When to book your photographer

Behind the Scenes at our Southern Weddings shoot in Miami.
iPhone photos courtesy of Nicole Miller and April Dorsey

I had a great little conversation with Lauren from Every Last Detail blog about when to book your photographer (and other vendors for your wedding!)

It’s been bittersweet lately, as I’ve been booking more brides, I’ve been completely surprised by the number of inquiries I get looking for their photographer just 3-4 months out. As much as I love my clients who have snatched me up, it’s always heartbreaking to tell someone that you’re not available for their date!

I usually tell people that their photographer should be booked as soon as they confirm their date and venue. Why is that?

1. There’s only one of us. Unlike caterers or florists who can often commit to several weddings on the same day, most photographers will only book one event in a given day (some will only book one event in a given weekend). Once that date is booked, only photographers who employ associate photographers with their studio are able to second-book that day. In those cases, you may not be getting the same photographer you think you’re hiring – so it’s important to ask before you book.

2. Many of us limit the number of weddings we’ll accept in a year. You may wonder why that is…. and I’m just generalizing (some photographers have higher or lower max’s, or don’t cap their events at all…) but in my studio, I only accept a specific number of events each year to ensure that I’m able to give 110% to each of my couples. Once I hit that number, I have to make a decision whether or not to continue to book – and in most cases, it depends on the couple, the venue and the amount of time I’ll need to invest to make sure I’m giving them my absolute best. The reason I cap my events is actually #3…

3. We adhere to tight timelines. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times… “you have the best job, only working Saturdays!” Riiight. Ok, so truth is – we work endless hours before, during and after a wedding. A 10-hour event will most likely be between 90-100 hours of physical work. How is our time spread out? Consultations, confirmation, bookings, paperwork, engagement shoots, detailing timelines, meetings, wedding day, editing, editing, editing, viewings, more meetings, album designing, final editing, ordering products, uploading, burning, delivering, archiving…. The best photographers know how to timeline out their events and may not accept back to back events if they don’t have the ability to outsource or fulfill their timeline contracts. We all wish we could clone ourselves, but it’s better to take one client and exceed their expectations, than take 2 clients and only deliver an average service.

4. The best ones are snatched up quick. These are the top of the top in your area, and you’ll pay for their excellence and experience. They are found by the best referrals – word of mouth. They have a solid business structure that includes equipment, back up equipment, insurance and liability, fearless back-up systems, high quality products and the best connections. It’s really rare to find an open date from one of these top-dogs less than 9 months out.

And the one exception….

There’s only one Saturday in a week. Hello Captain Obvious.. I know. But if you’re getting married on a Sunday, or a weekday – you’ll have a much better chance booking your photographer closer to your wedding. Those aren’t peak booking days for us, so you can have a little more flexibility.

Lauren’s blog is such a great resource and I’m so glad she was able to post about when to hire vendors! Definitely stop over and read the rest of her timeline :)


Happy Thursday!