So, you’re newly engaged (YAY!!) and you decided it’s about time to sit down and start looking into actually choosing a wedding photographer for your Northern Michigan wedding day. You know – the person or people that will capture one of the most epic and fleeting days of your life (no pressure).
Then 34 minutes later – with approximately 49 tabs open in Google – you realize you have no idea how to know who “the one” is. Furthermore, you are no closer to finding them than when you opened your laptop with such hope and excitement less than an hour before. *Sets computer down, puts off finding a Northern Michigan wedding photographer until next weekend.*
Rob and I aren’t here to tell you how to choose your Northern Michigan wedding photographer based on their work.
(Although the fact that you’ve made it this far is a pretty good sign, right?)
Did you know the wedding photographer you choose is one of the biggest influences on how your day runs?
Your wedding photographer ensures the day runs on schedule – as the bride, you and your mom have far more important things to pay attention to than a clock.
Besides – you’ve never been married before, so how should you know how the day should run?
Your photographer’s personality must mesh with your family and bridal party. After all – we will be with you from the time you get your hair done until we end with sparklers or smoke bombs!
Anyway, once you’ve found a wedding photographer with images on their website that draw you in, and – even more importantly – you can picture yourself in them – here are some questions we recommend you ask!
Questions to ask a Northern Michigan wedding photographer before hiring them
1. What are some common problems you encounter during a wedding and how do you handle them?
While we never share personal or embarrassing information about a wedding couple and their family, let’s just say we have seen it all 😉 From the wedding ceremony starting an hour later than planned to divorced parents, we’ve run the gamut. We’re not afraid to be the “bad guys” (in the kindest way and always with a smile) if you don’t feel comfortable speaking up and over bossy moms or to let the planner know we need to move that gaudy car out of the background. It’s common for the entire family to be hugging us goodbye at the end of the night and thanking us for helping to make the wedding so fun!
2. Do I get the printing rights to my images?
Did you book your wedding with Enjoy the VU Photography? Then absolutely, they are your images! We want you to be able to print them wherever you want, print them as big as you want and display them all over your place. We also want you to have every last capture and not have to make cuts to which images you choose because you can’t afford to purchase rights to all of your images. So yes – you have the printing rights to your wedding photos, as it should be.
3. How many images will I receive?
It varies. An average 8 hour wedding includes at least 700 images and often more. Rob and I aren’t standing around waiting for just “the moment” to happen – instead, we’re capturing all of the moments as they occur. Speaking from experience (both as Northern Michigan wedding photographers and as a married couple), you’ll cherish different images and memories at different times in your marriage. That’s why we make sure to capture all of those micro moments that unfold during your wedding day for a full storytelling experience.
Editing & Turnaround
4. Will all of my images be edited?
Yes! We edit every image and provide your gallery as a collection of high-resolution JPG images ready for posting on social media, printing, and display both in an online gallery as well as backed up on a personal USB drive.
5. Do you use presets?
No, we do not. We edit every image individually while keeping our style consistent (timeless, bright and vibrant true to eye color). Some photographers use presets that manipulate colors to look a certain way (looking at you, that currently popular trend that leaves even the palest bridesmaid looking a little too close to an Oompa-Loompa). While this gives the photographer very consistent style where their images have all the same tones, we feel that it doesn’t speak to our mission as wedding photographers. Rob and I want to bring you back to the moments, to relive the memories – which means your flowers will be the color they were, the grass at your venue will be the color it was, the sky will look how it did – whether that’s a cloudy day or clear skies.
6. Do you outsource your editing?
As business has grown, we have started to outsource some of our editing. This is a bonus for you because it means you get your images back quicker! However, trust that we know your story and how the day felt and looked, and it’s our mission to honor that. Every gallery is reviewed in detail for consistency and accuracy before we upload and share the final images with you!
7. How many weddings do you work in a weekend?
Especially with everything that has happened in the last couple of years, we only schedule ourselves to work one wedding per weekend. Rob and I want to make sure we are fresh and rested to give your wedding day our all. (However, we also schedule midweek weddings if that’s your jam.)
8. How many hours of coverage do I get?
Here is where we really stand out! We are the only Northern Michigan wedding photographers that we know of who don’t cap your wedding day coverage. After seeing bride after bride realize 6-8 hours just wasn’t enough, juggling last minute to add on additional coverage to her wedding timeline, we made the decision to make a change to serve you better! Breathe easy, truly living in the moments of your wedding day knowing we’re there to capture it all – from the time you’re finishing up hair and makeup and stepping into your dress to the time you leave with sparklers or smoke bombs!
