How far in advance should I book a wedding photographer?

In the last few years, wedding couples are leaving their wedding photographer’s booking until much later. Some even leave it until only a few months before their wedding.

We’re not exactly sure why this is. Still, we wanted to explain a few things about wedding photography to avoid couples being disappointed by missing out on the Photographer of their choice. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

So our advice for couples planning their weddings. Work out the priorities for your wedding and book these first.  

Unless you have an unlimited budget, it makes sense to talk about what is most important for your day and allocate more of your spending towards the things that matter to you and your partner. There’s a lot of emphasis on the visual aspects nowadays, especially since the advent of social media. Of course, we love photographing stunning weddings with Pinterest worthy details but don’t forget that weddings lead to marriages. Who knows if a USB of photos will still be able to be viewed in the future? We like to imagine our couples viewing their wedding album in 20 years with their families when printed photos from this era are a rare and precious gift.

If quality photography is a high priority for your wedding, and you’ve fallen in love with a particular style, it makes sense to secure your photographer as early as possible.

After getting engaged, you’ll no doubt be getting lots of advice on when you should be booking your vendors and other tidbits of information from well-meaning friends and relatives. The conflicting advice you get can sometimes make your head spin! When it comes to wedding photography, how far in advance of your wedding date should you be booking a photographer?

Although it can vary for different locations and customs, the average engagement is about 14 months and the average engaged couple books their Photographer nine months before the wedding date. Of course, meetings can be much shorter or longer, depending on the circumstances.

A good rule of thumb is that if your wedding is less than a year away, you should actively search for your Photographer. If your wedding is less than nine months away, it should be your top priority in your wedding planning!

Why do you need to book your Photographer so early? Unlike some other wedding vendors such as florists, tux rentals, caterers, etc., photographers can typically only book one wedding per day. So when the Photographer reserves a popular date, that date is taken and unavailable to other couples. And as you can imagine, the photographers with more experience and a better reputation get booked earlier than others, so if you have a preference for a photographer, don’t wait!

A few wedding vendors are notorious for getting booked well in advance, and the Photographer is high on that list. But don’t click away to secure one just yet. Here, we’ll walk you through exactly when to book a professional photographer for your wedding, plus explain what you need to know before you book.

When to Book a Wedding Photographer

How far in advance should I book a wedding photographer?

A professional wedding photographer should be one of the first vendors you choose, but wedding planning is not the time to be hasty. Your photographs will be your most treasured wedding keepsake. Not sure where to start when it comes to looking for your wedding photographer of choice?

Even if you’ve saved a dozen of your favourite pro photographers, don’t sign on the dotted line until you:

Have a General Timeline and Location for Your Wedding

First things first: Talk over the timeline of your engagement with your fiancé. Do you want to walk down the aisle right away or have a more drawn out arrangement that doesn’t feel rushed? Consider the season, month, and where you envision it taking place. Then, talk to mom and dad, or whoever falls under the VIP category at your wedding. These are the folks you can’t say “I Do” without and the ones you hope can make it. If they have any major conflicts, you’ll want to know about them before setting a wedding date. 

Know Your Budget

Ah, yes, the dreaded wedding budget conversation. It may not be fun, but it is essential. You can’t decide on a premier venue if you don’t have the finances to do so—even if it is for the sake of your dream day. Figure out who is paying—and how much they contribute—before you make any big moves.

Have Booked Essential Vendors

Once the budget’s on lock and you have a big picture of the when and where of your wedding, you can start shopping around for your vendors. Unless you’ve had your heart set on a professional photographer from the second you snagged a beau, there are a couple of vendors you should reach out to first.

Venue: 

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but selecting your wedding venue should be at the top of your to-do list for your big day. Your platform has complete and total control over your wedding date, so you really can’t make any other decisions until it’s set. In some cases, venues also require you to work with vendors on their preferred wedding vendor list, which would be a big bummer if you already booked your professionals.

Of course, you can start reaching out to potential photographers before solidifying your venue to get their availability for the months or year when you hope to get married. But resist officially booking them until you’ve found a platform that aligns with their availability.

Wedding Planner: 

If you plan to hire a full-service wedding planner, it’s wise to book them before you make any big decisions. A wedding planner is an expert in the industry and can help narrow down your hunt by suggesting photographers that suit your style and budget. He or she may even be able to secure a discounted rate or special services if they have worked together before.

