So you've narrowed down your choice of photographers down from thousands of potential candidates to just a handful. Their images are stunning, the prices seem right and they're available on your date.
Like online dating everything that seems perfect on paper might not work quite as well as you hoped in real life. After all this is a person who is going to swing into your life on your special day and be right there the whole time, so it helps if you can feel comfortable with them. And like online dating the next step is to get together and talk about your wedding, yourselves and your potential photographer.
You pick a time, you pick a place and cross your fingers that it works out and you can put the awkward meetings with virtual strangers behind you for good.
So what do you talk about? You don't want to just learn about what they do and how they do it, you want to get a feel of who they are and how relaxed you can be together.
For clients there are a lot of questions to ask about what's going to happen, and they can be gleaned from bridal magazines [realsimple.com] and Web sites [ivillage.com] and even friends that have had good, bad or just indifferent experiences with photographers over the years. (Incidentally many of my answers to these questions can be found on my FAQ).
The process isn't one way however.
Your photographer is going to have a lot of questions for you, most of which should be easy to answer if you've been immersed in your wedding planning long enough. Some are perhaps a little tougher, but they're all part of the process of making sure the fit is right.
Here's a little of what you can expect:
1. Tell me about your wedding.
It's a broad question, but it's why you're all sitting at a table together. For me this question is about understanding a bride and groom's vision of their wedding and why they have made the decisions about the venue, colors and decorations they have so I can get a better ideao of what they want from their photos.
For example, if a couple talks effusively for five minutes about how they picked teh flower arrangements and paid extra for pink orchids then you can bet they want to see some great shots of the flowers.
2. Tell me about yourselves.
It's not just how you came together as a couple and decided on getting married, but a general sense of who you are as individuals. Outgoing and adventurous people are often more amenable to dramatic and exciting posing for formal portraits, whereaws a more low-key couple might not enjoy that.
3. What interested you about my work?
No photographer wants to be chosen on price and since your photos will be with you for a lifetime, price is the last criteria you should use. Part of this question is fishing for compliments but another is helping the photographer understand what you're looking for more than any shot list. If you fell in love with dramatic black and white work or detail shots tell your photographer.
4. What are your must have shots?
A fairly straightforward question that should start off what will ultimately become your wedding shot list. It also ensures that you don't miss anything that might be special or significant (like Aunt Mildred, or getting a photo of the couple and the college roommate that brought them together).
There are of course hundreds of other potential questions, but try to relax and not worry that much since there are really no wrong answers. Sure it might not work out, you might decide to go with another photographer or you might find someone to capture your wedding and your 25th anniversary. That's why you're meeting ahead of time, to make sure you'll get great photos and a lifetime of good memories.