You got engaged, had a celebration, and are now ready to start planning your wedding. Wedding photography is super important to you. So, you start to ask yourself, “Is it took soon to book a wedding photographer?” The short answer is “Nope! It is never to early!” Once you have secured your wedding date, you can book your photographer. But let’s dig down a little deeper into when you should book your wedding photographer.
Traditional Timeline: 9 – 18 Months Before The Wedding
In a traditional wedding planning timeline of 12 months, your photographer is one of the first vendors you should book. (Right after your venue.) Many professional photographers book popular wedding dates anywhere from 9 – 18 months in advance.
- 18 months – There is always a few weekends in each wedding season that are absolutely bananas with weddings. It is not uncommon for a photographer to photograph 3 weddings in that weekend. (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!) These wedding weekends as well as any unique dates that land on a weekend (think 11/11 or 5/4 for you Star Wars nerds) will start to be booked closer to 18 months in advance.
- 12 months – If you are having a wedding during the busy season for your area, 12 months in advance is when you should book your wedding photographer. For Arizona this is the end of February – mid April and October – November. For other parts of the country this is usually May – July.
- 9 months – If your wedding is on a Friday or Sunday, it is totally reasonable to wait until 9 months before the wedding to book your photographer. But if it is during the busy season for your area, I wouldn’t suggest waiting any longer than that. You may start to have a hard time finding professional photographers that are still available on your date.
Short Engagement: 6 months or less
If you are planning a wedding in under 6 months, you should start to look at photographers ASAP. But have no fear, many popular photographers will still have dates open in their wedding season 6 months before the wedding. Don’t be discouraged if you receive responses from multiple photographers that they are booked on your date. There are still amazing photographers out there that are available on your date! I promise.
Alternative Weddings: Elopements, Weekday Weddings, and Off-Season Weddings
These types of weddings play by their own rules when it comes to photographer availability and when you should book. You can usually book you wedding photographer closer to the wedding date for these types of weddings, but I wouldn’t wait too long.
- Elopements – If you are having a weekend elopement, many photographers have a rule on the earliest they will book them. This is more common during the busy wedding seasons. But, the photographer may only book elopements 3 months before the wedding day. This is in place so they do not lose out on the opportunity to photograph a full wedding on popular dates.
- Weekday Weddings – Fridays are still a popular day for weddings. It has a lot of the benefits of both weekend and weekday weddings. So, these can book up as quickly as some weekend weddings. Especially for those randomly popular wedding weekends every season. However, if you are getting married Monday – Thursday, there is a good chance a lot of photographers are still available. I would still suggest booking at least 3 – 6 months in advance, because the weekdays is when we like to squeeze in our vacations!
- Off-Season Weddings – If you are getting married during the off-season, you can usually book a photographer closer to your wedding date. For the valley in Arizona, the off season is June and July. Weddings are few and far between during these months, so many photographers will still be available. I again suggest booking at least 3 – 6 months in advance, because the off-season is a popular vacation time for wedding photographers.
In short, you should book your wedding photographer after you book your venue to be on the safe side (ideally 12 months before the wedding). Unless you are eloping, then you may have to wait until a few months before your wedding date. If you are having a weekday or off season wedding, you can wait a little longer, but I suggest no shorter than 3 – 6 months. And if all else fails, still have hope that your wedding photographer is out there. I have booked a wedding 6 weeks in advance. While I typically do not suggest this, it is possible to still book a photographer super close to your wedding date!