By ALEXANDRA MATZKO

Flowers die, the cake gets eaten, and it’s frowned upon, though totally bold, to wear that wedding dress out again.

So invest in the things for your wedding that will last forever. Your actual relationship, of course, and the photography and videography.

After finding the venue, I knew these two aspects of the wedding were priorities for me. Prices go up from $2,000, but like I said, this is something that will last forever.

Wedding Wire is an awesome site for reviews of wedding vendors in your area. Also, The Pink Bride is local to Tennessee and makes searching for vendors in your area easy and painless. And don’t forget word of mouth. Hit up your recently married friends for the hook up. There is nothing better than a personal recommendation.

Got some photographer and videographer names? Time to research. First, your photographer and videographer should have a website, a Facebook page, an Instagram, or all three. This is where you’ll uncover their portfolios. You want to get a feel for the style of these artists.

You should look at wedding photos on Pinterest, The Pink Bride, and Ashley’s Bride Guide to figure out what style of photography and videography best suits you. Do you want a candid, authentic reflection of the day? Do you like everything to be styled and planned? These are key preferences to figure out before deciding on videography and photography.

Good photography can last for generations.

Good photography can last for generations.

Next, get a list of questions. Now, I was clueless as to pertinent photography and videography questions, so this was again where the Internet swooped in to save the day. The Knot has awesome resources with printable question lists. We brought these along to all of our interviews. Here’s a taste of some of the most important and unexpected questions for your photographer:

  1. What’s your style?
  2. Will the photos be retouched or color balance? Is that done before I see proofs?
  3. How many hours of coverage do you get?
  4. Will you be my actual photographer on the day or will it be one of your associates?

See, these are some pretty important of questions. They’re questions that I definitely would have ignorantly omitted beforehand. Then, it’s time to set up some interviews. It’s tedious, but it’s worth it to meet with the people covering your day. We scheduled all of our meetings on the same day with a 30 minute buffer between each. The main things we needed to suss out were price of packages, style, and hours of availability. I had no idea photographers bill by the hour, but it makes sense in hindsight. Some, however, will give themselves over to you for the day. That’s a big plus if you can find it.

Another thing of note: engagement photos are part of most photography packages. I balked at this at first, finding engagement photos a tad sappy, but the justification won me over. Being the star of a huge photo shoot on one of the most eventful days of your life can be stressful. We aren’t trained models and posing for pictures isn’t natural. The engagement photo session serves as a dress rehearsal and chance to find your groove in front of the camera and with your photographer. Ours is scheduled for sunrise in the near future. Finally, who we met and who we chose.

Alex Derry Photography – Alex’s photos spoke to me immediately. They captured the essence of a couple’s day. The lighting is gorgeous, the people look great, and nothing looks overly posed or manipulated. His style is candid and natural. He tells a story through his pictures. And, compared to other photographers of his quality, he comes at a good price. Alex Derry’s packages start at $2,000 with at least 300 photographs to choose from. You receive digital copies, you have copyright, and he does retouch.

Nyk + Cali – this married couple is the talk of the town for wedding photography. Their style is very similar to Alex’s; they just come at double the price. Also, they are so hard to book! Nyk and Cali have hired a team of associates to meet demand, so it’s more likely you’ll work with one of them, which sort of defeats the purpose of booking Nyk and Cali. Nyk + Cali packages range from $4,500-6,000 if photographed by the actual Nyk and Cali. Their associates are much easier on the wallet, starting in the upper $2,000 range. They’re definitely still worth checking out.

When it came to videography, our DJ gave us the connection. We followed the same steps as we did with a photographer: meet, interview, and compare prices. Now, I’ve mentioned before that I’m no wedding dreamer, but I love wedding videos. I’ve watched a lot. So, I had high expectations.

Our DJ sent us a video from a wedding he worked filmed by That’s Classic Media. Now, this company may be familiar to you. Remember that viral “Welcome to Nashville” video? They made it and starred in it! Needless to say, they’re super talented at what they do, and their wedding videos are amazing: the music, the quality, and the moments they capture are genuine and touching. Also, they don’t charge by the hour and stay all day long. That’s classic media ranges from $2,199-3,099 with 3 package options. Packages include just a montage video on the low end and additionally ceremony and reception speeches and DVD copies. We went with the middle package at $2499 which includes the montage, the wedding ceremony, speeches and toasts, but not DVD copies.Really looking forward to working with them!

So, that’s another big detail checked off the list. Any tips or vendors I missed?