You've found the perfect wedding photographer. You love his style, and the images you've seen on his website fit perfectly with your vision -- all the beauty of your venue, artistic shots of the two of you that look like something out of a magazine, close-up photos of the food, shots of all of the action and interactions with your loved ones.
Don't expect everything to go perfectly on your wedding day, however. There are some important questions to ask your photographer to ensure you get the kinds of shots you want:
--What are some of your favorite settings of my wedding venue? You may have hired your photographer in part because he has worked at your wedding venue before, but now it's time to talk details: the gardens, the fountains, side rooms with great architectural aspects. This is where you start mapping out the perfect setting for your all-important first look photos, and you can use your photographer's experience at the site (including knowing about the lighting during sunset and more).
--How will you and your assistant be dressed? This is where your photographer needs input from you, to learn about your chosen dress code. Your photographer will be interacting with your guests, and it's best if he's in a fine suit or tuxedo to blend in while working.
--Do you have any meal requests or dietary restrictions? Not many wedding couples ask this question, and it's an important one. If your photographer is given just the usual vendor meal (often a chicken and vegetables dish, not the same entree that your guests get,) and can't eat it, his energy level may drop and he may not perform up to par in the later hours of the wedding. Always ask this question, and consider giving your vendors a guest-type meal if you've had any last-minute wedding guest cancellations.
--What do you need from me? If you'd like to display a slideshow of your childhood photos or engagement photos at the wedding, find out which format the photographer needs -- images on a disk, images emailed in a particular size and resolution, the format for the soundtrack, etc.
--Are you OK with other people taking photos? This is a rather new consideration, as a great many wedding photographers dislike losing an important shot (like your first kiss) when guests stand up with their iPads and other devices. It's smart to ask your photographer what he prefers and when to make an announcement to guests at the ceremony, asking them not to use their phones and iPads to take photos at the ceremony.
--What time will you arrive at our pre-wedding locations to capture photos of the ladies and the men? You might assume it would take an hour, but it may actually take several hours, so you need to adjust your getting-ready time to match up with your photographer's arrival.
--If my event lasts longer than expected, will you be able to stay? Some photographers book two, or even three, weddings on a peak wedding season day, so you need to know if he'll have to rush out at the planned end time for your wedding to get to the next one. Important: He might not have other bookings yet, so ask him to let you know if he does book a next wedding on your big day.
--Which kinds of filters will you be using on our wedding day? This is a new question for wedding photographers, since there are many new types of filters in existence. Some may blur the edges of your photos or turn candlelight and strung lights into little heart shapes. Ask to see examples of different filter effects, so that you can list out the ones you like.
--When will our photos be ready? You likely asked this before hiring your photographer, but it's a good idea to get a reminder of how many weeks or months it will take before all of your photos are edited and posted onto an online gallery. This will reduce the number of stressful phone calls to your photographer later.
--Do you have any questions for me? Your photographer wants to make you happy, so he may ask if you like more candid photos, or more posed ones, and which types of photos you definitely don't want. This is a relationship you're forming, and two-way communication always works to your advantage.
Sharon Naylor is the author of "The Bride's Guide to Freebies" and three dozen additional wedding books.