What’s funny about getting engaged is that it can be so unbelievably exciting that you momentarily forget about seemingly the enormous task of actually planning your wedding.

Bride forums and blogs, although often very helpful, can just throw more wood on the fire when you go through the obligatory wedding planning binge about two months into your engagement.

It really is a minefield out there. There’s so much conflicting information, most of which born from some quite strong opinions and individual experiences. So before I go ahead and contradict myself, here’s some more opinions to add to the fun!

You should never let others cloud your judgement – after all, your wedding day is one of the most personal life events that you and your other half will ever experience. It’s all about you two – and your day should 100% reflect that.

There is no best photographer out there.

Coombe Lodge Wiltshire Wedding Photographer Stuart Dudleston Photography RobynAdam 3

Robyn & Adam’s Wedding at Coombe Lodge in Somerset

Everyone has their own opinion of what makes a great photographer and we photographers have to just suck it up and admit it. I’m fully aware that my dark, moody and filmic style isn’t right for someone looking for more traditional wedding photography coverage.

I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) ever say that I was the best wedding photographer, but I could be the best photographer for the right couple!

So where on Earth do you start when finding your perfect wedding photographer?

If you’re in a hurry to take the potatoes out of the oven or to close this browser window before your boss notices – here’s the executive summary:

Know what you want, ask the right people, search in the right places, meet the shortlist and go with your gut.

It’s not worth racking your brains over tiny differences in price or number of free prints. When you know you’ve found the right photographer – you’ll know and you’ll trust them to do the best job for you.

Ready to find the best photographer for you? Well then, here we go…

1. Know What You Want

Vietnam Destination Wedding Photographer Stuart Dudleston Photography Intercontinental DaNang BaoviJohn 45

BaoVi & John’s Destination Wedding at Intercontinental Da Nang, Vietnam

Before you even think about shortlisting photographers and sending out any speculative enquiries – you need to know what you’re looking for. If you don’t know what you want, this is going to be a very long and resentful process.

I’ll assume at this stage that you’ve already established and allocated budget for your wedding. If you haven’t – bookmark this article and make sure to head back here when you’re ready!

Photographers make it seem so much more profound but there really aren’t that many different styles out there. They can essentially just be broken down into ‘light and airy,’ ‘clean and natural’ and ’dark and moody.’ I happen to fall somewhere towards the latter.

What complicates matters is when you combine these styles with different genres of wedding photography, such as: traditional, documentary, lifestyle, fine art and dramatic.

Not all documentary wedding photographers will have the same individual style, in just the same way as all traditional and fine art wedding photographers. The genres dictate the type of coverage – whether that’s reporting the day as it happens or manufacturing scenes to create something spectacular. The style is what’s completely individual to the photographer.

For example, I tend to do a combination of lifestyle, dramatic and documentary wedding photography. I capture the day as it happens but sometimes it’s necessary to manufacture scenes enough to inspire natural moments and inject some real personality and character into the photographs. The ‘dramatic’ element just comes naturally to create something seriously emotive and beautiful.

Use Pinterest. Oh…and Instagram. 

Lulworth Cove Dorset Engagement Session Stuart Dudleston Photography LilyGeorge 6

Lily & George’s Lulworth Cove Engagement Session in Dorset

It’s probably safe to assume that you’ve already put in some hours on Pinterest within the first five minutes of getting engaged. If so, we’re already part way there! That was easy…

If you’re not familiar with Pinterest – it really is wedding planning heaven. There’s so much content on there and the search functionality is so good that it won’t take you long to find what you’re after. It’s also oddly addictive, so make sure you’ve taken those potatoes out of the oven before getting started.

Instagram is great for this too – now that it has introduced the ability to save images to specific albums.

Name your first board “inspiration.” Don’t get to carried away finding your perfect centrepieces or garden decoration – we haven’t got that far yet!

As you start pinning content that you like, you’ll begin to see a pattern emerging. You might see yourself drawn to a particular photography style. Is it light and airy? Is it dark and moody? Is it capturing natural moments or is it more dramatic and manufactured?

Keep pinning until you’ve found your style – then move to step two.

2. Ask Your Married Friends

Malta Mdina Destination Wedding Photographer Villa Mdina LozzyRichard Stuart Dudleston Photography 40

Lozzy & Richard’s Destination Wedding at Villa Bologna in Malta

It’s probably quite obvious and maybe a little bit cheeky – but your next point of call should always be your married friends. It’s likely that you trust and respect your friend’s opinion. If you don’t then I’m not sure what can be said about your friendship.

You don’t have to necessarily book the photographer that your friend had, but this should always be a fantastic starting point. You’ll be able to ask your friend about the process they went through, what questions to ask and what questions they wished they asked before booking.

This is where you begin to understand more about what coverage you’re after and what sort of service you would like. It doesn’t just need to look pretty!

Even if your friend wasn’t happy with their wedding photographer – at least you know how to avoid the same problems!

Having a nose around the website of your friend’s wedding photographer should give you a much better idea of what service you would like and what to expect in terms of pricing and coverage.

Google is now your best friend. 

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