As I mentioned in an earlier post, the number one regret brides have is not placing a higher priority upon their wedding photography. No matter how tight your budget is, please, please, please, trust me when I implore you to place a high budgetary priority upon your photography.
Naturally, the reason most people who end up having their friend or relative shoot their wedding is because their budget is tight, and they figure that having it done for free or cheaply, will allow them more money to spend on their venue, catering, flowers, or any number of things.
Consider this: in one year, ten years, twenty years after your wedding, the quality of the Champagne, the lavishness of the food, or the intricacy of the bouquets will have long been forgotten, and you will be left with one thing by which to remember and share the most important day of your life: your wedding photographs. Which is the very reason your wedding photographs are the one and only real and true investment you’ll make for the big day.
Warning: Having a student or hobbyist shoot your big day is dangerous to the health of your wedding. There is a popular myth that wedding photography is “as easy as pie,” which is partially why nowadays every Tom, Dick, and Harry is hanging a shingle out front and setting up shop. However, I assure you there are considerations a skilled wedding photographer must take into account and a massive skill set which they must possess, which are simply inconceivable to the student, the hobbyist, and even to other professionals whose area of specialization is something other than weddings.
Perhaps you have a friend or relative who is a professional, or a semi-pro and you you’re thinking of asking him or her. Even if at first your friend or relative is willing to shoot your wedding for free or nearly free, it is a HUGE JOB to shoot a wedding.
It takes massive amounts of vision, stamina, know-how, focus, presence, creativity, specialized social skills, and expertise directing people that borders on choreography. And that’s just on the wedding day, itself, not to mention all of the planning beforehand and editing afterwards.
The bottom line is that no matter how good a friend they are, if they are a professional or even a semi-pro, you are almost certainly asking too much by asking for free wedding photography or even a “bro deal.” If they do agree to do it, they will not only miss out on enjoying your wedding from the perspective of a guest, but it’s possible that they could come away feeling a bit taken advantage of. I personally know several photographers who’ve been in this very situation.
The exception here, of course, is if your friend/brother/uncle comes to you and offers to shoot the wedding as their wedding gift. In this case, if you like the quality of their work and are confident you’ll get the pictures you want from them, then go for it! I have shot some of my very closest friends’ and family members’ weddings as my gift to them (partially because I couldn’t bear the thought of someone else maybe doing a less-than-stellar job).
The Solution: Don’t skimp on photography, period.
Your peeps will forgive you for having a DJ instead of live band, or skipping passed hors d’oeuvres altogether but you may not forgive yourself if you don’t like your wedding photos.
Be really firm with yourself that the main criteria you will use in choosing your photographer must be the quality of their photography (their gravy, and their potatoes) and their personality (Are they genuine? Do you get the sense that they love what they do?), rather than letting money be the first factor that drives the decision. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should choose the most expensive photographer, or that you shouldn’t pay attention to the value offered, but this is one of the most important days of your life, if not THE most important. Your wedding photographs are your children’s birthright. Don’t skimp.