First of all, before interviewing potential photographers, it's important to know the style that you want your wedding photography to be. There are SO many photographers out there these days, and they all specialize in different styles. The two basics are traditional vs. photo-journalism, but there are varying degrees within these two categories. Traditional style wedding photography is more of the posed, formal shots with bride, groom, and wedding party, using elegant and scenic backgrounds. Photographers who use a photo-journalistic style strive to "tell a story" with their photos, so they include more candid, unposed shots and usually take a lot more pictures. As I said, there is a lot of variety within these two basic styles. The best way to figure out what you want is to look at wedding photos! Check out the galleries on the Knot, Style Me Pretty, Project Wedding, etc. and save photos that you like. When you put these all together, you can start to see what style you want your wedding day photographed in.
Once you've pinpointed style, start interviewing photographers who say they specialize in this. Often, photographers bring assistants to weddings to take photos as well- then one photographer can take the posed shots while the other focuses on details and candid shots. This is a great way to get a mix of styles, if that's what you want. Ask if the photographer uses an assistant, and if it's included in the package or if you have to pay extra.
When looking at the packages a photographer offers, make sure you ask exactly what is included in them. Is there an hour limit for how long they'll be with you on the wedding day? Do you get any prints or a book included with the package price? Is an engagement session or bridal portrait session included in your package? Do you have personal usage rights* to the wedding photos? This last question is a big one!! Some photographers retain the rights to your photos, so that you receive 4x6 prints or low-quality jpegs on a disc and if you want more prints you have to purchase them through the photographer- or you can pay an extra fee to purchase your high resolution photos from the photographer. If you do so, then you can print your images whenever you want. Other photographers give you your photos as part of the original package. Make sure you understand whether or not you will be receiving a disc of your photos that you can print from or not.
The photos are the biggest thing you'll have left of your wedding day, make sure that you get what you want with your photographer! Any other suggestions on what to ask a photographer- let us know in the comments section!(photo credits 1,2,3)
*"Personal usage rights" is different than outright owning the copyright on your photos. Photographers usually don't sell the rights to their photos to any couple, because then this couple could profit off of the photos without giving any credit or compensation to the photographer. So instead, photographers protect their work, and offer couples personal usage rights, meaning they can have the high res photos to print and reprint for years to come, but cannot sell these images to anyone. Thank you to Lindsay DeDario, a photographer friend of mine here in Buffalo, NY, for further explaining the terminology to me!