The first and most important thing to do is to pick the photographer that will suit you and fit into YOUR day. Make sure you have a look at plenty of websites which will allow you to see many different styles of photography. Some photographers will produce stunning high-art pictures for you but please bear in mind that you will have to give a lot of your time on your Wedding day to the photographer. At least an hour, probably more and that's just for your Bride and Groom shots. Other photographers will produce you a good set of beautiful photographs but will demand a lot less of your time. Some can do your Bride and Groom shots in 20 minutes and still give you a good selection.
Make sure that you ask see some 'whole' Weddings from the photographer you think that you would like. Often you will only be shown specially selected shots from a range of Weddings. It is really important that you know before your big day that your photographer can competently cover the whole day.
You really should spend a good amount of time talking to your photographer. Getting to know them and allowing them to get to know you. Ask yourself "can I imagine this person around me ALL day?" Depending on the service they are offering they could be with you from the bridal preparations right through to the evening celebrations. Ask yourself too "how will they fit in with my guests?" If you are not sure then do not book them. Go for someone who will get on with your guests and who you feel you will be happy with all day.
Great, so now you have chosen somebody whose pictures you like and that you feel will fit in to your day and get on with your guests.
Another important thing to ask is how your will the pictures will come to you after the Wedding day. Do not assume that you will receive a disk, enabling you to print, share, make albums etc. Too many couples are bitterly disappointed afterwards when they only receive low-resolution copies and have to buy prints/albums. The law on copyright is quite clear, the pictures belong to the photographer not you as she/he is the creator. Therefore it is upto them whether they offer you the pictures on a CD or not. Just ask the question and they you will be clear what you will get for your money. You could also ask how long after your Wedding you might get your pictures. This will vary depending on your photographers work load, but 3-4 weeks is common. Bear in mind if they are making you an album you will have to wait longer for that.
You should ask questions of your photographer so that you fully understand how much time that your photographer will spend with you. Are there a set number of hours? Will they charge more or refuse to stay if you over run? Be careful; ask the questions because Weddings do not always go to plan. You do not want your photographer to leave and to miss important events like the cake cutting or the first dance.
It can be worth asking too what 'kit' they use. |They should be using professional grade cameras, lenses and speedlights (flash-gun)If you are not sure take a note of all the details and phone your local camera shop and ask! Important things to think about are ISO (used to exposure control, especially in low-light conditions) and megapixels (give good definition and overall quality - meaning large enlargements are possible). Lenses should be professional grade (this makes the most difference in the quality of an image), they should also have a good aperture range (at least f4 to f16). This will allow creative control and again help shooting in low light conditions. Your photographer should be using some sort of artificial lighting. The minimum being a speedlight to provide what is called 'fill-in flash'. This is essential to light up dark faces and eliminate shadows, especially on a sunny day. Also it will be essential for the indoor and evening shots. You should check as well that your photographer has spare kit. It is no good if they have just one of each (especially camera bodies and speedlights) as equipment can fail and they need to be prepared.
Has your photographer asked you to sign any terms and conditions? They should. By law any contract must be fair to both parties. The T&Cs should protect you as much as they protect the photographer. If they do not then do not sign them! Voice your concerns and ask for amendments. Ask questions about what will happen if your photographer is ill on the day? Will they find a replacement or will you be left with no one? Also what happens if you need to cancel or postpone? Will you get any money back? Also what happens if you are not happy with the pictures afterwards? Check if they belong to a professional organisation. Such as the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP). If they do they will be bound by their rules, you will also have a point of contact for dispute resolution if you are not happy.
Lots of couples do not ask enough questions, make sure you are not one of them and you should not get any nasty surprises!