Either let a friend or relative shoot your wedding, or a hire a recommended professional shooter. There are pros and cons to either choice, plus some important points you may not thought of yet:


  • Free or cheap
  • Friend gets a favor: he can give this as his wedding gift
  • Almost unlimited for time shooting whenever
  • If you like, you probably can micro-manage a friend
  • Comfortable with very personal photos; it’s a familiar face and energy
  • Usually takes your suggestions for poses
  • May get clever “inside” shots from being in-the-know with your group’s politics
  • Some have experience as wedding photographer and associated challenges
  • Photographer might party with you
  • Favoritism – might get your photos delivered sooner because you’re friends


  • May expect to be compensated elsewhere (i.e. big tip, free drinks, barter, use your images in his ads)
  • You are kind-of “the boss” but not really—because you are friends first
  • May need micro-managing if inexperienced
  • May resist micro-managing by stopping shooting, or arguing, sulking or feeling insulted
  • Expections for his goasl are loose—may miss important shots
  • Chatting and distracted by other guests—may miss important shots
  • If you don’t like his behavior and say something, you risk hurt feelings, arguing or embarrassment
  • Can refuse your suggestions for poses
  • Can take embarrassing pics or may tell confidential/private things to other loved ones
  • If friend gets sick, injured, too drunk/high, has travel problems at the last minute–good replacement is limited
  • May not handle challenges (i.e. bad weather, rain, poor lighting, embarrassing guests, dead batteries, hairdo and make-up failures, meltdowns, etc.)
  • May not know how to help people relax and be comfortable—feels awkward, add stress, wastes time
  • May not know how to pose people to look their best
  • Without good recommendations and seeing samples, you risk your photos being unsatisfactory.
  • If you don’t like his photos and say so, you risk hurt feelings
  • If you don’t like his photos and say nothing, you risk having no great wedding photos
  • May not have truly high-tech equipment or editing skills to either take pics, or re-edit photos you don’t like
  • If someone breaks his equipment or gets injured during shoots (tripping/falling), or he damages property (drops the borrowed & blue bracelet down a drain), you may need to pay for the camera, the doctor visit, or the property lost
  • Because this was a free/cheap project, other paying projects may get priority over finishing your pics (Scroll down past next photo for rest of this blog)



  • You pay money upfront
  • May not feel like a familiar energy behind the camera at first, takes a few minutes to settle in
  • Usually not open to being micro-managed
  • Photographer will not party on the job
  • Might not handle challenges the way you think she should (good recommendations avoid this)
  • Without good recommendations and seeing samples, you risk your photo results being unsatisfactory.
  • Unless you’ve hired her before, you have to trust other people’s recommendations


  • You choose when the shooting starts and stops
  • She is your employee and you are THE boss.
  • If you don’t want to micro-manage others on your wedding day, you don’t have to
  • She always helps people to relax, be comfortable, happy and genuine for photos
  • No embarrassing shots; stays confidential about what she saw or heard in private
  • Always takes your suggestions for poses
  • Photographer will NOT party on the job; stays sober, alert and focused
  • If she is sick, injured or will miss wedding, she sends a good, professional, replacement shooter
  • May get clever, shareable shots from being unlimited by your group’s politics; outside observer’s eye
  • Knows how to pose people to look their best
  • Has professional high-tech equipment and editing tools and skills
  • Experienced handling challenges (i.e. rude guests or meltdowns, weather issues, dead batteries, hairdo and make-up failures, etc.)
  • If you don’t like how she behaves, you (the boss) can ask for a change immediately without hurt feelings
  • You will definitely get some great photos
  • If you don’t like photos, she can re-edit them differently, offer another photo session, offer compensation, or even partial refund–without hurt feelings (good recommendations avoid this)
  • Has insurance coverage if someone damages her equipment, or she damages property (backs into a fragile vase), or a guest gets injured (grandpa hurts his back doing a high-5), you don’t pay for it.
  • May get your photos sooner because you’re a paying customer

~ Author, Rev. Margo Ross Sears, is an award-winning and popular professional photographer (click here to see her work and fees)  and former English professor from a long line of professional shooters and teachers in her family. She co-owns and operates the award-winning BeachPeopleWeddings.com with her husband and musician, Rev. David Sears.