Cliff, I spent a lot of time surfing photography websites before choosing my photographer, so I’m happy to weigh in! Here are the things I noticed and that went into my decision.
1. Straightforward pricing. Photography is incredibly important to me, but my fiance and I are on a fairly strict budget. I only interviewed photographers whose prices were within my range. I know that sounds obvious, but I think some vendors assume that brides and grooms on a budget will try to negociate for better prices — and not all of us will. I was interested in a photograher who did not list her prices on her website, so I e-mailed her and asked for her price list. She was out of my budget so I thanked her for her time but did not contact her again. When she e-mailed a few weeks later to follow up, I explained that our budget would not cover her costs — and then she said her prices were "flexible." Well, great, but I’d already put a deposit down on another photographer. If you’re willing to negociate on your pricing packages, tell us that up front instead of waiting for us to guess. Some customers will simply move on to the next photographer rather than try to argue with vendors about their pricing.
2. I love photography blogs. It wasn’t a dealbreaker for me (my photographer doesn’t have a blog) but reading the blogs of other photographers made me feel a personal connection to them and their work. It was also a lot of fun to see all of the weddings they shoot!
3. I was also looking for a calm, professional, non-intrusive presence on my wedding day. If someone seemed too hyper or too into "making the shot" and not enough into going with the flow and recording the important moments as they happened organically, it was definitely a turn-off. That’s a personal thing, I know some brides and grooms really want their photographer to set up fancy, artsy shots, but that just wasn’t what I wanted.
4. It definitely impressed me that my photographer remembered details of particular shoots he did — one bride had just lost her father, another couple wanted tons of pictures with the vintage convertible they’d restored together, etc. It made me feel like he does this because he loves it, and that he’d be equally psyched about shooting our wedding.
I hope that helps!
Edited to add: I also knew I wanted a photographer who would sell me the rights to my images. If that wasn’t an option, I didn’t bother contacting the photographer. Some good friends of mine had a nightmare experience with this — the bride’s mom decided she wanted a parent album, but the photographer said she was "too busy" to do it and suggested they ask again in six months to see if things had cleared up. When my friend asked if she could purchase the rights to the photos to make her mom’s album herself, the photographer said no. Both of them told me not to talk to anyone who wouldn’t sell us our images, and I definitely listened!