Q: I’ve heard so many horror stories of wedding photography disasters. How do I choose the right photographer to capture my big day?

A: In my opinion, the only things that actually last past the wedding day are: 1) the marriage, and 2) the photos or video from the wedding. Sure you might rewear the dress or preserve your flowers, but often all you have left are the memories and the images. Choosing such an important vendor for your wedding isn’t easy, but here’s where you should start.

First, focus your search on wedding photographers. While this may sound obvious, shooting weddings is very different than photographing studio portraits, architecture or nature. Next, research different styles of wedding photography. Popular styles include: journalistic (focusing on capturing candid moments), traditional (lots of posed photos) and artistic (special effects, dramatic lighting). Most photographers describe their style on their websites, so shop around and curate a list of your favorites.

After you select a style, you’ll need to set the budget. According to the Knot’s Real Wedding Survey, couples spent an average of about $2,600 on photography in 2015.

Like any other vendor, find out more information via email and then set up a phone chat. Unless you’re famous and constantly chased by the paparazzi, it’s likely you and your beau don’t have much experience being in front of the camera. So it’s important that you feel comfortable around your photographer. Meet in person and get a sense for their shooting style – do they pride themselves on getting couples to relax in front of the camera? Are they great at being a fly on the wall, capturing those special moments without giving you the slightest hint that they’re there?

Stuck deciding between a few photographers? Ask these questions to help narrow your choices:

• Are photos edited/retouched?

• Is there a second photographer? (You can usually choose to add one, which can help if you’re having a huge wedding and want to make sure everything gets documented)

• Can I reprint my photos as I wish? Or do I need to purchase more?

• What makes you different from other photographers?

• Do you have experience shooting at my venue or similar venues?

• How many hours of coverage is included? (8 hours is fairly optimal, but packages range anywhere from 6 to 10 on average)

• Do you have insurance? (It’s smart to have a backup plan in case the vendor gets sick or equipment malfunctions)

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