When Should I Book my Photographer?

September 8, 2011

I get this question a lot (for obvious reasons). And what I generally have to tell people is, “It depends.” A big factor in this is who you’re booking – how busy are they, how far out do their clients usually book, etc. So here comes the disclaimer: I can’t speak for other vendors, I can only tell you my experience on the matter.

The best advice that I can give you is to book as soon as you’re sure. If you find a photographer that you love, whose prices fit your budget, and who has your date open… well, what are you waiting for? Your best bet with any vendor is to start looking as soon as you’ve picked a date, but realistically, that doesn’t always happen.

Some of us are procrastinators, and things get in the way of our planning. Things like work, and holidays, and Project Runway marathons. Or maybe you’re just not into a long engagement (I fell into this camp – we were engaged in October, and married in May).

So how long can I put this off?
Probably the biggest factor is your wedding date. Certain months, even certain days, are more popular than others. I tend to book most of my weddings between May and October (which is why I offer off-season pricing for the rest of the year). June and October tend to be especially popular.

What does that mean for me?
If you’re getting married in July, you may need to book a little further out than if you were getting married in February. But, again, my “if you love them, book them now” rule still applies. You’re essentially playing the odds that someone else will want to book the same photographer for the same date as you. It’s the same odds game you’re playing with venues, florists, DJs, and anyone else you’re hiring for the day.

Right, so how long?
There are a lot of factors to consider, and differences in trends from year to year. I’ll give you guys some numbers, and you can draw your own conclusions. Sound fair?

Of my 2010 couples, most booked 3-6 months out from their wedding date. Those that booked more than a year out made up the second highest group.

For 2009 & 2011 weddings, most booked between 7 and 12 months out from their wedding date, with a much smaller number cutting it closer than 6 months. Again, the second highest group booked more than a year out.

As for 2012, 100% of my couples have booked between 7 and 12 months out, largely due to a lack of time traveling ability.

The shortest time I’ve had between a booking and a wedding was 1 month, and the longest was 2 years. Again, every vendor’s numbers are different. As they say on the interwebs, your mileage may vary.

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