When should you hire a wedding photographer?
It is a question that thousands of brides & couples ask themselves every year and depending on where you find your information (i.e. Google, Southern Bride, The Knot, etc.) or who you take it from, your best friend, your mom, wedding planner, you will likely get plenty of mixed feedback. Well we are here to help clear up any confusion and hopefully serve as a guide for you on your journey as you search for a wedding photographer as we touch on a few key things to consider from the perspective of the person capturing your special day!
What month are you getting married?
This is probably one of the first big things to consider when deciding how far in advance you want to book your photographer. Being Asheville wedding photographers, we can tell you firsthand that certain months are much busier than others! We happen to live in a destination area and with that comes a lot of couples from out of town who don't always have their photographer travel with them. They come to a town like ours and they want to embrace all we have to offer and this includes different photography vendors. By far and away, May and October are the 2 months in particular that are very popular! It's 2016 and as I type this, we already have 3 of 4 Saturdays for May 2017 booked. Some photographers who are world famous can book years in advance. Something else to consider is how many weddings your photographer of choice will take on in one year. Some limit their number, only concentrating on a select few or only part of the year. In our experience we would highly suggest if you are getting married in one of these popular months, consider trying to book a year or more in advance. Popular professionals will book quickly and depending on the size of their team they may only be able to book 1-2 weddings per day for the popular days like Saturdays and even some Sundays. April, some of June, August, September, and some of November also tend to be popular in this region and this is probably due to being close to the most popular months (May & October) in proximity. If you've decided to get married in Florida in July (like we did) or up north during December, odds are most photographers will have some availability. Of course most of the previous is for your traditional Saturday or Sunday wedding.
What day are you getting married?
If you've decided to break away from tradition and you've decided don't want to get married on a Saturday or Sunday. Friday is easily the next most popular day but don't forget about the other 4 days in the week. We have a handful of Mondays and Friday on the schedule for this year with mid-week days being the least popular. If you find yourself tying the knot on a Friday, we would suggest looking to book your photographer 9-months to a year in advance. Again, there are a lot of factors to consider like how booked your photographer may be, obviously if they are wildly popular you always want to inquire sooner vs later, but if they are not as popular, you probably have a little more wiggle room. It's not to say they aren't amazing, but in the competitive world of internet marketing, seo, and social media, not everyone can be #1 in every search engine! If you find yourself getting married on a non-Friday, non-Saturday, or non-Sunday wedding, generally speaking your photographer will likely have much more availability and thus you could probably get away with waiting 6-9 months.
How long is your wedding going to be?
We can't stress enough how important this is! Many couples we work with simply want to run up to the mountains, hike up to tallest spot they can find with a friend or two and capture a small elopement. If you have a smaller elopement such as 1-3 hours, there's a good chance your photographer of choice may have some availability to squeeze you in. This being said we would still suggest trying to book at least a year out for those looking to schedule during popular months and days. You may also find difficulty scheduling depending on how busy your photographer is. What we mean by this is it may be hard to find someone willing to book a prime Saturday in May or October for 2 hours mid day or around sunset when there's a good likelihood they may be able to book a 6+ hour wedding that day. In the event that it's within a month or 2 and your photographer is not booked, you'll probably have more success getting scheduled! But, some people specialize in small weddings and elopements so this may need to be part of your search criteria. From our experience, we can tell you that especially if it's a early morning elopement, when the soft light of the sun is lighting up the horizon, most people will definitely try to squeeze you in!
At the end of the day, there will always 52 weekends in the year. You're likely eyeing the same approximate dates & times as everyone else, so let's narrow it down to those popular months and cut that in half. Now you're looking at around 25-30 weekends. that equates to 50-60 weekend days available. Now let's narrow that and say you have to have that beautiful May day wedding or an amazing fall backdrop with red, yellow, and orange leaves painting the landscape behind your ceremony, now you're looking at 16-20 potential weekend days. Trust us when we say, for full time photographers, these times book up fast! One of the most painful things for us is to have to respond to an inquiry and say "sorry we are booked" when someone genuinely connects with you and your work. It's an unfortunate reality. We will always try to refer people we cant schedule to other professionals and friends we work with in the industry as we want our clients, potential clients, and almost clients to have the best experience possible. In general, the first 3 things you will need to get are your venue, photographer, and caterer. Make sure to plan early and good luck on your journey!
Joe & Jenny