How One Bride Found Her Dream Wedding Photographer (Without Going Over Budget!)

What do real brides have to say about the wedding planning experience? Newlywed Courtney Kern is the owner of Events Beyond, a wedding and event design company. Engaged since 2007—yes, she's heard every Five Year Engagement joke—she knew exactly how her dream day would unfold, but that doesn't mean the process was always a cake walk.

Selecting a photographer for your wedding can be one of the most challenging decisions to make. As is the case when choosing any of your wedding vendors, from the officiant to the baker, you have to genuinely enjoy working with that person from the time you book right up until your wedding day. And when it comes to photographers, you're working with them long after "I do," assembling albums and ordering prints.

As a professional planner, I've enjoyed getting to know many talented photographers. When it came time to select one for our cocktail party-inspired New York City wedding, we had several amazing industry friends offer to shoot our big day. However, like many couples, we made the painful decision to stick to our budget. (For cost-conscious brides that simply must have a certain photographer, ask about hourly rates. A four- to six-hour package might fit the bill. Then decide if you would rather have the ceremony and some of the reception covered well by your first-choice photographer or have everything covered by a company you feel is so-so.)

Fortunately, industry knowledge and a little bit of luck helped my husband Ben and I find an excellent photographer that fit our budget. About a year and a half ago I was the event designer and coordinator for a friend's wedding. The couple was marrying in upstate New York, and though I generally provide clients with a list of recommended vendors, the groom decided to conduct his own search for a photographer. (The groom's father owns a photography business so this component of the wedding was extremely important to him.) Ultimately the couple selected Turnquist Photography based out of Hudson, New York. When we met with the owners Jesse and Rebecca, a lovely married couple, we appreciated their laid-back personality. On the wedding day they were professional and always in the right place for the best shots—even capturing fun details like the food, tablescapes, and the silliness going on in the photo booth. (You can see the wedding on Turnquist Photography's blog, here.) As soon as Ben and I locked down our own wedding venue, we booked Turnquist Photography.

Turnquist Photography was a great fit for us for several reasons. I grew up dancing so smiling and performing is no big deal for me, but my dear husband Ben wasn't quite ready for his closeup or his 15 minutes of fame. Thankfully Ben felt comfortable with the husband-and-wife team, which meant he was more relaxed while they were shooting our wedding. The Turnquists were also great at organizing group shots. (Believe it or not, not every photographer is a people person.) Finally, I knew they would capture every single detail that we worked so hard on. When we look back at our wedding in 10, 25, and 50 years, I want to remember our ceremony, what we wore, the food we ate, our drinks, the cake, the kind of flowers we used, and what it looked like when 60 of our closest friends and family got together and had a ball.

—Courtney Kern

Read more of Courtney's posts about her wedding plans and inspiration.

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