When to Book a Wedding Photographer (and Where to Look)

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by  Kate Parker | Last Updated: 
wedding photographer

Made your wedding prep checklist but are already stuck on one of the first items? When planning a wedding, booking your wedding photographer should be one of the first things you do, right after finalizing the venue. Knowing when to start searching, however, and just where exactly to look can seem like a never-ending task in itself!

We’ve broken down the decision process so you will be able to confidently go out and find the perfect wedding photographer for your special day.

A lot is riding on just one day and you want to make sure each detail is captured so you never forget. 

Over the course of your wedding day there will be lots of special moments you will want to have photographed:

  • The bridal and grooms’ parties getting ready
  • Ceremony detail and venue
  • The family photos and newlywed photo shoot
  • Reception detail and venue
  • The first dance, speeches, and cake-cutting
  • Plus, all the candid moments from the dance floor!

Read on and I’ll cover the booking details, costs, and just how to find your dream photographer.

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When is the Best Time to Get a Wedding Photographer?

Summer and Early Fall Weddings

With a whopping 80% of 2021 weddings taking place between May to October, there’s a good reason they call it the wedding season. 

If you are getting married during summer and early fall, you’ll find that demand can be high for popular photographers. This means that as soon as you know your wedding day, you should start looking for a wedding photographer.

When to book:

I recommend beginning your search with 12 months to go, allowing more time if you find yourself with a longer engagement period and have more wriggle room.

Don’t have 12 months? The next best time to book is now.

Winter or Autumn Weddings

Go you, wild child! 

You aren’t fussed about a bit of colder weather, or maybe you live in a warm climate all year round and timing isn’t an issue.

If you are getting married during the off-season months, you’ll likely find it easier to get your top choice because the majority of couples opt for a date during the wedding season. This doesn’t mean you can sit back and leave it to chance though. Some wedding photographers take on other work during their off-season or plan their holidays around their off-peak times.

When to book:

Give yourself six months to spare when booking a photographer in the off-season.  

Destination Weddings

Decided to whisk your nearest and dearest friends and family away to an exotic location to say the big ‘I do”?

Whether it’s a cliff-top lookout or island resort, getting the perfect photos is now more important than ever.

According to go-to wedding website Brides, if you’ve opted for a destination wedding, you now have two options. Either connect up with a local photographer who lives near the place you are getting married or book a wedding photographer in your city willing to travel.

Though both of these options work, it may be easier to build a relationship with your photographer before the wedding if they live near you and you can meet them in person prior to the day.  

When to book:

Timing will be completely contextual to where you are getting married, but I recommend engaging with a local-to-you wedding photographer at least 12 months in advance, as not all are prepared to travel.

If you choose to go with a local-to-your-venue wedding photographer, you may have more time up your sleeve but bear in mind the more popular destinations may have only a small selection of available photographers who will get booked out fast. 

Do Wedding Photographers do Engagement Shoots?

Not sure where to put that awkward arm when smiling down the barrel? Can’t remember which is your good side? Sort it all out during your engagement shoot.

Think of the engagement shoot as a warmup before the big day. 

There’s no pressure of fitting into a schedule and you’re free to have fun before the real nitty gritty of wedding prep takes over.

Some wedding photographers like to offer this as a complimentary shoot so they can get to know you as a couple before the actual wedding day, whereas others include this as part of their wider wedding packages.

To get those creative juices flowing, check out this Harper Bazaar’s for stunning engagement shoot inspiration

How Much Does a Wedding Photographer Cost?

Just how much exactly does it cost to have those wedding day details snapped, framed, and cherished forever?

Wedding photographers price based on their level of experience, though more experience doesn’t always equal the best photographer for your wedding.

Depending on what’s included in your package will also determine your final bill, as well as the distance required to travel, shoot time, retouching, whether or not you want an album, and if you’re opting for an engagement shoot.

Prices can vary from $2,000 to $10,000, with the average wedding photographer in 2022 charging under $4,000.  

What is a Good Gift for a Wedding Photographer?

Skip the camera-themed novelty purchases (thank me later, your photographer doesn’t want another mug) and if you choose to gift, get something from the heart.

It doesn’t have to be big either. A personal thank-you during your wedding speeches or a social media shout-out to all your friends recommending their services are things you can do for absolutely free that say a lot.

Wedding photographers will say that gifting is not expected but a nice surprise. If you feel like your wedding photographer went above and beyond, or maybe felt like family by the end of the day, then getting them something special is a lovely gesture.

Wedding photographer Toni Christine says the best gift she can receive from her past clients is referrals. “It’s truly the best thing you can do for your photographer”, Toni explains.

How Much Should I Tip the Wedding Photographer?

Budget running out quicker than your fiancé’s patience during your ‘first dance’ rehearsals?

You may be required to tip your reception staff and hairdresser but rest assured tipping your wedding photographer is completely optional, and not required if you are down to your last penny.If you do choose to tip your photographer for their stellar job, between $50 – $200 is standard.

Where Do I Find a Great Wedding Photographer?

Don’t get lost in the Google abyss looking for your wedding photographer. Here’s how you can narrow down your selection (and actually have fun in the process).

Referrals from Your Network

You now have permission to stalk your friend’s sister’s social media accounts (again) to get a closer look at her wedding photos.

In all seriousness though, make a list of all the people you know who have gotten married in the past few years and check out their photos. By doing this you will find out what type of style you like, i.e., candid, contemporary, or traditional.

Facebook Groups

Avid community group scroller? Or have you already joined every wedding group you can find?

