While different couples will have different priorities for their weddings, and I’d always encourage you to work out the things that are most important to you (without looking at any wedding checklists) and divvying up your budget accordingly, there’s one area I’d always recommend you do consider spending money on: professional wedding photography.
You’ll miss things on the day
After months of planning and pinning and organising your wedding, you only have one day to enjoy it – and you’re going to spend that day stressing about your speech and how you can give everyone there enough of your time and attention and if you’re hitting the minimum spend on the open bar and where are the crab puffs?!
It’s important to be able to look back on beautiful, well-chosen pictures of the day and actually enjoy seeing it. To notice the little details and moments you missed.
One of my favourite pictures from my own wedding is a moment I wasn’t there to see: my mum giving one of my friends, who she’d never met before, a massive hug to thank him for introducing me and my partner. It was a small part of their day – neither of them thought to tell me about it – but it meant a lot to me, seeing the photo afterwards.
Photos help you remember the day afterwards
Photos help you commemorate the day and the big, romantic decision you made together. You can’t curl up on your anniversary and tell each other stories of funny conversations or how nervous you were about your speeches as you flick through paid invoices. (Well – you can if you like, but it might be easier to remember things you haven’t thought of in a while as you look through photographs…)
Photos are something you can share
Photos are something you can share with your guests even after your wedding. They help you feel more connected with the people you don’t get to see as much as you like, and give you a good excuse to get in touch.
Incorporate a wedding photo into your thank you card. Or share the online gallery with everyone who came. Your friends will love looking through the photos, spotting how many pictures they made it into and seeing the natural, unstaged moments that made up the day.
Professionals will capture every important moment
But maybe it’s not the photo part you’re uncertain about. Maybe it’s the professional part. Maybe you have a family friend offering to do your photos for free. That’s brilliant – if she’s Annie Leibovitz.
No? Then get a professional in! Get someone you can ask to capture certain moments without feeling guilty – because it’s a service, not a favour. Get someone you can trust not to miss anything important, like the vows, the cake-cutting, everyone’s heads…
And get someone you can ask to take staged photos. It’s not easy to ask someone, who’s a guest at your wedding, taking pictures as a favour, to leave the party and their friends and stand in the cold to shoot and re-shoot a list of pictures for you. You’ll wind up with photos you’re not proud of, photos you don’t enjoy looking at. And there’s no point having a photographer at all if that’s the case.
If it’s important, it’s worth budgeting for.
It’s good to have posed pictures of you with your loved ones – especially if you’re camera shy
You will never regret taking pictures of you and your new spouse and your wedding party together. Looking incredible. Even if you’re camera shy.
I say this as someone who is ridiculously camera shy. I wouldn’t know how to pose for a picture in a flattering way if Tyra Banks herself was giving me directions. (Maybe especially not then…)
But the staged photos I have of me posing with my whole wedding party are some of my favourite pictures of me, ever.
I am so genuinely happy in those photos. I’ve just married my favourite person. I’m surrounded by all the close runners up. I’m looking pretty darn gorgeous with my professionally styled hair and make-up, and my sparkly shoes. I’m holding a bouquet so I actually have something to do with my hands in photos for once. And my happiness shows. It shines through.
Now, I have photos of me and the people I care most about, looking incredible and happy, to line my walls and my desktop and cheer me up when I need a lift. If I’d relied on candid shots and not organised a photoshoot, I might not have gotten them. I spent my wedding day trying to chat to everyone (and struggling). I probably spent more time with the good friends I don’t get to see as much as I’d like than with the great friends who were in my wedding party, so there’s no guarantee I’d have gotten photos with the people I care about most.
Me, being crazy happy to have something to do with my hands in pictures. (And to be married, probably.) Kooky Weddings
And I definitely wouldn’t have wound up with a picture of both my and my partner’s families and our wedding party, all together – the thirty of us weren’t hanging out in a big group (if for logistics if nothing else!), but I love having pictures of all the most important people to us, all together.
And that’s even more important because I’m camera shy. I don’t take many photos. I’m not in many photos with the people I care about. I needed to have a huge occasion to have a good reason to pose for pictures.
And I’m so glad I did.
There’s a professional photographer out there who gets you
If you think professional photography might be cheesy, you’re looking at the wrong portfolios. Different photographers have different styles and there’s a photographer out there who’s right for you.
Look on Instagram. Look at wedding fairs that match your values and your style. Ask the wedding suppliers you’ve found who you mesh with if they have any recommendations.
Find someone you vibe with. It will feel easy and fun – even if you’re usually awkward in photos.
Photographers usually like to meet or have a phone consultation first, so you can feel one another out to make sure you’re a good fit. And they’ll usually have a less expensive engagement shoot package, or might even offer it as part of the wedding photography package.
Do it. Even if you’re never planning on showing anyone those photos, do it. It’ll help you and your photographer get to know one another. It’ll make you more comfortable. It’ll confirm their style is exactly what you’re looking for – or help you spot you’re not a match before it’s too late!
C’mon! Look how pretty!
So, whatever’s most important to you for your wedding, however you’re allocating your budget, I would recommend putting money towards a professional photographer.
To catch the moments you’ve missed. To give you and your partner and friends memories to look back on. And to have pictures of you and the people most important to you, particularly if you usually avoid cameras.
Photo by Jessica Lewis.