Post # 1
From the very beginning, my FI and I realized that we’d have to make some sacrifices to keep our 125-150 guest wedding within a $5K budget. We’ve found a fantastic venue that does it’s own catering for incredibly cheap (the venue and all the food — chicken parm., two different pasta options, salad, and bread– will come out to less than $2K) and we’re doing a lot of DIY to keep the cost of everything really reasonable (with the biggest cost savings coming from DIY-ing all our flowers for bouquets & centerpieces).
That said, we’re a little nervous about finding a photographer that will allow us to stay within budget. FI and I have been together for nearly four years now and have a total of maybe 6 pictures together. We’re just not the kind of people who are into constantly whipping out our phones to share every detail of our personal lives on social media, so while we know we want a photgrapher to capture our wedding, it’s simply not a huge priority to us. Wtih that in mind, we did a quick search of area photgrapher’s website shows that most wedding packates START at about $2,500. After a minute of panic, we decided to take a different approach and turned to Craigslist. After searching through (and subsequently veto-ing) a slew of amatuers with questionable photoshop skills, we came across one who has been working as a photographer for about 10+ years and had tons of beautiful, vibrant family portraits, baby & maternity pics, and engagement sessions…but no weddings. We called to find out more and found that she has never shot a wedding, but has recently decided that she wants to become a wedding photographer and has taken classes & workshops on the subject. She’s offering fantastic rates ($550 for all day coverage with edited and non-edited images on a CD plus a free engagement session) in order to break into the industry.
So…what do you think? We love her pictures, but are a bit nervous about her lack of experience (she’s booked a couple weddings that she hasn’t shot yet, so technically we won’t be her first, but still…). Before we make any kind of decision, what questions should we ask? Any advice from brides who have gone through a simmilar experience? Did you regret it or love it?
Post # 2
I know your pain about not wanting to spend a fortune on photos! We found a great photographer that fit our budget after lots of shopping around- he’s half the cost of what some others wanted for the same coverage, is experienced, and his quality is the same with great reviews! We are very excited to work with him.
As far as getting someone who is inexperienced… I’m not sure how I feel about that. Weddings are a lot different than portrait photoshoots. Just because she takes good photos doesn’t mean she will be a great wedding photographer- but she does have a lot of experience as a photographer in general which is definitely good.
I would recommend doing an engagment shoot with her to see how she works, if possible.
Post # 3
Weddings are a challange for photographers. Are you getting married in a church or some other place that has either low light, or flash is not allowed? These are hard conditions to photograph under. Most experienced wedding photographers visit the venues around the wedding time of day before the wedding to get an idea of what to expect. Will she be doing this? Also, make sure she knows the schedule for the day and connect her to your dj or wedding corrdinater so she knows when to anticipating what’s coming next, so you don’t miss key shots. And, give her a list of ‘must have’ shots. A big thing is; does she have back up equipment? Things happen even to the best of people and if she only has one camera and it breaks then all of you are screwed.
Post # 4
I am related to a fabulous photographer who just broke into the industry in a similar way to your Craigslist find. She’s incredibly talented and just needed to build her portfolio, so her first few weddings got an amazing deal on her…if you love what you’ve seen from the Craigslist lady, even if it’s not weddings, I would at the very least set up a meeting. See if she’ll throw in an engagement shoot (she should) and how you as a couple can work with her. If that goes smoothly, I’d say there’s a good chance the wedding will, too. Just in case you might look around at photog blogs to see what photos matter most to you so you can tell her to look for certain things (ie, make sure you get a good detail photo of my whole outfit before I put it on, or photos of the table settings, or whatever).
I think someone totally inexperienced would make me a lot more nervous, but it sounds like she knows what she’s doing.
Post # 5
- Wedding: December 2014 - The Villa
amanda.417: So I booked my photog from Craigslist b/c I was looking for a deal and boy did I find one… his package is very similar to your lady’s but $700. I took a chance on him b/c his website (although limited in pictures) was really awesome. And with the bigger photogs we weren’t even looking at packages that included engagement shoots and we were already up to $2500. I wasn’t really into the whole ‘engagement session’ thing but I thought this would be a great way to judge his work and if we didn’t like him then we’d only lost the deposit and could start over. We took our engagement photos Sunday and Monday morning he sent us a preview shot of a few. I’m blown away. (sorry if this is huge)
Post # 6
amanda.417: This is one area my FI and I increased our budget for. But, pictures are very important to me, and if I’m going to pay someone, I want good quality work.
I know people who cheaped out and hate their wedding pictures because of it. I have planned for months and all I will have are my memories and the pictures. And really in the grand scheme of our lives another $1500 will not make a difference, but we’ll always cherish the photos and be able to share them with generations to come.
Would you be able to see the photos of the other weddings before you book her? Weddings are tricky and there’s not a lot of ‘re-do’ opportunities. A lot of things happen in the moment and it’s nice to have an expereinced professional there to just know when to get those moments so you don’t have to stress out.
Also, try talking to the photographers that you like. I researched and found amazing photographers then e-mailed them, explained what I wanted and my budget and asked what they could do for me. A lot were more than willing to work with us which resulted in me getting a photographer whos style I love and am super excited about for half her listed price.
It never hurts to ask!
Post # 7
This is one of those things that you can’t look at from a purely financial perspective. So much of the wedding hoopla is just fluff. Magazines make it sound like you might as well just not have a wedding if you can’t afford hotel welcome bags and a room full of real flowers and uplighting and hand calligraphy on your escort cards etc etc.