Now is your chance to ask your fellow group members for advice and recommendations. Get messaging!

My go-to Facebook Group when I was getting married was My Wedding Chat. There are over 33,000 bride-to-be’s in there with all sorts of information. You can ask local-specific questions too and there’s usually someone who can pitch in with an answer. 

Google Search

Yes, Google is a fab tool for your research but stick to some parameters. First, narrow down your search to keywords that include your location and style, for example, ‘Texas wedding photographer contemporary outdoors style’.

Once you have found a few websites you like the look of, request portfolios and narrow your choice down from there.

Referrals from Your Other Wedding Vendors

Your other vendors may be connected with photographers from within the industry and can make a recommendation based on the style you’re after.

Referrals from your venue

Definitely check with your venue about which photographers are often booked for their site. Just remember you want your photos to feel fresh so try to avoid any photographers who seem to always take the same photos at the same spots.


Search up your venue hashtag and see which wedding photographers were chosen by other newlyweds who got married at the same spot as you.

You can also search for photographers in your area using #LocationWeddingPhotographer.


Who doesn’t love a Pinterest board when planning a wedding? Pinterest will give you lots of inspiration on the style of photos you want, as well as link out to popular wedding photographers who have popular images and lots of pins.

Wedding shows

You may have to come face to face with some competing soon-to-be-weds, but wedding shows are full of vetted vendors, including wedding photographers.

Wedding-themed magazines

Grab a copy of your local wedding mag and check out the directory at the back for their top vendor recommendations. If you’re after something a bit unique this might not be the best option for you, as they will most likely offer recommendations suitable to a mainstream audience.

Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

Unlike your florist or your caterer, your wedding photographer is the one vendor who will be with you all day long. This means it’s important to have a set of questions in mind that you can ask potential photographers so you can make sure you find a good match. 

I’ve broken them down for you here:


  • Are you available on your wedding day and how many other weddings will you be shooting that weekend?
  • Are you willing to travel to our venue? What radius do you travel at your own cost and how do your rates work once you cross that distance? 
  • What is your cancellation policy? Do you shoot in all weather and conditions?
  • Do you have an assistant, and would they also be shooting at my wedding?
  • What is the turnaround for receiving the photos?
  • Do you offer editing and retouching and is this an added cost?


  • What is your backup plan if the unexpected happens and you and your assistant cannot make it on the day of the wedding?
  • What is your working style during a wedding?
  • What sort of communication will we have on the actual day?


  • Can I see examples of photos from a venue similar to mine?
  • Would you say you specialize in contemporary, candid, or traditional photography?
  • How would you describe your personal photography style? Do you blend into the crowd, or do you prefer to set up your own shots?

Price and package

  • What’s included in your standard package and what is an extra cost?
  • Are engagement photos included in your packages? And what about pre-wedding events like rehearsal dinners?
  • Do you provide digital or print copies, and is there an option to receive the images in a photo album?

Should I Ask Someone in My Family to be My Wedding Photographer?

This is a tricky one. There is a lot of pressure when it comes to your wedding photos and passing this on to someone who is a part of your life can put you in an awkward position down the track if things don’t turn out how you had hoped.

Unless you have a family member who comes with a sparkly reputation as a wedding photographer, I recommend starting your search further afield than your family circle. 

It can be tempting to lean on the family as a way to get yourself a bargain but trust me, the smaller details of the day will be forgotten in years to come but you will have your photos forever. It’s worth splurging on your wedding photographer to avoid disappointment.  


So yeah, no pressure or anything but choosing a wedding photographer is right up there with one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your wedding. 

How you choose to arrange your flowers and whether or not the cake flavor was a hit will soon be forgotten but your wedding photos will sit proudly printed and framed for you and your nearest and dearest to admire and reminisce on forever. 

If you’ve made it to the end of this post though, you now have all the info you need to go out and book the wedding photographer that’s just right for your wedding.

Happy searching and I promise in no time at all you’ll be ticking off your last to-do’s and breezing down the aisle for all your loved ones to see.


How much does a wedding photographer cost?

In 2022, the average wedding photographer will charge between $2,000- $4,000.

What are the different styles of wedding photography to consider?

Wedding photography styles can be broken down into three categories. Candid, contemporary, and traditional.

Photographers specializing in candid photography will join in on the action of your wedding so they can capture your guests having fun without the need for posing.

Contemporary photographers will lean into the drama of the venue and the lighting on the day to capture creative shots that take in the mood and setting. If you have an outdoor venue, the contemporary photographer will draw out the natural beauty and show off your location the most.

Traditional photographers specialize in posed, formal photography and work great for when large families are needing to be photographed.

What are the wedding photography trends now?

Think less polaroid cameras on the table and selfie-style snaps. And more soft lighting, candid in-the-moment shots at the reception, and contemporary ‘editorial’ style newlywed shoots, favoring the outdoors.

With newlyweds in 2022 opting for smaller weddings than ten years ago, minimalism is in and less is more when capturing the action in wedding photography.

In 2022, couples are opting for less editing and posing in favor of more natural, creatively cropped imagery to show off their day.

What are the biggest regrets when it comes to wedding photography?

Common wedding photo regrets often talked about by married couples are:
– Not having proper conversations with your wedding photographer about certain photos you wanted to be captured, then missing out on having these moments captured. 
– Not scheduling enough time for photos when planning your wedding ceremony and reception timings. 

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Get instant access to the top 50 pages from my wedding planner for FREE!

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