IF there is limited coverage with the photographer you choose, you’ll want to ask how much to add additional hours and what if that doesn’t cover all the events of the day? (Will you want to miss having part of pre-ceremony captured or reception?)
9. How long until we receive all of our wedding images?
Our contract states a 6-8 week turnaround on galleries. This gives us a little buffer room in case of unforeseen events. That being said, we’ve never taken longer than 4 weeks to deliver a wedding. We also aim to share a blog post featuring your wedding within two weeks of your wedding (giving you both a preview and something to share even before you get back from your honeymoon).
10. Are engagement sessions included with your collections?
An engagement session is included with most of our wedding collections. We truly believe an engagement session is necessary to truly connect with you and to help you feel comfortable in front of the camera before your big day. We feel it’s crucial to arrive at your wedding day as friends, not strangers. We’ll also share all of our top posing tricks and tips with you at your engagement session so you feel totally prepared. Your wedding day will be SO busy, juggling family, friends, your dress, and a bouquet – but that won’t phase you because you’ll already be a posing pro thanks to your engagement session!
Head to the blog here to see other engagement sessions and start getting ideas for yours!
11. How long until I receive my engagement session images?
Our contract states within three weeks – but generally it’s less than two. We know you can’t wait to share with your friends on social media or use them for save the dates. Speaking of which – are we Instagram friends yet?
12. Do I receive anything with my engagement session images?
Some of our collections include a 16×20 gallery wrap to be displayed at the wedding and in your home after! This is a great way to start decorating your home – you can mix these images in along with your wedding pictures for variety and color.
Printing Your Images
13. Do I receive an album?
Rob and I believe every couple should have a quality album to share with family and friends. (Not a cheap Shutterfly book that will fall apart within the year.) All of our collections include a starter wedding album! Our albums are handmade in Europe. We’ll work with you to create the album exactly as you want.
Does that feel overwhelming? Don’t worry! We’ll create a sample design with spreads for you to review, delivered at the same time as your wedding gallery! You can take it from there – from swapping pictures to adding new spreads to really highlight your favorite images. In addition, choose from a wide variety of colors and materials for your album – from glossy acrylic photo covers to textured linen to smooth velvet.
Again, we believe in print and we want your wedding photos living somewhere other than a computer. According to statistics, we are generally forgotten in three generations. That is heartbreaking!! We want your images to live on and your album to be passed through the generations as a family heirloom. You can check out our gorgeous hand-crafted albums here and see why we are so crazy about print.
14. Do my guests have the ability to purchase prints?
Yes, very easily! They can order professional lab quality prints from your online gallery. Visitors get 15% off their order in the first 30 days of the gallery opening.
15. Is there an online gallery?
Most definitely! While we’re always going to emphasize the importance of print, we know in this digital age everyone wants to view and share their images quickly. That’s why we provide an easy to navigate online gallery with all of the images from your day. Your images will be available for at least 12 months – no high pressure sales here!
16. Do you offer wall art?
Definitely! We work with the top professional photography print lab in the country. We’re proud to offer a variety of wall art options including metal prints, canvas gallery wraps, fine art framed/matted prints, etc. (If that list feels a little overwhelming to decide what is best for you, ask to see our studio samples – we LOVE to share!) We even have software that allows us to help you determine how best to decorate your space by testing different images, sizes, and frames virtually. (Without putting a single nail in your wall.)
17. Do you have backup gear? What if something breaks during our wedding day?
Yes, we have backup gear including additional cameras, a multitude of SD cards, a wide variety of lenses, and backup flash equipment. Our cameras also have dual card slots. This ensures even if a card went corrupt during the day (although this has never happened) your day is being recorded on a second card at the same time to ensure you don’t lose any images.
18. Do you use additional off camera lighting equipment?
We LOVE when couples are game to take a short break from the reception to get fun nighttime portraits! We use Godox equipment exclusively, which is well-known in the photography community for its beautiful light and consistency. We’ve used other brands, but found they had a tendency to glitch and stop communicating with each other. While fortunately we never had anything fail at a crucial moment, that was the end for us. There’s nothing worse than standing around, shivering, while you wait for your photographer to fiddle with lights and switches – talk about a mood killer!