However, when all that is said and done and you realize that no one really cares about chair covers, the one things that you’re left with are the pictures.
I know you aren’t picture people, but are you really going to be ok with taking a risk on your photos? It’s easy to think so now. It seems like you scored such a great deal. But really think if you are prepared emotionally for this risk. Search these boards for things like “I hate my wedding pictures” or “Photographer ruined my photos” or “I hate my album” and read a little about the pain those brides felt.
It sounds like you’ve found a decent option. (It’s not like your brother’s college roommate thinks he can do it.) But just really think about it before you make your decision.
Post # 8
Priorities. How important are photos to you?
I got a Craiglist photographer, I disliked most of his photos but we got a few nice ones and that was good enough for us. I briefly considered doing a re-shoot but never did it.
Some of us will have good experiences, some bad- but what really matters is how upset will you be if your photos suck.
Post # 9
@peony007 : That’s one of the biggest concerns we have, since we’re doing a full Cathoic mass, the lighting for the ceremony will be dim. I love the suggestion about having her come to the church itself. I’ll definately add that to the list of things to ask. Ditto on the back-up equipment.
@NYE2014 : Thanks for sharing your pic..that looks great. My FI and I talked about that and, if we do end up going with this photog, we’re going to ask her if we can see the engagement photos BEFORE paying for the wedding (another concern we have is that her website says she wants 100% up front at the time of the engagment shoot…which means if we end up disliking her style after the e-pics, we’re out the whole amount). If she’s not willing to work with us on this, it may end up being a deal-breaker.
Post # 10
amanda.417: We will definitely hire a new photographer. I would rather hire one who already shot a few weddings, though. I would totally trust my instinct when looking at her/his portfolio. I think unfortunately, most professionnal pics end up looking the same and I’m rarely wowed by their pictures. And many of them look heavily photoshopped, I really dislike that.
Screening through dozens of portfolios, I found that amateur photographers often have an eye for artistic settings and they tend to take less conventional pictures, so most of the times, I’m drawn towards their portfolio. I am totally okay with my pictures being less than perfect on a technical aspect. What is important to me is that our pictures allow us to remember this day and get us a few good couple pictures for us to frame and enjoy. I couldn’t care less if they’re not Pinterest-worthy.
Also, my FI is an infographist so worst-case scenario, we can always improve a few things when we get the digital pictures.
Post # 11
- Wedding: May 2015 - Walnut Hill Bed & Breakfast
I’d meet her and set up an engagement shoot. Everyone needs to get started somewhere and if you already like her other photos I think it’ll probably work out fine!
Post # 12
I’m stuck on your finding a venue for that many with food under 2k. Once I get past that , I’ll give some better advice!
Post # 13
Amanda_B: Things tend to be less expensive where I live in general, but this venue in particular is a budget bride’s dream. In case you’re curious, here’s how the venue/food budget breaks down:
Chicken Parm- ($50/tray, serves 10-15): 12 trays = $600
The Chicken Parm includes penne pasta as a side…we’re doing 1/2 with red sauce & half with white
Salad ($15/tray, serves 10-15): 12 trays = $180
Garlic Bread (2-3 pieces pp @ $1/pp) = $150
Venue Rental (4 hours)= $900
Extra Hours ($200/hour) = undecided! originally we thought just one, now we’re leaning more towards having two.
Which adds to a grand total of $2,030-$2,230 depending on how many extra hours we get.
That said, we will obviously need to recalculate everything once we get closer and have an actual guest count. We’re inviting the 125-150 and honestly believe that the majority will be able to make it, but we may actually adjust the amount of food downward if we get a lot of RSVP “no”s.
Post # 14
What’s your risk tolerance? If this is a scam and you never see the photos or if the photos aren’t to your liking, are you ok with that? Even if you hire the more expensive photographer, there is still a chance that you won’t like the photos, but the probability of being disappointed in lower.
I would say that if you’d be perfectly happy with friends and family photos, then go for it. If you would really miss quality, professional photos, then consider giving up the extra hour or the fancier centerpieces.
Personally, I needed to know that my photographer was very experienced and had many very satisfied brides. I have zero risk tolerance for bad photos.
Post # 15
jamb: I suppose an update to this thread is in order:
FI and I met with the photographer this weekend and absolutely love her personality. We had a whole list of questions and she answered every single one better than we could ever have imagined. In setting up the meeting, she asked questions as to general theme/venues/bridal party/etc. and when we got to the meeting the next day, she indicated that she’d driven by the church and was excited to see the stained glass windows and is already “imagining the fun detail shots she could do with those.” FI and I thought it was pretty funny how excited she was about the whole thing and how many plans and ideas she already had in place.
Anyways, we did mention that our biggest concerns were her lack of expereince with wedding and the fact that her website indicated that she wanted 100% up front…we talked about it an ended up agreeing that: 1) she’d provide a written contract detailing everything we expect from her 2.) we’d pay just half up front with all but $50 refundable if we cancel after receiveing our engagement pictures from her 3.) remaining balance won’t be due until a couple months before the wedding. After we’d agreed to all of this and set a date to take engagement photos, she called back that afternoon and told us that she had talked to her husband and together they had decided that since we will be one of the first weddings she shoots, it would be fair to lower the cost for us, so she’s taking $50 off the cost (that we’d already agreed to!) just to be nice.
Needless to say, we’re thrilled and can’t wait to do the engagement pics. If we like them (and we’re thinking we will), then we’ll know for sure that this is a perfect fit. If not, well, it’ll only be $50 lost!