What You Need to Know About Wedding Photography: Part I

 If a picture is worth a thousand words, then wedding photographs are priceless.

You’ve already found THE PERFECT dress and a handsome groom. Plus, you’ve designed your wedding bouquet (with hot pink peonies, of course), rented a tent, selected a cake. The list goes on.

Wedding Photography

Image courtesy of Brasspenny Photography

Don’t forget to capture the magic of your special day with professional photographs – the key word being “professional – that will last a lifetime.

We sat down with Nashville-based wedding photographer, Rachel Tenpenny of Brasspenny Photography, to get the scoop on wedding photography! This is only Part I, so stayed tuned for Part II.

Q: What is your number one recommendation when selecting a photographer?

A: Find someone whose style you love and whose work is consistent and trustworthy. Ask the prospective photographer to send you 2-3 full wedding galleries. They should have no problem obliging – and it gives you a glimpse into the kind of work they do for a full wedding, not just the best images that they share on their website or Instagram.

Also, ignore the “What to Ask Your Wedding Photographer” lists that are scattered across Pinterest; it doesn’t really matter what gear your photographer uses, as long as they are delivering work you love.

Q: What does a typical wedding day photo schedule look like? And how do you get all the photos without keeping your guests waiting forever?

Day-of wedding schedules vary from wedding to wedding, but here’s a typical wedding day for me:

I arrive about an hour before the girls finish getting ready, so I can snag Getting Ready shots of the girls and guys, as well as set-up shots, hang-the-dress, and gorgeous detail shots of the rings and other goodies.

After everyone is dressed, we start portraits. If we do a First Look, then it goes first, and then we finish as many photos as possible prior to the ceremony; we finish the rest afterward.

First Looks are a great way to speed up the post-ceremony photography process and get you to reception – and to partying with your guests – sooner. But certainly, don’t feel obligated to do one if you’re a more traditional bride.

About 50 percent of my brides don’t do a First Look, and we’re still able to get about 60 percent of photos done prior to the ceremony (shots that include the bride and groom together can be done after nuptials are exchanged).

When a bride and groom does a First Look, we typically ONLY do golden hour couples’ photos after the ceremony (the rest is finished beforehand). And if they opt to keep it traditional, then we usually have about 30-40 minutes of photos before the reception.

I always ask my brides to fill out a formal Family Shot List so we know exactly what we’re working with prior to the wedding day.

And sometimes, if schedules are tight after the ceremony, we will finish bridal party and family, then go to the reception for the introduction/first dance, and while guests are being served dinner, the couple and I sneak out for 15-20 minutes of golden hour photos.

There are a MILLION ways to make your wedding day dreams work for you, but they key is proper planning from the beginning.

Learn about Wedding Photography

Image courtesy of Brasspenny Photography

Q: Let’s talk dollars and cents. Wedding photography can cost more than the dress! Please explain.
A: I think a lot of couples are shocked at the sticker price of wedding photography. As cheesy as this saying goes, it’s true: other than your all-consuming passion and love for each other, wedding photography is literally the ONLY thing you are purchasing for your wedding that is going to last forever – and that you will be using again and again.

Don’t you want to make sure it’s of high quality???

If a price tag looks low – and you know you’re paying for a beginner or student – you have to expect that quality of work. If you are working with a full-time wedding photographer who has been in the industry for 8 or 9 years, their prices will reflect as much.

Never be afraid to do your research, so you know what the going rate for quality wedding photography is in your area.

Know that your photographer isn’t “just getting paid for 8 hours at your wedding.” Oftentimes, the price tag can very easily be broken down beyond the time spent shooting on your wedding day and time spent editing. Photographers still have to keep up their business, and their pricing factors in things like business insurance, equipment upkeep, the little amenities you receive throughout the process like online gallery delivery, etc. that aren’t necessarily included in the “wedding package,” but are all very much part of the whole package.

Keep in mind: most photographers are aware that every couple has a budget, and most photographers are also willing to work out personal payment plans, as well as tailor packages to fit your needs.

Check out Part 2.

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