Risky Business

We (I) started looking for a photographer pretty quickly. Several years ago, my aunt (the mother of our adorable ring bearer!) had an intimate destination wedding on the beautiful island of Kauai. She had a gorgeous ceremony, a handsome groom and unbelievable weather (and yours truly as a junior bridesmaid!). It was perfect! The only thing she didn’t have? Pictures.

My aunt and her husband

My aunt is a smart woman, an artist, and not strapped for cash. She is also the last person who would hire someone unprofessional, untalented or suspiciously priced. He showed up to the wedding, did his thing, and that was that. He sent them a few sneak peek pictures a week or two later and then….nothing. Long story short, he skipped town. This was probably eight or nine years ago, and as far as I know, she still hasn’t heard from him. Thankfully my grandparents are never without a digital camera, so she still had a few pictures to treasure.

It’s interesting the level of trust we place in our vendors; how huge it is that we place our perfect day in their hands! Of course things like contracts protect our financial investments, but that’s hardly a consolation. I sometimes suffer from memory problems (I guess my doctor would blame it on ADD) and I’m committed to remembering every detail. Because of this and my aunt’s experience, I was prepared to do my research. I’m not sure how long Weddingwire or similar review sites have been around, but I creep those sites like nobody bidness.


Image via knowyourmeme

Problem: our budget was relatively low. Our original budget for photography (with or without engagement pictures) was originally $1800, or 10%. Luckily, our long-ish engagement gave us (me) plenty of time to search.

SPOILER ALERT: We discovered later that the best way to stay in budget was to find a photographer whose style we really loved, tell them our budget dilemma and ask them if they happened to know anyone with a similar style whose business is relatively new, but may have been a second shooter/intern for someone prestigious for years. They have the talent and respect of a professional, but not the “reputation” that costs you. If you have the time to find that balance, I highly recommend this method!

We considered a few options. I think everyone within 100 miles knows that photographers like Allison Davis and Johnathan Ivy are pretty much the gold standard in Dallas. They absolutely deserve every penny! I love their work, and with that in mind, I set out to find someone with similar talents more in our price range. It was an adventure!


Photo Credit: Allison Davis

Photo credit: Jonathan Ivy

Despite being amazing in their own right, these particular pictures are of our venues! Left: Reception Right: Church (More on that later!)

Have you had any family experiences that effect the way you deal with vendors? Are you willing to trust a relatively new vendor if they are backed by professionals?


Miss Manatee

Fort Worth, TX
Wedding Date:
June 2013
Not Losing, But Giving
My Signature Scent: Hairspray
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  1. Member
    texasaggiemom 595 posts, Busy bee @ 10:37 am

    Hope you’ll let us know who you selected – we’re having the same quality vs. budget dilemma and we’re in your area.

  2. castle Bee
    castle 1191 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:33 am

    Ah! Your poor Aunt! I hope you guys found someone awesome! What a great idea to ask about references for other people within your budget!

  3. Member
    PrincessConsuelaBananaHammock 369 posts, Helper bee @ 11:51 am

    That is exactly what we did! I found a photog that I LOVED, but was way out of our budget, then I found a photog who had trained with her but that was just starting out. We have saved thousands but are still getting an amazing and super talented photographer.

  4. Member
    happyface 5777 posts, Bee Keeper @ 12:12 pm

    Sorry about your aunt and uncle, at least they had some nice ones from the grandparents. What a way to learn that not all vendors are honest. I hope your photographer will do a great job and we get to see the results!

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Bsbee, Guest @ 12:33 pm

    I found a wonderful photographer when my friend posted pro pics of her and her BF. She had samples and wonderful testimonials and she was local. We get One Photographer – 7 hours of coverage
    images retouched & edited on proof CD
    All Color, Black and White, Vintage & Sepia Tone enhancements available.
    Pre-Ceremony, Ceremony & Post Ceremony Family Shots, & 3 hours of reception coverage.
    EXTRA: DVD Slideshow of images set to music highlighting your special day.
    11×14 of your favorite wedding image.

    And the best part she’s only charging 700$

  6. mstoadstool Bee
    mstoadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 12:18 pm

    I actually booked our videographer from a new business, even without knowing he’s worked for some of the best studios in town.
    I think sometimes new vendors tend to go that extra mile in an attempt to make you super happy and get you to recommend them.

  7. Member
    ms. headphone 290 posts, Helper bee @ 6:03 pm

    We took a big gamble and hired someone who didn’t have any reviews (that I could find) online. She had been shadowing a photographer that I absolutely loved but couldn’t afford-in the end, we paid $1700 for a full day of shooting and the best part was that the photographer that was too expensive for us stepped in as the second shooter. We got some amazing pictures.

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