The wedding photographer is one of the most important parts of your wedding day. If you are going to splurge on one thing for your wedding it should be the photographer!
Anyone that has been married will tell you that the wedding day flies by so fast. Within a few weeks you tend to forget much of what happened that day. This is why you need a good photographer. The only thing you will have to remember your big day is the pictures. Plus, the photographer will capture moments you didn't even see!
With the economy the way it is many people are trying to cut costs while planning their wedding. I've found quite a few brides who have decided to have a family member or a friend act as the photographer. 99% of the time after they receive the pictures they end up disappointed. The pictures turn out blurry or with red-eye. And many of the pictures are not even usable. They now have few or no pictures to remember their wedding day.
A professional photographer knows how to use the light in the ceremony and reception sites to get the best pictures possible. They also normally have much nicer, more professional equipment than your relative with the point and click camera.
I also find some couples just looking for the least expensive photographer. Wedding photography isn't just a cost...it's an investment. Can you really put a price on pictures that will give you a lifetime of memories? You may spend several thousand dollars on a wedding photographer, but remember that you will always have these images to remember the day by.
When looking for a photographer you will want to determine what style you are looking for. Are you looking for more posed and traditional or are you looking for someone who will take more candids? You also want to make sure that your personalities click with the photographer. Make sure that he or she listens to what you want. He or she will be with you your entire wedding day so you want someone who you are comfortable with. It's also good to do an engagement session (some call it a "Get to Know You" session) before your wedding day. This will give you some time to see your photographers style and he or she will also be able to see your style and find out what you are looking for.
Ask the photographers you meet with if you can view an entire wedding. Often photographers will show you one or two pictures from several different weddings. With this of course they are going to choose the best from each wedding. So check out a whole wedding to see how all the pictures look.
If you meet with a larger photography studio that has several photographers, make sure the person you are meeting with and like is the actual photographer.
Some photographers use a "second shooter". This is nice because you will then have two photographers to make sure all the special moments are captured.
Even though you may find many of the best photographers are the priciest, this is not to say that all pricey photographers are the best, or vice verse...that a low cost photographer will not do quality work. One way to find a good photographer is word of mouth. Ask all of your friends who have been married who they used and if they were happy. Ask if you can see their wedding albums so you can get an idea of their style. This will help you weed out some bad ones as well as help you find some good ones.
One final tip - book your photographer early. They are usually the first thing to get booked!