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 announced your engagement and have enjoyed some time basking in newly-engaged bliss. Now, the reality starts to set in—you’ve got a wedding to plan and you’ve got a laundry list of vendors to book. If you’ve suddenly become addicted to Google Sheets and you find yourself wondering things like, “When should I book my wedding photographer?”, you’ve come to the right place.

Before you start to get overwhelmed, I want you to take a deep, calming breath.

Jimmy Fallon taking a deep, calming breath—just like you are before you tackle booking your wedding photographer.

First things first, you’ve got this. You’re about to kick wedding planning’s ass. Now, let’s talk bookings—specifically when to book your wedding vendors.

As a wedding photographer, let me give you some insight into my neck of the wedding industry.

When To Book a Wedding Photographer

There are a few key factors that determine when you should book your wedding photographer:

  • Time of year. Keep in mind that August–October is Chicago’s “busy season”. This is when the majority of weddings take place. So if you’re getting married then, make sure to reach out to your vendors as soon as possible for first pick.
  • Your Priority. If wedding photography is a high priority, you’ll want to book as soon as possible. Focus on first booking the vendors that matter the most to you. If you care more about food or dancing, it’s ok to wait a little longer to book your photographer. Just know that you might get hit with some “we’re already booked” messages.
  • Your Venue. Some venues are more difficult to photograph than others. If you’re getting married in a darker space—like a loft or concert hall—you’ll want to make sure you hire a skilled photographer who can confidently work in dark venues with little-to-no natural light.

That being said, wedding photographers tend to book up a year (or more) in advance. So if there’s a particular photographer you have your heart set on, reach out to them sooner rather than later.

PRO TIP: it never hurts to reach out to a photographer you love, even if you feel “behind”. Whether you’re getting married 13 months from now or 3 months from now, go ahead and inquire with your dream vendors. Worse case, they say they’re booked and offer you some great referrals.

Now, if you’re still basking in your newly-engaged glow, you might be thinking, “But what if we don’t have a wedding date set?”

In that case, you’ve got a few options:

  1. If you’ve got a “must book” photographer, reach out and ask what dates they have available. You can use that as a deciding factor when booking your venue.
  2. If you are just starting to research wedding photographers, pause your search until you’ve decided on a date. Our process heavily relies on knowing when your wedding is, so focus first on finding the venue of your dreams. Everything else will fall into place.

And, if you’re new to the world of wedding photography… welcome! Here are a few resources to help you out:

Want more wedding planning resources?

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