How Early Do You Need to Book a Wedding Photographer? 

You should be booking your Photographer/Videographer at least nine months before your wedding!

And here is why we agree:

By this time, you’ll have already picked your venue, a theme/colour scheme, an idea of a guest list, and a basic timeline of your wedding day. This is all useful to your Photographer because…

  • Once the venue(s) is set, your Photographer can look up the locations to see where they can get the best photos of you, your significant other & loved ones
  • You will know who you will want pictures with, out of town family or friends, etc. (Add to your shot list!)
  • The general timeline is useful, so whether you are having a mix of traditions or unique wedding events, you can be sure your Photographer won’t miss a thing and capture all of your special moments

Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

Prime Dates

Prime dates for weddings will vary by locations, but in general, Saturdays are the most popular day to get married. The year of the year can make dates more desirable, with most couples preferring the summer and fall months to marry. Make sure to research when the “busy season” is for wedding photographers in your area, so you know what dates are likely to book up fastest.

Holidays

Holidays, especially those on a Friday or a Monday that afford people an extended weekend, are trendy dates and will book quickly. You should also expect that those dates may come at a premium price and be booked extra early, for example, New Year’s Eve.

Vanity Dates

These are dates that have a series of numbers that are catchy or easy to remember. For example, if you want to get married on February 20, 2020, that is a vanity date, and it may book very quickly. These dates are popular and will book out way in advance if they also fall within the busy season.

You Send Out Save-the-Dates

Now that you have your venue for your big day, chances are you’ve locked in your wedding date. But don’t get mail-happy with your save the date cards just yet. If you book your Photographer before sending save-the-dates, you can schedule an engagement shoot with them. You can then use those photos for a beautiful save-the-date card, as well as your wedding website and guest book.

Engagement sessions are also a great way to get to know your photographer and get comfortable in front of the camera. Two things you’ll be extremely thankful for on your actual wedding day. 

How Far in Advance to Book a Wedding Photographer

How far in advance should I book a wedding photographer?

As we mentioned earlier, photographers book up quickly. If you have your eye on a pro who is in high demand (i.e. their work graces the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings or they have hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram), be prepared to book well in advance. We’re talking at least a year. If you don’t have that kind of time, it never hurts to ask about availability, but don’t get your hopes set on any one photographer.

Thankfully, there are a plethora of options out there to choose from, so you won’t go without a photographer—even if your engagement is on the shorter end. If you can, try to book your Photographer at least nine months out, or as soon as you can (read: have a confirmed wedding date). Looking for a Yarra Valley wedding photographer? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

What to Do Before You Book

Now that you’re well-versed in when to book your Photographer for a wedding, there are a few other things to do before making it final.

Do Your Research

Make a list of photographers whose style you love. Then, research their websites to get a better idea of their packages, pricing, and personality. If you think they could be a good fit for you, your budget, and your location, inquire about their availability.

You want to feel comfortable on your wedding day, and your Photographer can make or break both how you feel and look in front of the camera. It’s essential to make sure you connect with them with that in mind—something you can only learn by meeting face to face or via video chat.

Set up a meeting to get to know him or her before you book. You will be spending a lot of time with your photographer on your wedding day, so if your personalities mesh, the entire experience will be more enjoyable, and the photos will probably be better to boot.

Look at Entire Galleries

We hope we don’t have to say it, but Instagram is a highlight reel. If you fell in love with your Photographer’s profile, that’s great. But you should know that Instagram is where they showcase the very best of their work and highlights from each wedding, which are usually only a few photos from each.

If they don’t showcase full portfolios on their wedding website, ask to see them. Look at the portraits, the details, the candid photos they capture—everything—to make sure you love the entire scope of their work, not just the dreamy sunset shots.

Photos are an essential part of any wedding, so selecting a photographer shouldn’t come lightly. Finding your perfect wedding photographer can take time, but if you do your research and book them at the right time, you can confidently plan the rest of your wedding, knowing it will be captured beautifully.

How can I tell if I’ve chosen a popular date?

Unfortunately, you can’t tell without being able to ask all the engaged couples in Perth. Chances are, if you’re looking at Saturday in Spring, Summer or Autumn, you’ve chosen a popular date! We’ve found Sundays aren’t as popular as they used to be, but Fridays are.  

Shouldn’t I book my venue first?

