you like.” -Carrie Wildes, Carrie Wildes Photography

4. Know That Your Photographer Is Making Sure You’re The Right Fit for Them Too

“Don’t be afraid to tell us how awesome you are! When inquiring, give as much info as you can/ Photographers who book out quickly often have multiple inquiries for the same date, or same month, meaning that they may reach capacity sooner than you realize. When you have gotten to know yourselves, your wedding day, and what you want in a team and viewed their work, don’t just do the bare minimum when you reach out. Give as much detail as you can, tell us why you think we’d be a great match, and get us excited! When three couples reach out for the same date, two give us one-word answers, and one gives us insight into who they are as a couple and that they’ve done the work to already know we’re an awesome match, THAT is a couple we want to and are super excited to talk to! Remember that we’re people, too, and we want to be mutually excited with you about the big day! Also, communicate yourself. We highly recommend it’s actually you who communicates with us while we’re chatting and setting up a time to speak/meet. If you outsource this part of the process to your mom, maid of honor, or planner, a lot can get lost in translation. When it comes to the vendor that is by your side the most on the actual wedding day, it is critical that you two are the ones speaking to form a strong connection and trust with each other. Speaking with someone else means that this connection isn’t formed, and in situations like that, it can be hard for us to get a read on you as a couple and whether we’re a good match or not. The more you can communicate yourself with us, the more solid of a match-up it will be!” -Shannon Dewitt, Dewitt for Love Photography

“You are interviewing us, but we are interviewing you too! It’s so important to find a wedding photographer who you love both their work and their personality. As photographers, we have to feel that you trust us to do our very best work for you, and sometimes, if it’s not a fit, that is totally ok! At minimum, a phone call or Zoom is the best way to get to know us and for us to get to know you.” -Carrie Wildes, Carrie Wildes Photography

Bride and Groom Sparkler Grand Exit | Wedding Reception Send-off | Tampa Bay Photographer Carrie Wildes Photography

5. Know How Much You Want to Invest

“Before you fall too far down a rabbit hole of loving a certain photographer’s work, you need to know your budget. Wedding photography is an investment but an investment worth making. You are paying for the photographer’s experience in the industry, the high-quality equipment that they use, the process that you go through with them to help prepare for your big day and their time. Many couples often prioritize their photography budget over that of other vendors simply because it is not something that you will experience for only one day; you’ll be looking at these photos for years to come. Knowing your budget will help you remain true to your finances while looking for a wedding photographer.” -Tara Zimmerman, Limelight Photography

“This can be a hard one because the range is literally all over the place! Have a good handle on your overall budget but don’t put an exact number on what you are going to spend in each category, especially photography. There may be other areas in which you have some wiggle room if you find a photographer you absolutely love but who may fall a bit higher than what you were thinking. Also, be sure to ask if the photographer offers payment plans and takes credit cards as you can get points, and sometimes spreading it out is something that can help break up that cost.” -Carrie Wildes, Carrie Wildes Photography

“Before you get in touch with a wedding photographer you love, make sure to have your overall wedding budget figured out, as well as which portions of the wedding are most important to you and what you’ll allocate to photography. Once you’ve figured that out, have a max budget for what you can push a little bit if you find someone just outside your ideal range. It’s also important to remember that photographers may not cut off at a round number. So if the wedding photographer of your dreams is $6,200 and your budget is $6,000, spaced out over the course of 6-12 months, that extra $200 becomes less and less impactful overall to the budget. You may need to cut a little bit in other areas if photography is one of your top important vendors! It’s also helpful to ask what payment plans are available in case it helps you to space it out!” -Shannon Dewitt, Dewitt for Love Photography

“I will go a little against the grain and say that you don’t need to have an exact budget figured out for each vendor. Rather, consider a range. ‘We expect to spend somewhere between $5,000-$6,500.’ That way, you enter each conversation, making it less about money and more about the value you’re receiving from the photographer. If you’re speaking to someone who truly understands what you want out of your day, then stretching a little bit is not going to hurt, especially when you consider 12-month+ payment plans are pretty normal. During your 20-year anniversary will you regret spending an extra $1,000 or so for a photographer who blew the doors off your expectation? Probably not!” -Eddy Almaguer, Eddy Almaguer Photography

6. Know That It’s Important that You Like Each on a Personal Level

“After searching and finding photographers that align aesthetically with your style and whose work appeals to you, setting up a meeting or phone call with them is a crucial step to ensuring that they’re a good fit for you and you’re a good fit for them. As your photographer will be in close communication with you leading up to your wedding day and on the day of, developing a relationship early on creates a solid foundation for the rest of the process. When meeting with a potential photographer, tell them about yourself, your fiancé, your story, and your wedding vision (kudos if they ask you first!), and ask them questions about their style, passions, workflow, and experience. Outside of developing a relationship, be prepared to go over package options/contents and present any questions you may have. Quality photographers want to go over these things with you — a couple that fits them well is inspiring and exciting!” -Jennifer Reed, J&S Media

