Should you hire a professional photographer for your DIY wedding? What are the pros and cons?

Let’s face it: Weddings are pricey affairs. They require tons of planning and coordination and they are full of unexpected expenses. When you do the wedding budget breakdown, you’ll find that the most expensive elements of the wedding include the food, venue, flowers and photography. If you are planning a wedding on a budget, it’s a good idea to try to save money where you can.

Keep Track Of Smaller Expenses To Save Money

While the venue, food and flowers are often the biggest expenses, a good chunk of your budget is going to go to lots of smaller details, such as transportation, decor, invitations, pre-wedding events, tuxedo rentals, bridal accessories and other smaller items. Losing track of these expenses is one of the main reasons couples go over budget on their weddings. Getting a wedding budget planner is one way to track and control expenses so you’ll know just where your money goes.

Saving Money On Your DIY Wedding

It’s never been a better time to plan a DIY wedding. In the past, you had a choice: Either a beautiful wedding or a cheap wedding, that’s it. Today, you can have the wedding of your dreams on a budget. Thanks to the internet and an amazing array of tools at your disposal, your creative options are endless. For example, you can design and print your own beautiful wedding invitations. In the past, good-looking invitations had to be ordered from a stationary shop and were quite expensive. Favors, centerpieces and bouquets can be DIY as well.

What About Wedding Photography?

In the not-so-distant past, DIY photography just wasn’t a good idea. Point and shoot cameras weren’t able to produce the high-quality prints that an SLR or medium-format camera could provide. Even if you had a relative with a good SLR camera, you still weren’t guaranteed good results. In the days of film, you had no way to preview the shots you were taking, and you were limited to how much film and processing you could afford. The best you could hope for was a handful of decent shots that made a “just okay” album. While some pictures were better than no pictures, there was nothing special about DIY photography.

Today, it’s a far different story. Thanks to technology, you can get beautiful, professional shots with nothing more than a smart phone! Ideally, you’ll have one or two “designated” photographers to get shots of your wedding. Even if you aren’t hiring a professional, it’s still a good idea to plan out your photography to ensure you get all the pictures you’ll need to tell the story of your wedding.

This is where it gets tricky. Although many people have DSLR’s or high-quality point and shoot cameras that allow them to take professional level photos, good wedding photography is more than just taking good wedding pictures. In order to have a complete record of the day, you have to be sure you get all the right shots. This is a lot of pressure! For many people, wedding photos are something they simply don’t want to leave to chance. While they may be okay cutting cost on flowers, food or hiring a DJ, wedding photos are meant to last a lifetime. These are the primary reasons for hiring a pro.

So, should you hire a professional wedding photographer, or get a friend or family member to handle your wedding pictures? The answer is up to you and your budget. If you can afford a professional wedding photographer — do it. One common option is to hire a photographer for the minimum amount of time they are available. This generally means capturing the ceremony and the family photos typically taken directly after the ceremony. This is covered in about 2 to 3 hours. With this type of package, you won’t have coverage for pre-wedding photos, or for most of the reception. You’ll want to be sure there are at least one or two people who can commit to taking these photos. Don’t assume that because you see people whipping out their phones or cameras you’ll get the shots you want. Here are some tips to ensure that your DIY photos are everything you want them to be.

Get a solid commitment from someone that they will be there with their camera and will be taking photos for you. Be sure that they are able to take the photos, follow some direction and that they will get the photos back to you in a timely manner. If you have a friend or even a friend of a friend who is a budding photographer, they may appreciate the opportunity to hone their wedding or portrait skills and may agree to shoot your wedding for free in exchange for a positive review or using your photos in their portfolio, so be sure to ask around among friends and family.

Make a list of the shots you want to have. There’s nothing worse than going through all your photos only to realize the shot you wanted so badly just didn’t happen. Most wedding photographers have a worksheet you fill out that let’s them know who you want photos of, and what pictures are the most important to you. For example, you may want a multi-generational wedding ring shot of you, your mother and your grandmother. You may have seen a fun, playful photo idea in a magazine you want to try out, or a shot of a special heirloom or a photo of all the cousins together, or a special picture of you and your best friend from high school. Whatever it is you are wanting to capture, don’t assume that the person taking your photos will know that.

Scout out the location beforehand. This is another pro tip. Many photographers are familiar with local venues and are familiar with the lighting and where the best spots are for taking photos. It’s worth it to do this so that you can plan out your family photos and map out any photogenic spots you’ll want to use as backdrops for your shots.

DIY wedding photography can be done well. It does take planning, not just having your cousin show up at the wedding with his new DSLR.

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