I had a DIY wedding, and I cheaped out on my wedding photography.
And I regret it.
This was around the time I was just starting my business, and before I had a good handle on pricing and best business practices, and even different photographic styles and different lighting techniques.
It was the biggest, most expensive party I had ever planned, and at the time it just seemed like I "shouldn't" spend that much money if I could avoid it on wedding photography (sidenote - I also cheaped out on my dress, which I immediately regretted).
My wedding was truly amazing in a lot of ways - the reception was actually legendary - but I'll admit that I regularly fantasize about a wedding "do over" where I correct a few of the missteps I made, including hiring the photographer who's style I loved (and buying the dress I loved, but that's a different post for a different day!).
This is a scary thing for me to admit because the photographers we used are my friends and they're both awesome people AND photographers. Really.
And they honestly did do a fantastic job of capturing the day as a whole. Really!
Then why was I disappointed? Let me explain.
They were both just recently out of photography school, which is why I got such a "good deal". But the thing about good deals is that there's always a trade off.
And the trade off for me was that I hired the people I could afford instead of hiring the person who's style I LOVED but whom I deemed too expensive at the time. Someone who had developed their style, and who's style was distinct and recognizable and who's images stopped me in my tracks when I saw them and made me say "WOW! I want my wedding pictures to look like THAT!".
In retrospect, I realize I wanted a professional, not someone with a great camera who was great at taking photos. Which, I realize now, are two different things.
So how could I not be at least a little disappointed with the photos? I didn't hire the person who's work I loved - I hired the person who I could afford.
And honestly the photos are really quite good. There are some amazing moments captured really beautifully and I treasure them.
But if I'm honest with myself (and you), it's less about the actual photographs themselves and more about the fact that it's not the STYLE of photography that I envisioned for my wedding day.
You might say, "But you couldn't afford that other person so what could you have done differently?".
I could have negotiated a payment plan.
I could have figured out what were the most important parts of the day for me to have documented and booked the photographer I loved for less time.
I could have reorganized my day so that we did our first dance, cake cutting and bouquet toss right when we came into the reception to maximize the time we could afford to hire them for.
There were options I didn't explore, and I wish I had.
And that's really the take home message of this confession.
You look at a lot of portfolios when you're choosing your wedding photographer, and it's important to pay attention to the different styles (dark and moody, light and bright, soft and romantic, gritty and realistic, posed, candid, etc) of the photographers who's work you look at, and what you gravitate towards.
It's also important to ask for what you want in life. It's possible you might even get a "yes" from time to time! ... Or even a partial yes, which is better than a firm "no"! And if you get a no, then at least you tried and you can move forward with no regrets.
They say you should allocate at least 10% of your wedding budget to your wedding photographer. That means if you're wedding costs $30,000 your wedding photography budget should be about $3000. Which is about the average for a 8 hours of wedding photography where I live.
But if the person you want is more expensive, it *might* be worth it to figure out how to make hiring them happen.
At the end of the day, you have to do what's right for you.
There's just one more piece of unsolicited advice from auntie Jules, and then I'll leave you alone (for now) - please do advocate for yourself, at least a little. You'll probably have to make some concessions on your wedding day (most of us do). Just make sure they're the right ones. The ones you can live with.
Just my 2 cents.