Okay, so this was hands down, 100% the most difficult decision we've made so far in planning our wedding. (Claire here BTW, hello!)
And what's worse, despite being as involved as I in almost every other aspect, this was one area where Marko said he'd leave it up to me. After all, looking at wedding pictures is literally what I do for a living!
In today's instalment of my Real Bride Diary, I'm going to share how we came to choose our awesome wedding photographers (but how it's still a choice that keeps me awake late at night!)
Photo by Navyblur
April 12th 2016: Three Months, Two Weeks & Six Days to Go!
– My current obsession: Stationery website, Papier – I found my hen night thank you cards, and our wedding stationery on there.
– Marko’s current obsession: Brown paper thickness. (I'll explain later!)
– This week we’re mostly: Sampling wines and trying to decide where to go on honeymoon! Any suggestions? We're completely stumped.
Choosing a wedding photographer meant I had to take off my blog editor hat, and stick on my civilian bride one!
You see as a wedding blog editor, I look for certain things when it comes to the images I choose for a real wedding. I want close-up details, romantic portraits, long vertical images (so they stand out on Pinterest) but most importantly, it's all about inspiration.
My main job is to give couples ideas for their own big day, so when they look at a real wedding on the blog, they instantly feel inspired.
But your own wedding photos don't have to inspire anyone other than yourself.
I've written before about how I feel a silly pressure to have an ‘extra special' wedding because of my job, and that extends to the photography more than anything else. I had a lot of anxiety about choosing a photographer because I felt like our pictures would be scrutinised more than others.
But as I said in my chat with Aleisha on her Save the Date Wedding Podcast, I needed to get over myself, and realise I was being ridiculous!
So I stepped back and thought about what we really wanted from a photographer, rather than what I felt we ‘should have'.
When you look back on your own pictures, in two, ten, or thirty years time, chances are you'll gloss over those so-Instagram-worthy-right-now pictures of your dress billowing in the breeze, your just-right table styling, or your carefully chosen Etsy cake topper.
Those details may be important to you now, and will all be beautiful on the day of your wedding, but when it comes to the memories you'll have forever, it's that look you exchanged as you walked down the aisle, that sheer excitement after you said ‘I Do', your parents seeing you for the first time, the hilarious gasps when your uncle busted a move on the dancefloor, and that romantic moment when you dipped away together, to look at your wedding from the outside.
I'll want to remember what my day felt like, rather than what it looked like, so I wanted photographs that would capture the mood of the day, over the prettiness of it.
As much as all those long shots, detailed images, and dreamy portraits are my favourite kind of snaps to swoon over, as a couple, it's about choosing a photographer whose style suits both of you, and the kind of wedding you're having.
Every couple is different of course, and luckily we feature all kinds of photography styles on the blog – be sure to hit our real weddings section to see what kind of photography takes your fancy. Your wedding photography is the one thing you'll have after your day is over (aside from your marriage of course!) so it's worth investing some thought into identifying what you're looking for.
As difficult as it was for me to step away from the fine art and film styles I love to gush over, I knew that for Marko and I, it wasn't ‘us'. So we opted for photographers whose work instantly made us smile, with their candid, bright and fun style.
Photo by Navyblur
We're not very serious people, we laugh, a lot, and I just loved how every wedding on their site is just filled with smiling faces.
While I still hope our photographers will capture all the details we've worked so hard on (and I can't wait to share with you guys!) it's more important that they snap me ugly crying at the vows (inevitable!), Marko doing the limbo (he's freakishly good at it!) and my gang of best friends all in the same room for the first time in five years (I can't freakin' wait!).
What We Love About Our Wedding Photographers
Gifs by Navyblur
So, in case you haven't guessed it, (there have been a few hints scattered through the post!) our photographers are husband and wife due of Christine & Xander from Navyblur – and we're so excited about them shooting our wedding!
I first came across Navyblur when I was compiling my very first blog post for Bridal Musings. I was searching for a gorgeous wedding gif and discovered their really fun blog filled with joyful weddings.
And when it came to choosing them for our own wedding, Navyblur ticked a lot of our boxes.
I love that they're a two person team. We were always going to hire a second shooter (something I'd definitely recommend if it's within your budget) and this way, we're getting two people who already have their own rhythm of working together.
Photo by Navyblur
They have the most awesome photobooth set up. We were looking into photobooths in Ireland, but couldn't find any with high quality images. Friends of ours had been to a wedding that Navyblur shot, and said their photobooth was so fun, and the pictures were so flattering, that there was a massive queue of guests getting in for the second and third time.
