I think there are 3 essential decisions. Firstly, do they love your photography. Secondly, is the budget there. Thirdly, and for me this is the really crucial one, do you like each other. You’ll be together for a long time on the day. Get the connection right and it’s all there to shoot. Get it wrong and you’re all in for a much tougher day.
It’s often lost in issues like “have you shot at this venue before” when that’s really not important. A good wedding photographer will suss a venue in a very short amount of time.
Clients need to really believe in a photographers work and not get caught up in wedding photography trends or the physical products offered, its the content thats important.
I think it’s most important to look at work that inspires you and find a photographer who you’d like to hang out with again after your wedding. If you like the photographs you see online but don’t like the person who took them, it isn’t going to work.
I think couples are are looking at the type of photography that you do. From there they will try to find out what it will cost to have you on their wedding. After that they will make an appointment to talk with you. First impression from the meeting is very important and the couple almost knows in the first few minutes if you are going to be their wedding photographer.
I really have no idea if they like to have packages or not. I have made my packages around what I want to earn. So for example, I do not want to charge for every hour I am at the wedding. I am there until dinner or until the end of the party.
Every bride and groom is unique. I think a couple needs to look at the portfolio first and foremost, but realistically the price is usually a huge factor. First narrow down price, then identify photographers within that price range and then sit down and look at their portfolios. Next they need to meet with those photographers! It’s important to make sure personalities mesh, because you’re going to be spending a huge part of one of the biggest days of your life with this person. Plus you’re entrusting them with some of the most precious photos you will ever have taken.
That said when looking at the differences between what photographers offer I think they should look to see if the price offered will cover their wedding photography (or if there is additional costs for running late etc.), whether they can get shorter coverage if they want it, and if they can get their photographs printed by the photographer. Albums can look fantastic but a lot of couples don’t think they want them from the outset. I don’t think it’s simply extra money for the photographer when buying an album but it gives you an analogue version of the day that is future-proofed against advances in technology.