Finding the right Kitchener-Waterloo wedding vendors for you
Baby, I Like Your Photo Style
Tips on how to choose a wedding photographer
Written by Michelle Kauntz, Captured Soul Photography
He proposed, she proposed... the word "yes" was whispered, said, shouted or laughed. No matter what way this moment occurs, the wedding planning stage has begun amidst a lot of excitement, congratulations and in most cases, a lot of confusion.
Anyone in the beginning stages of wedding planning has discovered that advice is everywhere. Referrals and suggestions come from family, friends, colleagues, your hairdresser and your dog sitter (or yoga instructor or pizza delivery boy... well, maybe not your pizza delivery boy, but you get the idea). Magazines, bridal shows, wedding books and websites all become research to sift through as you work towards your wedding PhD in planning, etiquette and family politics. When this is all over, you should be able to put "Dr." in front of your name but until that point, where do you start?
You are intelligent and unique. You have personal style. And when it comes to planning a wedding, style is everything. Whether you want a low key, simple wedding or the gala event of the year, all of your choices should reflect your style. It's true that perhaps your style might need to go on a budgetary diet from time to time but for the most part, that savvy Jimmy Choo shoe has a counterpart just as elegant and cool that may cost hundreds, if not thousands, less.
That being said, the first thing that has to go is the idea of shopping on a budget. Yes, budgets are important; they can save you from many marital hassles after the wedding or ongoing fights with once-willing donors to your cause. But starting to look for a wedding photographer (or any other vendor) with a budget in mind is like going to the dollar store first and missing the great deal on that "perfect-something" in the next store over. When you begin looking, forget that there are price tags - just see what it is you like. Discover what styles speak to you, strike emotion, entice you to look at them over and over. Once you find them, start making a list. Then find other photographers that also belong on that list.
Once you've found a good selection that you feel you would be happy with, go back to talk to them. Email, call, meet them in person if possible, get a feel for their personalities, for how they and their businesses work. Once you've done that, only then should you look at their pricing, or at least allow their pricing to influence you. Remember, budgets are flexible to a point and you may be surprised at the price you find. The most expensive is not always the best, the least expensive not always the best deal. Like you, your photographer has personality and style and their prices will vary depending on that style as well as their experience, their overhead and what they offer. Your favourite photographer may be budget-manageable or you may have to go to one of the other great choices on your list; but either way, you are off to a great start.
Plan ahead or be flexible The easiest way to make sure your photographer of choice is available on your day is to book very (very) far in advance. This, however, is not always possible. Many couples do not have the luxury nor the desire to have a two year (or more) engagement. So how can you make sure that your chosen photographer is available for you? Go backwards. Don't pick a date and see who fits into that slot, find the main three/four vendors you can't do without and see if they have corresponding availability. Those three or four are typically your place of service/reception hall, your caterer and your photographer. These are also the three that typically will be your biggest expense, so it is best for you to make sure that they are your first priority. If you can be flexible with your date and work around your top three, you are much more likely to ease the frustration of repeatedly hearing "sorry, we are already booked for that date".
Love your fiancé; love your photographer Most brides and grooms don't realize that they will probably see their photographer more often on their wedding day than they will see each other. When choosing your photographer, make sure that you meet (or if meeting is not possible at least correspond) with the photographer that will be directly shooting your wedding. It is important that you feel comfortable with this person as well as love their work. If your personalities clash, your wedding day will not be relaxed. Your photographer should (and most likely will) be there for almost every personal moment you have on your wedding day: dressing, eating, laughing, crying. They may inadvertently become your confidant, wedding planner, family councilor, best friend and advisor. Your photographer has the power to make or break how you are feeling on that day. If you don't mesh, it won't be a wedding made in heaven. However, if you're at ease with a good photographer, they will bring out the best in you – in front of and away from the camera.
A word about referrals Referrals are invaluable for getting to know the business end of the photographer, or simply to find them in the first place. Referrals relay wonderful facts: Was the photographer organized? Courteous? Did the guests react well to them? Were their products of high quality? ... What referrals can't tell you is if the photographer is talented. What one person considers talent or art is completely subjective. One personality may compliment your sister's or friend's but may not work well with yours. One photograph may be absolutely beautiful in your cousin's eyes when to yours it may look average, or worse. Despite how much you trust your referrer, it is crucial to not just take someone's word but to fall in love for yourself with the photographer's work and style. Because really, that's what this is all about: falling in love.
The fine points
• Don't pick a photographer based on price and availability. Look to style and personality first and let the other issues play a more minor role in your initial choices.
• If you can be flexible with your date you will have a better chance to get availability from your most important vendors.
• Make sure you are comfortable with your photographer. They will most likely be with you throughout your wedding day more than your new spouse!
• Accept lots of referrals and then make your own decision. If you're not "in love" with your photographer's work, they are probably not right for you.
Captured Soul Photography is based out of Kitchener and operated by Michelle Kauntz. She describes her approach to photography as a mix between photojournalistic and portrait styles.
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