Second in a series.
After investigating photographers online  and receiving referrals from friends or planners, the next step in finding the perfect wedding photographer is to contact your short list of photographers and schedule an appointment with each.
Before you meet with a photographer, however, make sure you have set a date and reserved a location. Without both, photographers often can’t guarantee their availability or estimate travel costs.
Here are five tips when meeting with photographers:
1. Interview at least three and meet with your top pick last. By meeting with three photographers, you have a better basis for making a final decision. Besides seeing images online, you get to hear from each photographer, touch and feel the final product (usually a wedding album) and compare pricing. Meeting with your top pick last is better than than meeting them first. Having a basis of comparison is important. It may be the first two photographers you meet with pale in comparison to your top pick — or you could learn that your top pick isn’t really that much different.
2. Focus on the relationship first, not the money. Having a good feeling about the photographer is more important than his or her price. I can guarantee you that a photographer you genuinely like will make better photographs of you than one you don’t. The reason for this is simple: You have to be able to trust them on your wedding day and share your emotions freely with them. Personally, I’m more excited about photographing weddings where I have a good relationship with the couple, know they’re excited about me and my work, and are willing to trust me on their wedding day.
3. Know your budget to avoid sticker shock. You may have seen a photographer’s price point or price list on their Web site. Whatever that is, by establishing a budget for your entire wedding, you can determine what you’re willing to spend for photography. Every couple’s priorities are different. It may be that food or the band or the dress is more important than the photography. It also may be that photography is the most important priority on your wedding day. If the latter is the case, you should be prepared to spend more on your photography. By knowing what you plan to spend in advance, you’re less likely to get sticker shock when considering a photographer’s fee.
4. All-inclusive packages can save you money. Most established wedding photographers offer one or more all-inclusive packages. Packages are usually less expensive than if you were to pay for each component individually. The reason for this is that by purchasing a package, you’re meeting the photographer’s minimum price point. In my own business, my starting package includes photography of the entire wedding day, a wedding album and online proofing. This is what I believe to be the necessities for any wedding couple. If you don’t see a package the works for you, don’t be afraid to request a custom quote. Many photographers are happy to provide you with exactly what you want. All you have to do is ask.
5. Be honest if you can’t afford the price. If the photographer’s price is still too high, lay out your budget for them and ask how they can help. Most photographers are flexible, especially if they click with you or think your wedding might be something special. Finally, if you can’t afford the photographer and there isn’t any chance to make it work, ask for a referral. Odds are good they know a photographer with a similar approach that you can afford. It may be the other photographer is not as established, but if you have good rapport and their pictures are good, this may be the right choice for you.
Next: The importance of an engagement sitting and how to plan your wedding day photography.