Choosing to DIY your wedding doesn’t me you have to do EVERYTHING yourself. You can pick and choose what parts and pieces you want to tackle, and those which you’re going to put into the hands of a competent professional.

I did a Facebook LIVE in a bridal chat group about this topic the other night, and one of the biggest points I tried to make is that you will never regret putting money into professional photography. If you cannot afford a full day with a pro, see about getting them for a few hours for the ceremony and formal shots.

Bill and I posing with our wedding party in Freedom Plaza, September 2004

Lots of brides and grooms receive generous offers of photography from well-meaning friends and family who are amateur photographers or budding wedding photographers. If you’re not that into pictures of yourself, you might think it’s a great idea. But it’s not.

Me and my mom at my wedding

I learned the hard way. A bridesmaid’s husband offered to do my wedding pictures for my destination wedding. I didn’t know any better 14 years ago, and I accepted his generous offer. The problem was that he didn’t have enough actual wedding experience to be able to take the best pictures. When we lost the light, he wasn’t prepared, and most of my actual day-of wedding pictures are a terrible quality. My black bridesmaid’s head completely disappeared in a few shots. Not even kidding. And she’s a pretty girl, so that kinda sucked.

Fortunately, we had a formal wedding reception a week later at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, and as that bridesmaid and her husband lived across the country and wouldn’t be attending the second weekend in a row, I hired a professional photographer to do pictures of my wedding party, family and the reception. I wanted to get the shots with the Capitol in the background, and we did. But more than just that, the pictures that my photographer took in DC were so much better all-around than the ones from Puerto Rico. It’s shockingly different. Yeah, I knew the island ones weren’t great. But I didn’t really how bad they were until I was able to compare the two sets. Wow. Big shocker. If I had it to do over again, I would have brought a professional wedding photographer to Puerto Rico.

Check out this video – it’s a promo that we sometimes use to introduce me when I’m making an appearance at an Expo or a symposium. In the very beginning, there’s a montage of my own wedding pictures in Puerto Rico and in DC. You’ll see the difference immediately.

The exception to the rule is letting a friend who is actually a professional wedding photographer take your pictures. My advice: Think about how close you are to the person, and whether you want to be dancing and partying with them at your wedding. They can’t be catching the clutch shots of you and friends doing the Chacha Slide if she’s doing the dance with you. Get my point? A lot of people who have friends take their pictures say that they didn’t get all the pictures they wanted, even if they loved the pictures received.

Until next time, happy wedding planning!