by Phoebe Blyth
My husband and I were very lucky: when we first started talking about weddings, we were in total agreement. “A small, low key, backyard wedding, just close friends and family.” We knew we were already going to have enough of a logistical nightmare just getting these people into the same post code, given that we’d grown up in two different countries, and had family in four. We wanted to keep the wedding simple, and the cost low, since people were already going to be buying international flights just to be there.
When we first started looking at photographers, we had a very unrealistic idea of what we could expect to pay. This is true, I have found, of almost everything to do with planning a wedding, but anyway. We found the perfect photographer on Instagram a year before the wedding – we loved his style and aesthetic, and he seemed to present the perfect combination of laid back and professional. However, we were still trying to cut corners wherever we could, and so we thought it would be just as good to get one of our guests to act as photographer, or just to ask people to take lots of footage on their phones. I'm so happy we changed our minds, because even though we have some wonderful pictures and videos from our friends, the photographs we got from our photographer ended up being one of the best parts of the wedding.
Here are six reasons why you should find room in your budget for an experienced, professional wedding photographer to capture your day:
1. They've done this before
Chances are, this is your first time getting married, and no matter how many bridal blogs you've read, or Pinterest boards you've pinned, or aunties you've had tea with, there are still going to be times (possibly every five minutes) when someone asks you a question and you respond “I have absolutely no idea”. Having an experienced photographer there meant that didn't have to figure out the minutiae of the day which will, believe it or not, slip under your radar – we had someone there to tell us what to do. Having said that...
2. A good photographer wants to capture your wedding, not just a wedding
While each photographer has their own style, and all their projects will follow a certain theme, they should be able to reflect the unique nature of the day you've created, and the relationship between you, your betrothed, and, well, everyone else there. This gives you and your friends permission to relax, be silly, and really show everyone’s true personalities, instead of forcing them into “obligatory” formations and poses. We took the traditional family and bridal party snaps after the ceremony, but there were plenty of silly ones as well…
3. They’ll capture your intimate moments without being intrusive
The ceremony, and the minutes immediately after it, were an emotional whirlwind for my me and my husband. We cried, we laughed, we both had the sun shining directly in our faces, and we walked out and hugged about fifty people in the space of ten minutes. There's no way I would have remembered any of those moments, if not for the photographs we now have. But here's the thing: I never once saw our photographer. He managed to slip in and out of the crowd and somehow instinctively knew exactly where to be, without ever seeming intrusive. It helped that he was one of the most open and likable people we’d ever met – he immediately put everyone at ease, which leads us to reason number 4...
4. They get it: you aren't used to being photographed. They'll make you feel comfortable regardless.
At some point during our “getting to know the photographer” Skype chat (again, being in different countries made things a little difficult) I mumbled that I didn't feel terribly comfortable being photographed. It felt terribly cliché to say this to a photographer, but it was true. While both of us were perfectly happy to pose for a few Facebook selfies, the thought of having someone photographing your every move and emotion for seven emotional hours was a little nerve wracking.
Luckily, this is where our photographer’s professionalism took over – he knew when to give us instructions and when to just hang back and watch. He put as completely at ease from our first conversation, and seemed so genuinely enthusiastic and excited to be there that it was no longer awkward. He made us feel like ours was the best wedding he'd ever been to, and I'm sure he made every other couple feel equally as special. It made the whole thing fun and helped us to relax (which can be hard when you're the center of attention for five hours).
5. It allows all the guests to put down their phones and enjoy the moment
Now this is not by any means an original idea, but there is great value in enabling people to truly enjoy the moment, rather than trying to capture every moment for posterity (or social media). We asked our guests to put away their phones during the ceremony, and it was really amazing to look out and see everyone looking back at us, without a filter or screen in sight. Several friends had their cameras there and took beautiful pictures later in the night, but they were able to be completely present during the wedding itself, and that was wonderful. Speaking of the guests...
6. They'll capture everyone’s beautiful moments, even if the bride and groom aren't in them.
Yes, the wedding is all about you and your beloved. Except that it isn't. If it were truly just about the two of you, you would have eloped. You are having a wedding because it is important to bring together the people who matter the most, and share your day with them. So even though on the day you might not see them, there are hundreds of beautiful interactions going on between the people you love, and it's so special to be able to enjoy them afterwards.
Our wedding threw together people from both our home towns and high school days, family from America, England and Australia, friends from university, traveling, and from our new home in Chicago. It was a crazy mix, but somehow it worked! Throughout the day, our photographer captured beautiful moments of the people watching the ceremony (including one of my friend’s brand new fiancée holding her hand with their engagement ring on show), which somehow said just as much about the emotions of that moment as the pictures of the bridal party.
So, even if you are determined to cut every corner, and have the lowest of low-key weddings, on the smallest of budgets, we highly recommend making sure your photographer is professional, experienced, and the right person to make you feel comfortable. The memories are worth it!
Oh, and in case you were wondering... our photographer was the incredibly talented Barefoot and Bearded from Newcastle, NSW.
Find him at: