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When to Book a Photographer for Weddings

September 1, 2023

Planning a wedding is a super exciting time in your life, but there is also a lot for you and your partner to do. You probably have a lot of questions, and it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out where to start. One of the first questions you may have is when to book a photographer for weddings. 

Well, you are in the right place. As an experienced Virginia wedding photographer, I have tons of experience when it comes to weddings and what’s most important in the planning process. Let’s take a look at when to book a photographer for weddings and who to book before them. 

Who and what to book before a wedding photographer 

When it comes to who and what to book before a wedding photographer, there honestly isn’t that much. The one person I highly suggest booking before a photographer is a wedding planner. 

Wedding planners are a lifesaver when it comes to taking the stress out of your wedding and should absolutely be the first task you check off of your list. They will not only help you plan out the logistics of your wedding, but most wedding planners will also have a list or a network of other wedding vendors that they trust and recommend. 

The other vendor you may want to book before a wedding photographer is your actual venue. Now, this isn’t as important (in my opinion) as hiring a wedding planner, but it can be beneficial to book a venue early on in the planning process. 

There are a few reasons why you would want to book a venue first. One, if you are planning on having your wedding at a venue that is very popular or books out way in advance, then it is a good idea to lock that in first to ensure you get the weddings of your dreams. 

Two, if you are planning a destination wedding, picking your venue first can help in your search for a photographer. This gives you a solid location that you can either search for a photographer in (if you are looking for a local wedding photographer) or plan for your photographer to travel to. Travel is an important factor in a wedding photography package, so knowing where and when you’re getting married can help your photographer build a package that matches your needs. 

A long square wedding reception table under a tented area.

How far in advance should you book a wedding photographer

Now, there can be a lot of varying opinions on this, but I believe that you should book your photographer as far in advance as you can. Your photographer is a major part of your wedding, and you shouldn’t feel rushed in your decision or find out that your dream photographer is booked for your date. 

Not only are they an important part of your wedding, but photographers are also in high demand, especially during peak season. Some photographers can start to book out a few months to a year in advance, so you don’t want to wait and hope that the photographer you love is still available. 

Finding the photographer with the right style and personality for you and your partner is also very important. First, you want to make sure your photographer’s signature style matches the vibe that you want for your photos. Do you want more editorial, vibrant, and true to color? 

While some photographers do shoot and edit in different styles depending on what you are looking for, most photographers will have a certain style that they use. Just like you wouldn’t expect Taylor Swift to sing opera, you shouldn’t expect your photographer to shoot in a different style. 

Second, you want to make sure that your personalities vibe. Your photographer is going to be a part of each and every moment of your wedding. You want to make sure that you are comfortable with them and that they are going to make your wedding day easier and more stress-free for you. 

wedding couple standing close together about to kiss on the beach

What a photographer can help you do

When it comes to what a photographer does for you, it extends way further than just taking your wedding photos. While this may be your first time seeing the planning side of a wedding and everything that goes into it, your photographer sees it every single day. 

This means they can help cue you into the ins and outs of wedding planning and what needs to get done. A few of the specific things they can help you with are an engagement session for your save the dates, finding the perfect venue (if you haven’t already), and planning your wedding day timeline. 

Engagement session for save the dates

Doing an engagement session is a great way for you and your partner to celebrate this amazing time in your lives, but it also is a great opportunity to get the perfect pictures for your save-the-dates. 

Generally, you want to send out your save the dates about 6 months before your wedding, so you want to make sure you can book your engagement session at least a month or so before that. This will give your photographer a chance to edit the photos and get them sent to you, as well as give you a chance to get the cards printed. 

Along with save the dates, engagement sessions are a great way to remember these special moments. For a lot of couples, this may be the first time you have really gotten your photos taken, and you’ll look back on these for the rest of your relationship and remember how it felt to start planning the rest of your life together. 

P.S. This is also another reason why it’s important to book your photographer well in advance so that you have time to schedule this session. 

couple standing face to face in front of a large manor

Help with finding vendors

If you haven’t already booked the rest of the vendors for your wedding (which you most likely won’t have), your wedding photographer can give you great tips on the perfect vendors for you and your partner. This is especially true if you are booking a wedding photographer who is local to the area you are getting married in. 

As a Virginia-based wedding photographer, there are so many vendors that I have had the opportunity to work with and connect with, especially in Charlottesville and Richmond. This expertise can come in handy when you’re looking at dozens of vendors for your wedding day. 

Talk with your photographer, let them know what you are looking for, the vibe of your wedding, how big your wedding is, and any values that are important to you, and they may be able to give you suggestions for vendors that you would have never known about otherwise. 

Plus, your photographer may also be able to give you more details about the ins and outs of working with those vendors. Whether it’s your actual venue, florist, DJ, or anything in between, they have seen how these vendors operate and what a wedding day with them looks like. 

Your photographer is basically like your own personal cheat sheet to make sure your wedding is just as you always imagined! 

Planning your wedding day timeline

Finally, your wedding photographer can help you plan out your wedding timeline. While this may not go exactly as planned on your wedding day, having this timeline planned out and scheduled beforehand can help take a lot of stress off of your plate. 

From planning out when you will start getting ready, to your first look, to when you walk down the aisle and more, your photographer can help make sure everyone who is involved in your wedding knows where they need to be and when. They can also give you valuable insights into how much time to set aside for things like getting ready and your couple portraits. 

Again, these are the things that your photographer is going to be involved in on a day-to-day basis, so their expertise can really come in handy. 

Final Thoughts on When to Book a Photographer for Weddings

So, when it comes to when to book a photographer for weddings, sooner is always going to be better. Not only will this ensure that your dream photographer is actually available for your wedding date, but it also gives you plenty of time to use your photographer’s expertise to your advantage. If you are starting your wedding planning process and are still looking for the perfect photographer for you and your partner, click here to learn more about my services, or get in touch to see if we are a good fit!

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Photographer, amateur snowboarder, dive bar connoisseur,  inspired by music, good movies, and you.

I'm a Charlottesville wedding photographer and I specialize in capturing wedding days with a documentary approach. Love is pretty rad, and your photos should be, too.