Congratulations! You found the perfect partner. Someone who gets you. That special person who will be at your side for life. It took you a long time to find The One, and when you met them, you just… knew.

There’s more good news: after all that, you’ve finally gained enough relationship experience to find the right wedding photographer.

You’ve probably heard that professional wedding photographers need more than a stunning portfolio to be successful, and that–because they’ll spend more time with you on your wedding day than any other vendor–they’ve got to have the right personality. So how do you pick your fave, and not regret it on your big day?

Here’s what to look for as you swipe through their online portfolios, interact with them in person or online, and decide they’re the one-and-only… or two and only, should you opt for multiple shooters!

They’ve got it together.

Don’t rely on pretty pictures and a charming personality if your photographer can’t back them up by demonstrating reliability and professionalism. Ask for references, request a preview of their contract, and have a clear understanding of what’s included in their packages early on in the vetting process–before they’ve otherwise stolen your heart!

Put together a list of questions, and evaluate their responses. Professionals expect their clients to put their feet to the fire, and they should put you at ease not only with their answers but by encouraging you to ask.

Their artistic approach matches your aesthetic.

Take a close look at the images. Do you love the poses and composition? Do you recognize your personal style reflected in the couples and decor? Does the photographer enhance the setting with their use of natural or artificial light? Professionals can easily adapt to every setting and event’s “personality”, but you’re more likely to get the best outcome if your photographer’s samples resonate with your own vision.

You feel like old friends.

If you have a lot of “I know, right?” moments when you’re chatting up your top wedding photographer picks, and you can picture yourselves hanging out with them at your favourite wine bar, you and your guests will feel comfortable around them (and in front of the lens) at your wedding. Get to know the person behind the portfolio!

They’re great communicators.

They listen, offer constructive advice, and share their expertise in a manner that gives you confidence in their skills and experience. These days, most photographers interact with their customers online or by phone, but they should be willing to meet with you in person if you live in the same town.

They’re not “fair-weather” photographers.

You can’t possibly pick a partner after a few well-planned dates. How do they handle themselves for the rest of the time? Likewise, some wedding photographers will cherry-pick the best photos from an event–and from hundreds of images, that’s not hard to do–but true professionals will show you entire wedding stories, from the getting ready stage to the couple’s great escape at the end of the reception.

An experienced wedding photographer might actually save your day by working the magic and turn a near-disaster situation around and achieve an amazing outcome.

They won’t leave you at the altar.

Always ask your candidates if they have backup equipment and a contingency plan in the unlikely case an emergency prevents them from attending your wedding. Photographers with a solid professional network can usually send a compatible substitute if they can’t make it.

They’re with you until the end.

Don’t risk being ghosted by your wedding photographer! Find out when you can expect to view your edited wedding photos, whether you get to keep the digital files, and how you and your guests can order prints and albums.

Never, ever settle when choosing your wedding photographer!

It’s not easy to be objective when you’re evaluating creative professionals, but do your best to take in the “big picture”–pun possibly intended. Shop around and make sure you feel as confident in your choice as you do in your partner. Your perfect match won’t leave you with any doubts!