“Know your photographer’s heart and passion for what they do. Their passion often affects what sort of photos they take. For instance, if they are a very sentimental person, they may favor capturing emotion-filled photos. If your photographer favors more of the technical side of photography, they may incorporate different effects and shooting styles, such as playing off of light, movement, and colors. Lastly, know that you can trust your wedding photographer. We are here to ensure that your day is not only captured beautifully but that it also runs smoothly and that you and your spouse have the time of your lives. We couldn’t be more excited and honored to help photograph your beautiful wedding day.” -Tara Zimmerman, Limelight Photography

Tampa Film Photographer McNeile Photography jpg

7. Know That If You Are in Love With Your Photographer, So Are Other Couples

“Be ready to move forward: Oof, this is a silent killer! Sometimes a couple has a lot going on in their lives, or may even be avoiding making a decision because it can be overwhelming. Make sure that before you talk to/meet with a photographer, you’re ready to book who you choose within 1-3 weeks. If your photographer is waiting weeks or months for an answer from you, you may have already lost them. There are so many couples we end up having to turn down because they weren’t actually ready to book and took weeks to make a decision. Meanwhile, other couples are reaching out for the same date/month, and you may lose your date to someone else if you’re not at the stage where you’re ready to move forward when you find the right fit!” -Shannon Dewitt, Dewitt for Love Photography

“If it were up to us wedding photographers, we’d clone ourselves and book several weddings on the same day to celebrate your love with you and plenty of other lovely couples. But alas! When searching for a wedding photographer, do so with the understanding that another couple may book your date if you don’t move quickly. A photographer can hold the day for you, but all bets are off if another couple is ready to pay a retainer to lock off the date. So when you’re searching, clearly understand what you want in a wedding photographer and be prepared to decide within two weeks of an initial call.” -Eddy Almaguer, Eddy Almaguer Photography

“Similar to when you find ‘the one’ with your wedding dress when you find the photographer that is ‘the one,’ book them right away! If you drag your feet, they might not be available when you finally decide you are ready. A lot of couples ask me when they should do their retainer and contract, and I say as soon as you know we are the one!” -Carrie Wildes, Owner, Carrie Wildes Photography

8. Know That You May Not Be the Right Fit for Your Photographer

“As much as you’re looking for the right fit, so are your photographers! Touching on this fact is super important, especially if you haven’t done a lot of research on what you like or understand the design of your own wedding just yet. While it may seem like anyone you reach out to automatically should work with you because they’re providing a service, sometimes a vendor can see that you may not be the right match before you can. This could be based on your budget just not being doable for your vendor, the style of your wedding day not being something that the photographer feels inspired by or is a type of design that they feel they do their best work within, or that the type of photography/editing you’re looking for just isn’t something they do. Once you reach out to a photographer, don’t be offended if they respond that they don’t think they’re the best fit. They’re actually doing you a favor! Many photographers are more than willing to provide a referral or two of some other photo teams that might be. Photographers tend to know their own style well enough that we can also pick that out in others in the industry. If it doesn’t work out with that photographer, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals!” -Shannon Dewitt, Dewitt for Love Photography

“Just as you’re seeking someone who aligns with your vision and values, photographers also assess whether the partnership is a natural fit. Oftentimes, it can simply be a difference in aesthetics. Perhaps you’re seeking someone who edits in earth-toned, muted colors with plenty of motion blur, but the photographer’s website shows symmetrical, clean, and airy portraits. It may not be the right fit! Other times, there may be a difference in budget between you and the photographer or even location challenges. One photographer may be an expert at beach weddings but have limited ballroom experience, or vice versa. Regardless of what the difference might be, though, a well-connected photographer should always at least point you in the direction you want to go.” -Eddy Almaguer, Eddy Almaguer Photography

9. What to Know About Film Photography

“As someone who’s been capturing love stories on film for over five years, I want couples to grasp the unique vibe that film photography brings to their big day. It’s all about a slower, more deliberate process, focusing on timeless elegance and authenticity. Each click of the shutter is intentional, aiming to capture real moments, not just a flurry of shots. This approach crafts images full of emotion and nostalgia, something couples can cherish forever. One thing couples should dig about film is the hands-on experience. Unlike digital files, film gives you tangible negatives or slides. It’s a bit old-school, sure, but there’s a romance in holding your memories in your hands and passing them down through generations. Plus, the quirks and imperfections of film add depth to your photos, telling a truly unique story of your special day. Now, let’s talk tech. Mastering film photography takes serious know-how. Unlike digital cameras, where you can snap away endlessly, shooting on film requires a keen eye for exposure, lighting, and composition. It’s all about getting it right in-camera, no second chances. But trust me, when done right, the results are worth it – images that stand the test of time, capturing the essence of your wedding day flawlessly. Patience is key with film. Unlike digital, where you can see your photos instantly, film takes time to process. So yeah, you might wait a bit longer to see your final shots. But honestly, that anticipation only adds to the excitement. When those scans finally come in, it’s like reliving your wedding day all over again – totally worth the wait. So embrace the slower pace, and you’ll appreciate the artistry of film photography even more.” -Arron McNeile, McNeile Photography


About the Author

Anna Coats

Marry Me Tampa Bay editor Anna Coats created Marry Me Tampa Bay in 2012 to showcase the area’s best local weddings and vendors. She has been featured as a wedding expert on the national talk show Daytime, Fox13, ABC Action News, Great Day Tampa Bay, and Bay News 9 (now Spectrum).

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