Let’s picture the scene (shouldn’t be difficult as I’ll assume you’re already engaged if you’re here).

You get engaged – congratulations!

You have loads of cool ideas for your wedding and you’re ready to get stuck in with the wedding planning process. You have a date in mind, you have a venue in mind – it all feels like it’s coming together, right?

When suddenly, there’s a million-and-one things to do.

If you value wedding photography, then booking your photographer shouldn’t be a decision chosen lightly. It’s often a very personal decision based on more than just “because she’s cheap” or “because he lives 3 miles away from the venue.”

I’ll choose a wedding photographer after this week when I have a chance to sit down.

Sound familiar?

Booking a wedding photographer can very easily get pushed down the to-do list. Then suddenly, it’s 5 months until the big day and you wake up at 3am in a panic when you realise you haven’t done it yet.

Have a plan

Cain Manor Wedding Photographer Hampshire Stuart Dudleston Photography YzzyDaniel 90

Yzzy & Daniel’s Wedding at Cain Manor, Surrey

The process of planning a wedding in the UK can be quite long. Venues tend to get booked up sometimes years in advance for key wedding dates in the summer. Booking one thing tends to trigger more things that need arranging.

Once you’ve started – you’ve started.

I can’t stress this enough, but before you even think about what colour your centrepieces will be and what band you’re doing to hire – you need to have a plan.

How to plan your wedding will end up being an article of its own, so I won’t go into too much detail about it now, however, always begin the process with setting your wedding date.

Setting a date gives you a timeframe to work towards and allows you start plotting when things need to be done by – notably, the venue and the photographer. Apparently the average engagement lasts 15 months, although this seems quite short in my experience. I get enquiries for weddings 3 years in advance!

Before going any further, make sure you’ve allocated a budget and figured out where it’s coming from.

So you’ve set your date. You know how much you’re planning on spending and you know where the money is coming from. Sounds to me like you’re ready to get started!

Now it’s time

Vietnam Destination Wedding Photographer Stuart Dudleston Photography Intercontinental DaNang BaoviJohn 64

BaoVi & John’s Destination Wedding at Intercontinental DaNang, Vietnam

Well, almost.

Before you book your photographer, you need to have your venue. You can’t expect any photographer to provide you with an accurate quote if your email said:

We’re getting married on September 1st and it’ll either be at a cute barn in Dorset or half way up a mountain in Switzerland.

I offer engagement shoots as a fantastic way of us getting to know each other a little better and providing your with some nice photos of yourselves to announce your engagement and even use at the wedding!

These are often very early in the wedding planning process and often inspire a lot of thought and direction to the style of your wedding.

If you think an engagement shoot sounds cool, then I’d love to hear from you! You can find out more about them here. 

Whilst going through the process of booking your venue, this is the time where you should be doing some browsing on your iPad or acquiring business cards from your recently married friends who have beautiful wedding photography.

Get a list together, make sure to take the time to understand exactly what they offer and whether they’re the right photographer for you. Many of us wedding photographers structure our services in different ways, which I appreciate can be confusing when you’re trying to do direct comparisons!

Make sure to do your homework.

Okay, now it’s actually time

Deans Court Wedding Photographer Wimborne Dorset Stuart Dudleston Photography VickyAsh 19

Vicky & Ash’s Wedding at Deans Court in Wimborne, Dorset

You’ve booked your venue – sweet!

Now it’s time to fire off some emails to check availability, get pricing information and arrange meetings with the wedding photographers you have shortlisted.

If we assume that the average engagement is anywhere from 15 to 20 months, providing it took you a few months to get started with the wedding planning process, we now have over a year to book a photographer.

This probably sounds a long time, but in reality, it really isn’t.

Relatively popular wedding photographers are almost certainly already taking bookings around your wedding date. The ‘dogs-bollocks,’ borderline celebrity photographers are likely completely booked up.

What I’m getting at is – don’t hang about.

Don’t rush into it

Springhead Trust Wedding Photographer Fontmell Magna Dorset Sarah JaneAnne Stuart Dudleston Photography 180

SJ & Anne’s Wedding at Springhead Trust, Fontmell Magna, Dorset

Now don’t get me wrong – I would hate for you to rush into booking a photographer that you’re not 100% comfortable with.

Remember, there will always be a photographer available. Even the most popular wedding photographers have occasional availability in their diaries at short notice. It never hurts to ask!

Photography is a saturated market and there are a lot of great photographers out there.

This is why your decision process shouldn’t be purely based on the quality of their portfolio.

Sure, you obviously want a great photographer who takes awesome photos and has creative ideas. But there’s so much more to that. You need to trust them.

This is your wedding day. You probably won’t have another one. It’s worth investing the time and energy to find a photographer that you can trust completely so you can just enjoy your wedding day.

If you would like to know more about the wedding photography services I provide, take a look here!

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