Originally, we weren't going to hire a photographer for the wedding.
How can you not hire a photographer for one of the most momentous occasions of your lives? You may ask. First, low budget wedding or blowout, wedding photographers still cost what they cost. On some wedding budgeting websites, the photographer is the single most expensive line item or category. Most wedding photographers sell packages which is the only way in which they will work. Even photographers who have mirror selfies, appalling Photoshop work in their gallery pages, and widespread spelling and grammatical errors still begin at $1000 and move up from there. The studios with more polished pages are more expensive. I saw one package for $2000 which included two photographers and up to five locations. Why five? Engagement photos and wedding right? Maybe three if you have your wedding and reception in two different places? You are missing the hair test and dress test and "trash the dress" photo sessions. If you want to be amazed start at TheKnot.com and look up some of these photographers prices.
The wedding industry in America has clearly taken a page from higher education. It is a multi-billion dollar industry which has massively swelled. Why is college so expensive? They added a new tier of administration to squeeze more money from alumni, governments,and students while simultaneously adding additional amenities and specialized courses. And they all point at each other and claim that every school is building a Hadron collider and a water park these days to attract more students.
Similarly, there is now a level of customization and service to all aspects of the wedding to the point that even weddings which consist of two people exchanging twist ties in the food court still must have M&Ms printed with "Babs & Al at Tri-County Savers Mall." I read someplace that the average American wedding costs $10,000.
Between the insane costs for weddings, depressing levels of student debt, and the feeling of trying to simply keep with the Millennial Jones (Tiffany got married in an old barn, we need to get married in an old suspender factory with a tango band from Buenos Aires!") many people my age are simply dispensing with the wedding entirely. Which is really sad, actually.
At one point were simply considering strapping a GoPro on a random guest, or Aunt Kim's trained Yorkshire Terrier.
We told ourselves, "Everyone has iPhones, we'll just get photos from them" which later became, "We'll ask one of our friends to be the designated photographer."
But it's a crappy thing to do to a guest who maybe had to burn some vacation time, and at a minimum bought a plane ticket and a hotel. So we wisely abandoned it and went back to the "no photographer" thought until we asked each other, "are we going to regret not hiring a photographer? " And the answer was, definitely yes.
I quickly abandoned TheKnot.com. The vendors on the site are outrageously expensive. I googled "photographer Baton Rouge" and got some photographers who wouldn't return my emails.
Before considering chloroforming a photography student from Tulane, I turned to Craigslist (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap™) and hit up a few studios who had remarkably not terrible photos. What we wanted, at this point, was simply someone who could make sure a person was mostly in the frame and reasonably in focus. "We need someone to document our wedding," I said. I actually searched for crime scene photographers.
But in the end, we picked a good compromise. Jacqueline had a reasonable, flat hourly rate, her gallery photos didn't suck, and she replied in a timely manner to our emails. Saori wasn't totally convinced but then I asked her to spend fifteen minutes searching for other studios and after comparing prices told me "BOOK HER IMMEDIATELY"
And I'm happy we did. Actually, I think from our planning side it was one of the better decisions we made for the wedding. $500 bought us four hours of her time (plus almost an extra hour she put in free there) a ton of photos, all free to download or post or whatever (!) and a nice mix of portraits, candids, and ambience. She was patient and great to work with and proposed some things that we liked.
Now we just need to consolidate all the photos from the wedding and make a book.