Planning a wedding is a big journey. To an outsider, this may look easy: pick a day, find a photographer, and dance away. But in reality, wedding planning reminds of a Russian nesting doll: endless details within details. A perfect wedding day needs all of them to be taken care of. Happily, most challenges are almost over when you get your hands on the right resources. A wedding photography permit is definitely one of those questions. So, let’s get you all geared up for the big day ;)
What is a photography permit and why do I need it?
A photography permit is a document that allows you to use a certain location or facilities for your photography needs. It’s somewhat similar to a bowling or golf session: you get to use the space for as long as your permit allows you (usually, permits are sold in 2-hour increments). You should understand that a photography permit is not a photographer’s whim – this is a requirement of a venue owner or (in case of a public park) the government. If a permit is required, you MUST get it. Even if your friend or aunt are unanimously telling you that you might get away without one, this is not a situation where you want to listen to them.
How do I know if I need a permit? Types of permits
First of all, pick a location where you want your wedding photographs to be taken. Then, look up the venue online. You might not necessarily find anything about permits, but if there’s a phone number, it’s best to call and ask. And don’t forget to ask your photographer – wedding photographers can sometimes give you more relevant and accurate information than Google :)
There are two types of photography permits: commercial permit and wedding photography permit. The cost of a commercial permit is usually X times cost of a wedding one. Make sure you’re inquiring about a wedding photography permit, not a commercial one.
Do I need it for an engagement session?
Most parks and public areas would not require a permit for an engagement session. However, if you are looking to arrange a super-styled-up shoot with lots of lights, gear, and assistants – you might need one as well.
How much does a wedding photography permit cost?
In most cases, a permit will cost you from $100 to $200 CAD for 2 hours. This will do for most of Toronto City parks, or places like Newmarket Tannery. If you are after a fairy-tale Casa Loma photos or fashion-oriented Distillery District bridal session, your wallet will get lighter by another $150-$200. Although this is yet another wedding expense (sometimes an unexpected one), try to think of it as an amazing opportunity to choose the place where you can take the best pictures you’ve ever had with the ones you love on the most important day of your life.
How soon do I need to get my wedding photography permit?
There is no right answer. Generally, the sooner the better. If you have figured out your venue, ceremony time, and found a photographer – get the permit. Consider the time needed to get to the location after the ceremony, include half an hour for after-ceremony hugs and kisses, and book it for the nearest time available. For example, your ceremony starts at 12 and will last for one hour. Driving time to the photography location is 15 minutes.
- 12pm-1pm – ceremony
- 1pm-1:30pm – hugs, kisses, group portraits
- 1pm-1:45pm – driving to the location.
Book for 2 pm. And yes, it’s fine if you arrive a bit ahead of your booked time :)
Who takes care of getting your permit?
You will probably discuss this with your photographer. Most couples prefer to have control over everything and choose to obtain the permit themselves. If anything changes last minute, you are in charge and will be able to control the situation. Another reason to do it yourself is to minimize the number of monetary transactions with the studio. In most cases, your wedding photographer is the only vendor with whom you might have more that 3 or even 4 transactions (depending on your payment schedule). Bringing that number down by 1 might not be a bad idea ;)
But again, discuss this with your photographer, and you will find an optimal solution for your wedding.
• Even if you have paid for the venue, it doesn’t mean there will be no other weddings there. Popular locations allow several brides to book for the same time span. No worries, it rarely gets to a bride fight :) Just remember that arriving on time never hurts, and this is the case when it helps!
• If you are the one arranging for the permit, make sure to forward the confirmation email to your photographer as soon as you get it.
• Be sure to carry a printout of the permit on the day. While in most cases an email confirmation on your iPhone will do, it’s still better to have a carbon copy.
• If your wedding is covered by both photographer and videographer teams, make sure that they have agreed to share the time. Usually, the most logical way is this: while your wedding photographer is working with you, the videographer is working with your bridal party, and vice versa. And during the last 40 minutes they can work side-by-side.
• Bring up this question during your photography consultations. Wedding photographers are usually well-informed about nice locations.
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