For our first Wedding Planning Wednesday post I figured it would make sense to begin with a little insight on when to book a wedding photographer. I’ve come across a lot of infographics on the web that give many different time frames for when certain wedding planning items should be checked off. When to book a wedding photographer is one of the items I feel these infographics get wrong. Since Wedding Planning Wednesday is about bringing information to you from a photographer’s perspective, I would like to clear the air, and give you the real scoop on when you should book us!
No engagement timeline is ever the same
Some couples want long engagements, and some want shorter ones. Some couples wait to get married in their favorite season, or sometimes family situations may push a wedding up, or back. Some couples save up money for a year before they set a date and start booking vendors for their wedding. All these things come into play in deciding when to book a wedding photographer for your wedding. However, there is one rule that can apply to everyone; contact your top wedding photographer choice as soon as you have solidified your wedding date! This also applies to any other vendor who is only able to take one event per day; your venue(s), wedding planner, videographer, a band or DJ, and in some cases your caterer. These are all vendors who provide a service on your wedding day, and usually only take one event per day (or weekend in some cases). While you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to book your florist, baker, invitation designer, or transportation company, these vendors provide a product on your wedding day, and usually have the means to accommodate more than one event per day.
The good ones go fast
As a wedding photographer, or any vendor for that matter, gets more popular, their dates book up faster. We’ve noticed this happen based on when we start to get inquiries. Our first 2014 inquiry came in May of 2013, our first 2015 inquiry came in July of 2014, and our first 2016 inquiry came in November of 2014. We also stopped booking 2014 weddings in June of 2014, and we are putting the brakes on 2015 weddings in December of 2014 – a whole 6 months earlier. This doesn’t just apply to your vendors either! Good dates go fast as well. Saturdays fill up earlier and faster than Fridays or Sundays. Prime spring or fall months usually fill up earlier and faster than winter, early spring, or hot summer dates. Holiday weekends tend to popular, and since there is only one memorial day, fourth of July, or labor day weekend per year, they go quickly too.
When to book a wedding photographer
Ideally, and to be safe, you should inquire with your top wedding photographer choice 12-15 months prior to your wedding date if possible. This is especially important if you are inquiring about a wedding date in the months of May-October, since this is the busy season in the wedding industry. Special dates like New Years Day, New Years Eve, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Labor Day weekend, Fourth of July weekend, and Memorial Day weekend will book up in the 12-15 month range as well. Definitely inquire as early as possible with a photographer if you are holding a destination wedding or a multiple day affair. If you are having your wedding in January-April or in November or December, generally dates during these months tend to fill up later and more slowly. But, it never hurts to inquire and book early to be on the safe side.
If you already waited too long
That is okay! The 12-15 month window is just a suggestion. Not every photographer (and maybe not even your favorite) will be booked 12-15 months out. Sometimes, there is no rhyme or reason to when we book a date and when we don’t. For example, this year we have received zero wedding inquiries for Saturday, May 2nd, 2015 (So, hey, if you want to get married that date, get a hold of us!) which is only a mere 6 months away. However, every other Saturday mid April through mid October is already booked on our calendar. If you are planning a shorter engagement anyways, or are otherwise inquiring with your photographer more in the 6-9 month window, there are some things you can do to make your life easier. The first is to have a second or third choice option at the ready, in case your first choice is unavailable. The second is to ask your booked wedding photographer if they can suggest a colleague they know and trust who has the date available. However, the closer you are to your wedding date, the chances are higher the more popular and experienced photographers will be booked for your date as well. The third option is to be flexible with your wedding date. If your first choice wedding photographer is booked on your wedding date, consider asking them if they have any availability surrounding your original date. Chances are, they may have a Friday or Sunday available the same weekend, or perhaps the previous or following Saturday you could move your date to. You should be prepared to be flexible if you are planning a wedding less than a year in advance, and plan on being very flexible if you are planning a wedding less than 6 months in advance, if you want to involve your first choice vendors in your wedding day.
Contrary to what some popular wedding blogs, or Pinterest, or your mom may tell you, please take our advice and don’t wait to inquire with your wedding photographer! Inquire with us 12-15 months prior to your wedding date to be on the safe side, and be prepared to be flexible to get your first choice wedding photographer if you are inquiring less than 6-9 months in advance. We hate turning couples away because they waited too long to inquire about their date! Don’t do that to us!