Contact your local colleges' Audio/Visual department and see if you can send an email to the group (a secretary will usually send it for you) of students in the photography program about photographing your wedding!
Usually the fees will be at least half of what a "professional" photographer will charge, and a lot of the students have experience shooting weddings and can show you their work!
By Eileen from Washington, DC
Most "professional" photographers will work within any budget. I am a photographer who has done numerous weddings (although I do consider myself a portrait photographer first and foremost) and the one thing I suggest to couples on a budget is to see if you can just purchase the negatives or digital images (I would have them edited by the photographer though unless you feel confident with computer editing programs). Then you can print the images you treasure most and when you want to and can afford the expense and effort you can put together your albums any way you see fit. Then you just pay for the photographer's time and equipment. My only warning is that for each negative or image you purchase, the copywrite is owned (for 50-100 years depending on where you live) by the photographer who took the photo and you'll want some sort of proof in writing that you have their permission to print or copy that image.
If you don't want to go though the trouble of ordering your own prints and putting your own books together (which is part of the reason that you'd hire a professional!) talk with your photographer ... many offer services on an "ala carte" basis so you can pick and choice what you want taken .. perhaps have the ceremony shot by the pro but have a family friend or place disposable cameras on tables for the reception. Any decent photographer will take time to sit with you, discuss what you want and what's possible within the budget you have set aside for the photography of your day. Just remember this .. it is YOUR day and you should feel pressured into anything but the images captured will last forever and while I agree that some wedding photographers are overpriced for the most part you do get what you pay for .. Not that students aren't as qualified but may lack the experience and knowledge to be able to capture all the shots you want!
Good Luck and Congratulations to all the brides, grooms and family out there! If it all gets to be too much ... elope! My hubby and I did after months of insane conversations about the color of table linens and attendants gifts!
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