First things first. What draws your eye? Not all photographers are the same. Visit a variety of wedding blogs to get an idea of what you really love, then search for photographers with a similar style.
Think about your budget (but don’t let that discourage you). Are you crazy for Jose Villa and Tec Petaja? Search for a photographer who shoots film. Do you want to emulate Max Wanger’s quirky brilliance or Our Labor of Love’s vintage beauty? There is a photographer out there for every budget. You might not get a carbon copy of the famous photog you love, but you can look to replicate the qualities that drew you to them in the first place.
Look at vendor directories. There are so many great resources out there for recommendations. Style Me Pretty, Green Wedding Shoes, 100 Layer Cake, Once Wed, Wedding Chicks… they all have fantastic vendor directories, in addition to the big sites like The Knot.
You can also head back to the real weddings on your favorite blogs… click over to the featured photographers’ pages and check them out. That’s why they’re there! They would love to hear from you, and just because they’re featured that doesn’t automatically mean they’re not affordable.
Check reviews. You should do this for all of your vendors. It will help you to narrow down your list.
Once you’ve found a few photographers you really love, ask about their availability and pricing.
Then, if everything looks good, set up an interview and ask tons of questions. How much experience do they have, how do they approach the day, is there anything they don’t or won’t shoot… you can find a pretty exhaustive list of question ideas here. And if you’re thinking outside the box (maybe you want something you don’t see on their price list?) don’t be afraid to ask, they’ll be happy to give you an answer, and in most cases to customize a package for you.
Don’t underestimate the importance of liking your photographer. You’re going to depend on them to catch you at your very best… if you don’t really click with them, it will make the process that much harder.
And, last but not least, sleep on it. Remember that your pictures are going to be your best reminder of the day for years to come. Take your time with the decision, you’ll be happy you did.