As you begin your search for the best wedding photographer, follow these helpful tips to ensure you capture the day perfectly.

1. Hire a professional 
Even if a friend or a relative offers to tackle the task, even if they’re amazing behind the lens, and even if they’d agree to a pro-bono arrangement, you still should hire a professional photographer for your wedding-day photos. For one thing, you won’t have to worry about how to pay professionals since they’ll give you a set rate, unlike a friend or family member, who may feel cheated out of hard work in the end or pick an argument over appropriate compensation. For another, you won’t have to worry about directing a professional or instructing them on when to take pictures, unlike a friend or family member, who may take pictures at all the wrong times or slack off to enjoy the open bar. Anyone who’s ever used a camera can take a picture, but a professional photographer has a world of knowledge on the art of composition, the importance of lighting, shooting from the best angles, and how to develop, touch up, and finalize each individual picture to perfection. If the photographer is really top-notch, he or she may get booked up pretty far in advance, so you should try to hire one about six months to a year before your wedding day.

2. See for yourself 

Take a look at other married couples’ wedding photos and get their feedback on the photographer they hired. You’ll want to choose someone with solid references, but more often than not, the proof is in the pudding, or rather in the pictures. Look for someone with an extensive portfolio of portraits, active shots, and most importantly wedding photos.Even if a photographer is highly technically skilled in landscapes or still-life, that doesn’t mean they’re as adept in other forms of photography. It takes a keen eye to achieve the “look of love” when subjects aren’t posing, to capture an active moment in a single frame, and to tell a story without words or context. If you like what see, schedule an engagement photo shoot and see the results of their work first hand. Key in on your comfort level as you interact with the photographer during the shoot as well as the final results of their work.

3. Make a photo checklist
A professional wedding photographer should know when and where to take pictures to chronicle the timeline of your wedding day, but you may have some additional ideas, so make a checklist of all the moments you want captured and the names of all people to be included in the photos. Afterward, put all the photos that don’t make the mantel cut in a photo album. That way, you’ll be able to relive the entire day for the rest of your lives without forgetting a single detail.