First and foremost, it is so important to always remind yourselves that this is YOUR wedding day. This day is all about celebrating your love for each other with the most important people in your lives. It is not an act, it is not a set up, you are not on stage and your wedding photos need to reflect that (and your personalities!).
I swear I am not being bias, just honest.
Choosing a photographer (and/ or videographer) for your wedding is up there with the most important things you need to prioritise for your wedding. Why? Because they are the people who will be helping to create, store and remind you of your big day (forever!). You should see it as an investment. In 10, 20 or 50 years time you want to be able to open your wedding album and be able to re-live your day again and again, no matter how many times you look at it.
However, wedding albums aren't the most important thing. The photos are. Like most people you're probably going to be looking for the best deal, with the best package, and in most scenarios in life I am totally for that. I love a bargain! Yes, you will find packages for similar prices stuffed with albums and prints, but don't get distracted. What will matter in 10+ years is what the photos look like, not that you saved a couple of quid and got a second album free. Make the photographs a priority in your budget. A poor collection of photographs will always be a poor collection of photographs. Having your wedding photographed in the best possible way should be your priority.
"The photographer should of captured a wedding at your venue before" is not always the best way to start your search. In actual fact it can be a disadvantage if a photographer has captured lots of weddings at the same venue. Do you really want the exact same images they have captured a hundred times before? If you do, then great. Or would you rather it be someone who has a fresh approach, excited to offer you something unique?
You must hire a professional. Someone with lots of experience in dealing with different scenarios, weather and venues. A professional will also have insurance and back-up equipment... make sure you ask about it. A professional will even have back up if they are poorly on the day of your wedding. An inexperienced photographer will make the most beautiful venues look distinctively average.
You must feel comfortable. A good photographer will know when to give you some space, when to step in and help with the button holes, make you feel confident in front of the camera and most importantly appreciate that you have a 'good side'. They are with you all day so you need to feel comfortable around them.
A schedule. A good schedule will leave you with time to be able to actually speak to your guests. Weddings are not photoshoots. They are there to be enjoyed with your friends and family. A good photographer will know how to get a good balance between whisking you both away for some shots and being 'invisible'.
When the cake has been eaten, the outfits have been sent to the dry cleaners, the DIY favours that took you months to make are now stained with wine... you need to be able to remember your wedding day in the best possible way, forever.