Hey, I'm Chelsea.

I'm a Chicago wedding photographer and videographer who's on a mission to take the stress out of wedding planning, one anecdote, gif, and movie
quote at a time.

You’ve reached out to potential wedding photographers to make sure they:

  1. Have a portfolio style you love (check!)
  2. Are available for your date (check!)
  3. Fall within your budget (check!)

Now that you’ve whittled down your list of options, it’s time to schedule a meeting with your favorites.

The main goal of this meeting, AKA “consults” or “discovery calls”, is to make sure your personalities mesh. It’s also the perfect chance to ask any lingering questions. Not sure what to ask? I’ve got you covered.

Here are the 11 important questions you should ask before you book a wedding photographer.

Couple dancing under Chicago's honeycomb in Lincoln Park

Important wedding photographer questions (and why you should ask them):

1. Will you be the person photographing our wedding?

It is extremely important that you build a connection with the person who’ll be photographing your wedding. That’s the secret to having natural, candid photos you’ll love to look back on.

Occasionally, larger photography studios will have dedicated salespeople handle calls (not the photographers themselves). If the person on the phone won’t be at your wedding, ask if you can schedule a time to talk to the person who will be. That way you can make sure your personalities mesh before you commit to booking.

2. How many weddings have you photographed?

Real experience comes from the number of weddings a photographer has worked, not the number of years they’ve been in business. The more weddings a photographer has documented, the more they’re able to adapt to any situation thrown at them.

3. How do you approach a wedding day?

This question helps explain your wedding photographer’s style in layman’s terms. Ask them to elaborate on how they photograph different parts of the day.

Are they the kind of photographer that prides themself on posing to make you feel comfortable and confident? Or are they someone who seems to take more of a hands-off approach?

If you find yourself nodding your head excitedly while they talk, you know you’ve found a photographer who’s a great style fit for your wedding.

Websites and social media feeds are the ‘greatest hits’ of photographers. We specifically pick the photos that will stand out and get your attention. Ask to see a full gallery (or multiple galleries) to make sure you will be happy with the end product you receive.

This is how you’ll get a first-hand look at:

  • How many photos you’ll get
  • What their style is (and how it translates at different parts of the day)
  • How they edit their images (and if their editing is consistent with their social media + website portfolio)

Pro Tip: Look at the reception photos. Every photographer takes great photos during the day. But a lot of your wedding events will take place after the sun goes down. Make sure the photographers you chat with know how to take great photos at night and in dark spaces.

5. If things run late, can you stay? What’s your overtime rate?

I recommend asking your wedding photographer this question because life happens and weddings can run late. When looking at wedding packages (and determining how many hours to book), make sure to factor this in.

For example: if your first dance happens at 9 PM, make sure your photographer stays until at least 9:30 PM. It gets you great dance floor candids and is a buffer if things run late. Alternatively, ask what their policy is if the timeline runs late day-of. Will they leave or will they stay and bill you for additional hours?

6. Have you photographed at our venue or a venue similar to ours?

⚠️ NOTE: If your photographer says no, don’t consider it a dealbreaker.

A professional wedding photographer will be able to work at any venue, even if they’ve never been there. If a photographer hasn’t worked at your venue specifically, ask for examples of work at similar venues. That will help you visualize what your photos will look like, lighting and color-wise.

7. Is an engagement session included, or is it an extra cost?

Ask potential wedding photographers this question even if you’re on the fence about engagement sessions. They’re a great way to get comfortable in front of the camera—that’s why most wedding photographers include them in wedding packages. If the package info doesn’t mention an engagement session, ask if it’s included or if it’s an extra fee.

8. What are your backup plans?

It’s always good to check in and see what a photographer’s backup plan is. Double-check that they have backups when it comes to:

  • Their equipment: do they have backups just in case their equipment breaks during your wedding
  • An emergency: what’s their plan if they get sick or are unable to make it to your wedding
  • Your files: how do they back up your wedding photos after the wedding

9. Do you have insurance?

Wedding venues usually require that your wedding photographer has liability insurance. Make sure to double-check with potential photographers that they carry it. If not… 🚩🚩🚩.

10. Do we need to order albums and prints through you?

Modern wedding photographers will give you printing rights to your wedding photos. This means you can download the high-resolution files and print them wherever you’d like. On the flip side, there are some photographers who require that you order prints through them. Make sure to ask for more details and keep that pricing in mind when budgeting.

11. How do we book?

If the photographer’s answers lined up with what you want and you vibed with their personality, ask about the next steps. This should involve signing a contract and paying a non-refundable retainer. They should also spell out the payment plan. If you have any questions about payments, this is the time to bring them up.

There you have it! Those are the questions you should ask when you meet with potential wedding photographers. These questions make sure you’re a perfect fit AND make sure you know what to expect.

Pro Tip: Only ask the questions you actually care about. Wedding blogs like The Knot, Brides, and Style Me Pretty offer a long list of questions you should ask wedding photographers. Some of the questions are extremely helpful… and others are niche questions that you may not care about.

Go with your gut and only ask the questions that feel relevant to you. If you don’t care what I wear to your wedding or whether I’ve worked at your venue before, that’s okay. Don’t feel obligated to ask it. It’ll make the meeting more enjoyable and you’ll get way more out of it.

Want more wedding planning tips?

To quote my girl Viola Hastings, I’ve got a lifetime of knowledge. And, by lifetime, I mean 8 years and over 200 weddings’ worth. So go ahead, command-click these posts & add them to your tab collection: