(A short piece I've just been writing for a Bridal Shop brochure. Seems to make sense to share it here too).
A little bit of research at the start is well worth the time spent - check out photographers’ websites, but just as importantly, talk to friends too and ask for recommendations.
Most of the more established photographers will have a distinct style. Do you prefer traditional, formal photography with lots of posed images (which may need more time in your schedule), or something more relaxed, natural and spontaneous. Are you looking for a particular style of editing and the latest special effects, or something more classic and timeless?
Once you’ve narrowed your choice a bit, meet up with those on your short list. You’ll spend a large part of your day with them, and the more comfortable you are, the more relaxed you’ll appear in your images (look for clues in the expressions of previous brides and grooms in their portfolio!). An experienced photographer will be able to guide you through the day and make sure that everything runs smoothly, and if they’re full-time and well-established, they should also be able to provide prompt, attentive service before and after your big day too. Check that their pricing is clear, with no hidden extras, and if you’re looking to buy an album or framed prints, see their samples.
If you’re on a budget, make sure you shop around, and avoid compromising too much on quality. Look for established businesses offering discounts for off-peak dates or shorter coverage, or new up-and-coming photographers who are keeping prices low while they build up their business. But make sure you see plenty of examples, including a full wedding (in winter, or a dimly-lit venue, if that’s a consideration) and not just the ‘greatest hits’ on their website!
But above all, find someone you like, and who you’d be happy to invite as a guest to your big day.