We have several amateur photographers coming to the wedding as guests, and SIL Veggie is a professional photographer. We're trying to keep our budget as low as possible, and literally every cent we don't spend on the wedding goes straight to the non-profit organization we run.
Also, a brief confessional here: I am a photography snob. After looking at many wedding photography websites, I have come to the realization that the cheaper photographers don't do much better than I do when I go to weddings. If we are going to pay someone to take photos, we definitely want the photos to be great, not just ho-hum. So it seems like we are left with two choices:
Either spend quite a bit and get someone great.
Spend nothing and get what we get from our guests.
I looked at many many many photographers' websites and made a spreadsheet that classified them by price, package details, and how much I loved them (ranging from eh.. to LOVE!!). I was hoping that I would find someone that I was in love with that had reasonable prices. But the major problem was, I didn't really have a good idea what "reasonable" was to me. I think I was hoping that some magical photographer would surface that was willing to do our wedding for nearly free, just based on the fact that we were such a charming couple. Right.
I was torn. I asked my friends, I asked my family (including SIL photographer), I polled everyone I could think of. About 99% of the people I asked (again, including SIL photographer) said "Hire a photographer". Their reasons were well-rationalized and well-stated. But I still wasn't sure.
So I browsed more photography websites, asked more people, and finally sat down with Mr. Veg.
I verbalized the reasons why I thought it was important to have a photographer: I want nice pictures of our day, I don't want any of our guests to stress over taking great pictures, I don't want to regret not getting certain pics, and finally, I love good photography.
I verbalized the reasons why I thought we didn't need a photographer: saving money, our talented friends will get lots of good pics, and how many pics of our day do we need anyway?
He verbalized his concerns that photography would be the first of many splurges and that our budget would grow exponentially as our planning progressed. And then he said if it was really important to me, I should decide how much I was willing to spend on it, and what other things would get the ax.
We looked at our overall budget, and armed with my trusty spreadsheet we decided on a number that we felt was reasonable. I decided that I would contact all of the photographers in the LOVE!! category, tell them about us, tell them about what we were looking for, and ask if they could make something work within our budget. I set a firm number that I didn't want to go above. If no one could give us what we wanted within our budget, we would forgo photography (gasp!).
But guess, what? Someone could! Someone would! Someone will! We have a photographer! (Well actually a team of two photographers). And they are fantastic!! Oh, you want a sample of their work, well read on, or check out Miss Snow's engagement pictures. Yep, we have the same groovy photographers!
Above Photos by Oh Darling! Photography
I feel really good about this decision. At first I felt like I was wasting money and self-indulging. I felt really guilty for spending that much money on something Mr. Veg was ambivalent about. But now, I feel differently. I feel like I made a really thoughtful, not-impulsive decision over something I was really excited about and normally would have jumped right into. I feel like I've done a good job of researching options, prioritizing, and expressing myself to Mr. Veg. Am I justifying a costly decision? Maybe.