I've just had to decline another wedding job this week, for a wedding in August next year, which has prompted this post!
In these days of austerity, everyone is looking to save money, and weddings don't (usually) come cheap, so people are becoming more cautious about committing to spending hundreds/thousands of pounds. In these circumstances it is very easy to "wait and see" if they suddenly find spare money or find a bargain, but end up leaving things too late, and struggle to find the right photographer.
I suppose it is a question of balance and prioritising what you want most from your big day, and what your budget truly is. Everyone has a different opinion on what is most important, and how much you should spend, and as photography packages can be so diverse, ranging from standard albums (or no album!) to designer artist-embroidered-flame-grilled-leather-backed beasties, only you can decide what you want for your day and what it is worth to you.
There are lots of photographers out there, some offering services at dubiously cheap prices (you get what you pay for?) so you should start your research as soon as possible, checking how much experience they have - do they have backup equipment - are they serious about their work or is it just a weekend hobby? You also want to see a good selection of work that they have done, to show they consistently produce work of a high standard. Do they have appropriate insurances for working in public?
For a guideline on how much of your budget you should consider for photography, see here.
So, what is most important to you?
Church and reception venue? Yes, a priority. Book those first.
After that, what is next important though? Dress? Maybe. Cars. Nice to have, but not vital. Flowers and table decorations make the day look special but perhaps can be tailored / cut-back to save a little money.
One thing is sure. After many months, possibly years, of planning every detail, all these little things will appear on the day and disappear just as quickly in the whirlwind that will be your wedding day, and when the cars have gone, the fizzy wine has been drunk and the flowers have wilted, all you will have are your memories and a set of photographs to help you retain them.
If you find a photographer who can show you plenty of examples of previous weddings to prove they are talented and experienced, with the right style to suit you, and (most important so you enjoy your wedding day) the right personality that you will get on with them, you have to ask yourself one thing: why don't I book now? Photographers are not a tin of beans that will soon be back in stock if the shelf is empty, so if you get that "good" feeling about someone, get them booked sharpish and avoid disappointment!
The general thought is that about 18 months ahead of the day is a good target (read this blog of other bride's thoughts on the subject), but my advice is to start thinking about it and making enquiries as soon as you have booked the venue. From these enquiries you'll get a feel of how many are available.
Summer months are always the busiest and the first to get booked (I have taken bookings two years from now) so get thinking about it.
What do they say? Don't delay - book today!
Darryl Brooks Photography
Wedding Photographer in Hull and East Yorkshire