Finding a wedding photographer that will capture all the beautiful moments on your wedding day is extremely important. 

What if all the photos you had after your wedding were blurry phone photos with bad lighting? 

Would you proudly display those on your wedding collage wall?

How about not having pictures of your wedding at all? 

Or just as bad, having to spend the entire day with an annoying wedding photographer that you can’t stand? 

To avoid those horror scenarios, there are several questions that you should ask yourself while researching the perfect fit for you, as well as questions that you should ask your prospective wedding photographer. 

To be fair, we had a little help compiling the below list of questions and things to keep in mind. 

Melissa Brewer of Melissa Brewer Photography in Columbia, SC, and Sarah Goldman of Sarah Goldman Photography in Charleston, SC were kind enough to share their expert opinions to help you find your perfect wedding photographer. 

Important things to ask yourself before hiring a photographer


1. What is your wedding photographer budget? 

Many photographers have different rates depending on the day of the week (weddings not on a Saturday are often less expensive), whether or not it’s a venue they would love to shoot at or the length of the wedding. I, for one, like to customize collections for my couples, and offer payment plans to make it more affordable.” 

– Melissa Brewer, Melissa Brewer Photography, Columbia, SC

Not sure how to set up your budget? Check out this super helpful blog and our Wedding Budget Calculator!

2. Do you like their style? 

“Obviously, you need to like a photographer’s style.  

When looking at websites, what do their images look like?  Dark and dramatic? Light and airy? Photojournalistic? If you are drawn to high fashion photos with dramatic lighting, don’t pick a photographer with light airy, natural light type images. “ 

– Sarah Goldman, Sarah Goldman Photography, Charleston, SC

3. Can you picture yourself spending your entire wedding day with them?

“Your photographer is the one person you are going to spend your entire wedding day with so you should genuinely like being around them!” 

– Sarah Goldman, Sarah Goldman Photography, Charleston, SC

Important questions to ask your prospective wedding photographer


1. Are they available on your wedding day? 

Ask the wedding photographer you’d like to work with if they are available on your wedding day. Duh!

Side note: It is not a bad idea to pick someone as a backup wedding photographer on the off chance that your original pick has to make last-minute changes…or ghosts you.

2. What type of experience do they have? 

“First and foremost, make sure your photographer is experienced in WEDDINGS. 

Just because they can shoot amazing commercial photography or portraits, does not mean they are equipped or prepared to handle a wedding day. 

Your photographer should have studied under other photographers before taking on a wedding as primary photographer. 

Feel free to ask your photographer about how much experience they have, or ask to see a full gallery or two!

– Melissa Brewer, Melissa Brewer Photography, Columbia, SC

3. What type of equipment do they use and how up to date are they?  And do they have backup equipment? 

It would NOT be ok if your photographer missed ANY part of your wedding because they used unreliable equipment with no plan B.

You want a photographer with a rock-solid plan B, because you’re going to be up to your eyeballs in adrenaline and emotions! You ain’t got time to worry about them! 

4. Do you have a second shooter?  

“Most photographers offer an option for a second photographer at weddings.  

Couples might be tempted to skip out on this to save money, but second shooters offer a second viewpoint during the ceremony.  

How cool is it when you see photos of the bride coming down the aisle and a second perspective of the groom seeing his bride for the first time.  

Also, second shooters are helpful when the bride and groom are getting ready in different locations.  It’s not always feasible for your photographer to photograph the getting ready portion of both the bride and her bridesmaids and the groom and his groomsmen if they are the only photographer. 

I always have a second shooter at least for the ceremony portion;  for me not only does it offer 2 perspectives, but it’s an insurance policy in case of equipment failure at an inopportune moment.” 

– Sarah Goldman, Sarah Goldman Photography, Charleston, SC

5. What kind of products do you offer?

“Most couples just want the digital files from their wedding day, but consider this: 

 What are you going to do with those files?  