Fun creative portraits aside – know there are downfalls to hiring a photographer that is an exclusively “natural light” photographer. While we love natural light and utilize it to its fullest potential all we can, the truth is not everyone gets ready in a glam bridal suite with a full wall of windows overlooking the city. With the variety of locations throughout the course of a wedding day and the lighting situations that come with that, lighting with only what is coming through the windows isn’t always the best option. Having additional lighting equipment for dark situations can be a huge lifesaver! Even with having professional gear, it’s sometimes difficult for cameras to find focus in a dark room. This could result in a lot of out of focus photographs – i.e. ones not up to our high standards of quality. (Because let’s face it – even on Instagram we could tell that picture Aunt Sue posted was more than a little blurry.)
Finally, having off camera lighting allows us to capture all of the colors of a sunset while still having you two exposed properly. Without our equipment, the alternative would be to “blow out” the sky, losing almost all of that amazing sunset.
19. Do you do night shots with off camera lighting?
We like to do at least one night photograph at every single wedding, reserved for sneaking away during open dance. It not only makes for some really fun and unique images but it’s a great opportunity to decompress for a few minutes and have a moment together to soak in the day’s events. It also allows us to capture you two at different points of the day when the mood has shifted, which really helps tell your story even more.
20. How do you handle family formals?
We know everyone wants to get to cocktail hour and we want more time with the two of you for portraits, so our goal is to have all family photos as well as bridal party finished in 30 minutes or less. We have a system that helps us accomplish this dreaded but necessary part of the day as quickly as possible. Read about it here!
21. Do you use a shot list for the day?
We do ask you for the “must have” shots of the day on your pre-wedding questionnaire. This helps us to be alert to those little details we may not otherwise know. For instance: a family member arriving from out of the country, a hidden detail sewn into your wedding dress, or plans for a certain time during the reception. Otherwise, trust we are going to get all of the obvious ones (i.e. coming down the aisle, first kiss, first dance, etc.)
Rob and I DO NOT work off of a list during the wedding day. Every wedding is unique and every love story deserves to be told exactly how it happened. No list can predict exactly what “moments” will be. Rob and I prefer to get to know the two of you, to understand what you picture your wedding day to be like and what is most important to you, and then use that information to influence the photographic choices we make throughout the day.
22. Can I see some full galleries?
Of course! It is SO important to see examples of some full galleries to have insight into what you will receive. Remember that every photographer uses Instagram as a highlight reel and works hard to feature the Best of the Best images from their career on their website. Requesting to see a full gallery allows you to visualize how the story of the day is told. You’ll also be able to see just how easy our galleries are to navigate and find specific moments from throughout the wedding day!
23. Do you back up the images, and for how long?
Every image from your wedding day is uploaded to an online gallery and is available for one year after your wedding. For a small additional cost (simply because we have to pay for the online storage yearly), you can add up to five years longer of online storage. We also back up your images two different ways on our end in addition to providing you a USB drive with all of your wedding images for safe storage.
24. Do you help with wedding day timeline construction?
Yes, we work with you early on to develop a timeline for your wedding day. Some wedding photographers wait to discuss the timeline with clients until the week before the wedding. This makes us cringe because at that point it’s often too late to coordinate fully with the other vendors if you realize you need to adjust any part of your day! Instead, we discuss your timeline with you during our consultation call before you even book. As photographers, we know when the best lighting is for any given location and can advise you on this. We will also reach out the month before to finalize and answer questions to make sure your day goes off exactly as you hope it will.
Making Things Official
25. How much of a retainer do you require at booking?
After a brief connection call over Zoom, Facetime, or in person to get to know you both and make sure we are the best fit for you, we’ll send over your proposal. You’ll be able to select the best collection for your needs, pay your contract, and pay your retainer ($500). Please complete this proposal within 7 days to secure your date. Any remaining balance is due 30 days before your wedding date.
26. Do you offer payment plans?
Yes, we know most couples aren’t going to pay the full amount in one week. After your booking is official we’ll create a custom wedding portal just for you. This portal contains copies of important forms, your wedding questionnaire, and a record of our communication. Additionally, the portal allows you to make payments for any amount whenever you wish before that 30-day out due date.
27. Can I pay with a credit card?
Yes, we actually encourage you to! Here’s a little trick – get a new credit card just for the wedding. Most cards offer an initial bonus (i.e. if you spend X amount in the first 90 days you will receive XX,000 bonus miles). If you’re hesitant about using a credit card, there are a number of cards available that include 0% interest (check out Chase Freedom)! Use this for all your wedding expenses and use those miles towards your honeymoon!