Most couples do like to lock their venue in before looking at other suppliers. This makes sense as then you will have the date confirmed. What’s a good idea, though, as a few of our couples have done in the past, is check our availability when they have a shortlist of dates from their proposed venue. 

What do I do if the Photographer I want is already booked for my date?

As there is two of us, we’re able to book two weddings on the same day. This means that we may not book out as quickly as other photographers who are mostly working alone. When we do receive an enquiry for a date, we’re already booked for, and we recommend one of our colleagues in the AIPP – Australian Institute of Professional Photographers. If the Photographer you had your heart set on is not available, make sure you ask who they recommend as they will have a good idea on who can provide a comparable service. At Wild Romantic, we have the best wedding photographer in Mornington Peninsula to capture every single moment on your wedding day.

How far in advance should I book your wedding photographer? 

We say, as soon as your venue is confirmed, usually the right amount of time. This is generally in the 6 – 12 months before your wedding. If your wedding is coming up sooner than that, don’t panic, we may still have availability or had a cancellation. In our 12 years as wedding photographers, we have taken bookings as far as 18 months in advance and as soon as two weeks before the wedding.

The 7 Timing Mistakes All Brides Make While Wedding Planning

You know what they say: timing is everything. And when it comes to wedding planning, this statement certainly couldn’t be more accurate. When exactly should you send those destination wedding invitations out? And how far in advance is it necessary to secure hotel blocks? We break it all down for you here, so hopefully, you can avoid some of the most common timing mistakes brides make while wedding planning.

Reaching out to Vendors Too Early

Seriously, it happens. The “brides” reach out to make inquiries before they’re even engaged! Or couples that reach out with a wedding date three years away. While flattering, it’s a bit premature and takes up our time that we could be devoting to other more timely clients.

Putting a Deposit Down on a Venue and Hiring Other Key Vendors Before Hiring Your Planner

If you plan on hiring a planner, always consult him or her first before making major wedding decisions, like securing a venue, rentals, and hiring a florist. “Most event design firms also do in-house florals and recommend rental items as part of their contract package, so this essentially duplicates efforts (and money spent),” she explains.

Procrastinating on Booking Key Vendors

Waiting too late to book your vendors, particularly for a high-season wedding, is a common mistake couples make, notes Dezhda “Dee” Gaubert, owner of No Worries Event Planning. If your wedding is in the peak season (for most regions, this is the summertime), and you wait until even six months before book a high-quality vendor, you may miss out on the best of the best, she cautions. “This includes DJs, photographers, coordinators, and some florists. “Suppliers that can handle a higher volume, like cake bakers, caterers, and some florists, can be booked closer to the event date, but don’t risk it. Good vendors book up fast!”

Booking a Videographer at the Last Minute

Rachel Jo Silver, Founder of Love Stories TV, has seen this happen repeatedly: the bride puts having a wedding videographer under the “optional” column on her to-do list. She then panics, trying to find someone at the last minute when she realises it’s a must-have. In fact, not having a videographer is the number one regret she hears from brides, so take her advice and don’t put this one off!

Sending out Destination Wedding Invitations Too Late

According to destination wedding planner Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques, destination weddings have entirely different timelines for invitations (and RSVPs) than weddings at home. “Because literally, everybody has to travel to get to a destination wedding, you should send out save the dates and travel information as far out as 18 months before the big day. Formal invitations can be mailed at the one-year-out mark, and they should still have an RSVP date of eight weeks from the date you mail them.” Do not delay sending out your invitations, or you’ll have trouble planning and budgeting for all of your various events at your wedding destination, she warns.

Not Securing Hotel Blocks Early On

Waiting too long to book hotel block accommodations, especially in a major city, is a big no-no, notes wedding planner Marilisa Schachinger of Martel Event. “While it can seem like a simple task to put off until later if a city is hosting a large conference or sporting event the same weekend as your wedding, they may be completely booked even six-plus months in advance.”

As soon as your date and venue are confirmed, she suggests locking in hotel blocks at two to three hotels to ensure your guests have plenty of options and time to secure their lodging. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

Focusing on the Small Details First

Some brides concentrate too much on the “small details” from the get-go and fail to resolve some of the more significant planning elements until too late, says Greg Jenkins, founder of Bravo Productions. “For instance, deciding on napkin rings, wedding colours, and linens should come after you’ve already contracted a venue and caterer.”