Are you going to print them at Walmart or Shutterfly?  

Are you going to share them on Facebook and then let that USB of images collect dust in a drawer? 

Prints and albums from drugstores and Shutterfly may be cheaper, but they will fade with time, and will not be true to color.  Professional photographers work with pro labs that print on archival paper and will have beautiful color. 

Ask your photographer about print options, and other products available.  Your wedding photos were made to be printed – on paper, on canvas, and in a beautiful album.  You can’t hang a CD of images on the wall.” 

– Sarah Goldman, Sarah Goldman Photography, Charleston SC

6. Can you provide a list of references i.e. past wedding clients? 

Honestly, the first thing I do before going anywhere is check Google for other people’s reviews. 

And it shouldn’t be any different for wedding photographers. 

While you can get a feel for their photography style from previous pictures, you don’t truly know how they will be to work with.

Reach out to past clients or find reviews to get a better understanding of who you’ll be spending your wedding day with.

7. Set clear expectations of a timeline. 

Once you’re pretty sure you’ve found the one for you, open up the communication about time commitment with them.

  • How many hours will they spend at your wedding? 
  • Do they charge extra if they need to stay longer? 
  • How much time do you need for family photos and bride and groom portraits?

“2-4 weeks in advance couples should sit down with their wedding photographer and discuss the timeline for the day.  

The most common mistake I see is not adding enough time on the front end for getting ready photos, bridal portraits, etc.  

The more photos you can do before the ceremony, the less time the family formals will take. 

I also encourage couples to consider a “first look” before the ceremony.  The advantages of this are: being able to enjoy that first moment of seeing each other on your wedding day, getting to share a private moment before you are surrounded by wedding guests, and your photographer will be able to capture dozens of beautiful photos of the two of you.  

This sit down is also the time to give your photographer a list of the family photos you want – your photographer should be able to offer a checklist that you can customize.” 

– Sarah Goldman, Sarah Goldman Photography, Charleston SC

8. If your wedding is a destination wedding: How do you handle travel costs? 

Make sure to check with your wedding photographer how they handle travel costs in case that their home base is not where your wedding will be. 

They may just add the travel time in with their hourly rate, include a certain distance for free or have an extra charge for any travel distance. 

9. Lastly, give your photographer the opportunity to ask YOU questions. 

Allow your prospective wedding photographer the chance to ask you questions about your wedding day vision. 

Tell them what pictures or moments are especially important to you, the overall vision for the day, and any other details that may help them create great memories. 

Other things to keep in mind before hiring a wedding photographer


You get what you pay for. 

“You want to make sure your photographer is insured, has legal contracts in place to protect both of you, uses professional equipment and has backup plans in place in case of emergency, and invests in their business. 

A photographer who doesn’t invest in their business isn’t invested in your photos. 

Websites, marketing, and professionalism cost money, so their prices may be higher than your friend with a camera or someone who is less experienced, but it is worth every penny. 

Your wedding dress will be worn once, the food will be forgotten once it is eaten, and the party will last only a few hours. Your photos, however, last FOREVER. These memories cannot be replaced once the day is over. Invest in memories you’re confident you’ll be happy with!”

– Melissa Brewer, Melissa Brewer Photography, Columbia, SC


Search for your wedding photographer off the beaten path.

“Look past the first four pages of Google or The Knot listings. 

Look to see who your friends or family have used, and contact those photographers if you love their work! 

Don’t worry if the photographer is based outside of your immediate area. I travel within 150 miles of my home for weddings all the time, because I love Greenville, Asheville, and the Lowcountry as well as Columbia, SC weddings!”

– Melissa Brewer, Melissa Brewer Photography, Columbia, SC

Another huge thank you to our wedding photography experts, Sarah and Melissa, for sharing their insights with us! If you follow their guidance you should have no problem finding a wedding photographer who will be able to capture the essence of your wedding day. 

What other questions can you think of that would be important to ask before hiring your wedding photographer? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!