Photobooth snaps might not be important to lots of couples, but for us, these are the pictures that will adorn our fridge and be dotted around our flat more than the actual wedding pics, so it means a lot to us to know we'll have such gorgeous party snaps from our big day.
Perhaps most importantly, Navyblur take some really beautiful photographs. Their sunset (golden hour) shots are just breathtaking, they have some really romantic portraits, and their candid, informal images make me feel all warm and fuzzy every time I look at them (which is almost any time I'm feeling stressed about the wedding!).
Best of all, I can see Marko and I in every one of their pictures!
Photo by Navyblur
And finally, we know we're going to have a whole lot of fun with Christine & Xander at our wedding. After a Skype chat with both of them, we have lots in common (they seem to take as many flights a year as we do!) and we know we'll have a great time with them on the day.
You spend more time with your photographers than anyone else at your wedding, it's a long, often emotional day, and sometimes it's a little awkward if you're not a fan of having your photograph taken, so it's really crucial to find someone you have good chemistry with, can be honest with, and that you can trust to do a great job.
We had to forgo some insanely talented Irish photographers when we chose Navyblur, and I was so nervous about the decision, not because they're not great, but for me, it was a massive commitment (somewhere up there with oh, I don't know, getting married perhaps!).
But after putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!), I don't think I'll be having any more sleepless nights. I know our wedding photos are going to be awesome (and I can say that with both my editor cap and my bridal veil on!).
My Five Top Tips For Choosing a Wedding Photographer
1. Cast a wide net (but not too wide)
Lots of photographers will travel, so you should certainly look out of state or overseas for photographers you love.
My problem? I kept falling for photographers in Australia and California. I'm getting married in Ireland, so um, not ideal!
2. Find Someone Whose Style You Love Already
Photographers have their style, and that's not going to change. It's not fair to book a photographer and then request them lots of pictures you've seen online, in a style that's nothing like theirs.
Photographers are creative professionals, you need to choose someone whose abilities you trust in 100%, rather than trying to direct them on the day, or expect them to alter their style to suit your tastes.
3. Give it a Chunk of your Budget
It is, on rare occasions, possible to find a good photographer that's inexpensive, (a super talented student, second shooter, or family friend) but as a rule, skilled, talented, and competent wedding photographers come at a price.
Not only are you paying for the time at your wedding, but the training, experience, equipment, and editing processes that goes into becoming a highly regarded wedding photographer.
There's a whole other discipline involved in managing wedding photographs over any other kind of photography too. So, there's a reason the best photographers are expensive, and when you're allocating your wedding budget, it's the one area I suggest you prioritise.
4. Choose Someone You'll Enjoy Hanging Out With
If you don't like your photographer's personality (even if they take the most amazing pictures) that will be one of the lasting memories you have of your big day.
As I said above, most couples don't realise until their wedding day, how much time they'll actually spend with their photographer, it's important to pick someone you'll have fun with.
Try your best to meet, or at least Skype with them before the big day, so you'll already have a rapport.
Photo by Navyblur
5. Look To Wedding Blogs
Okay, okay, so I know I'm biased, but I firmly believe the easiest way to identify a photography style you like and find a photographer you love, is to check out wedding blogs.
By looking at lots (and lots) of real weddings, you'll get a good idea of what you want (and just as importantly, don't want!) from your wedding pictures.
And when you find a photographer you love (be sure to check out photographers' own blogs too!) you'll be able to recognise if they're right for you.
Edit: Tip 6!
I thought of this one after I hit publish on this post and just had to add it in. Don't be intimidated about getting in touch with a really high end photographer.
Just because a photographer shoots really glam weddings, at luxurious locations, with swanky guests, doesn't mean they'll be too expensive, too exclusive to shoot your wedding, or already booked.
I found myself really selling our wedding to photographers, just to make them think we were a good fit, and expecting back sky-high quotes, but in fact, some of my favourites came back with prices a lot lower than expected and were all to happy to shoot our simple BBQ bash.
So, reach for the stars with your photographer pick, you might just be pleasantly surprised.
So, there you have it, I rambled for waaay longer than I meant to – again! – but that's my wedding photography story and advice, both as a blogger and a bride to be.
I'd love to hear your tips too though, so please do leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Coming soon, I'll be stepping up my diaries, with hen night chatter, my decor inspiration, and our party playlists (which we're hoping to plan this weekend, while wine tasting – the perfect combo!).
Check out the rest of my Real Bride Diaries.