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         First, an ugly truth about wedding photography:
         Very few photographers who are any good at the craft actually like doing wedding photography.  The corollary to this is a sizable percentage of people who are out there doing wedding photography are… well… hacks.  I wish I could say that the world worked some other way; but I’m willing to bet that if you think of your friends who’ve been married, you can think of at least one couple who’d happily tar and feather the person they hired to shoot their big day.
         That having been said, there are a number of things you can do to improve your odds of hiring somebody competent.  There are also a number of things you absolutely must do if you’re to assure that even the most competent of wedding photographers does a decent job.  And I’ll give you a few hints as to what they are here, on the off chance that you convince me to shoot your wedding.  I don’t do them often myself; but when I do I like to know that the bridal party and I are singing from the same song sheet.  Otherwise, we all go home miserable.
         The first rule to follow is to have a plan for your wedding and your reception.  On the surface, this probably seems painfully obvious.  But there somehow seems to be a limitless supply of people who make it all the way to the altar only to say, “Now what do I do?”  Your photographer is not your choreographer, and anybody who’s any good as a shooter is likely to resent your putting him in that role.
         On the flip side, when you hire a photographer, make sure that you’ve hired somebody who’s going to take the time to go to the rehearsal and find out what’s going to happen at the actual event.  I’m sorry, but if you’re paying a four figure amount for somebody to shoot a few photos, the least he can do is drag his butt into a church for an hour a couple of nights beforehand.  I personally can’t imagine myself showing up at a strange location with strange people and no concept of the order of business – and still manage to do my best work.  I go to the rehearsals.  Always.  Period.  I encourage you to demand no less.
         If you would like suggestions as to how to do something at the ceremony or the reception, feel free to ask me at the rehearsal.  This is where I’ll be happy to offer advice.  Don’t put me on the spot at the actual event.  I’m only willing to give just enough direction to get the requisite group shots.  How you toss the bouquet or say the vows is your own problem.
         Also be aware that a photographer is not a videographer.  I have yet to meet the person sufficiently skilled at doing two things at once that he could handle both of these demanding jobs.  If you want video, hire somebody specifically to do video.
         When shopping for a photographer, start shopping early, and be prepared to pay a fair price.  Like most pro’s, I resent being asked on short notice, and I resent being told that a quote of mine is being used to lowball somebody else.  I further resent being told somebody else’s price is lower.  Frankly, I don’t care.  I know what the market is charging.  And I know what the quality of my stuff is and the fair price for it.  If you want something cheaper, fine.  If you want to dicker on price, fine.  Just don’t do it here.