This quick list will help you find someone with professional experience who is ready to give you the best images no matter the circumstances - my personal definition of a killer wedding photographer.
That being said, just because a photographer can't check off everything on your list doesn't mean they're a bad match. You likely have a gut feeling, go with it! A checklist is guidance, you still know the big picture and can make the best decision for you and your sweetie.
1. Look for people on their website who look like you!
Some photographers work a lot with models for campaigns and commercial work so they may not have experience working with people who aren't as comfortable in front of the camera. It's literally a model's job to pose well for the camera, their job! Non-models can't compete with that unless you happen to be effortlessly confident ;) Find examples you can identify with so you know you're in good hands.
2. Look for photos of venues similar to yours!
If they only have photos of mountain top elopements at golden hour and you're getting married inside a cabin at night, wouldn't you want to see how that setting would be photographed?
Photographers are masters of lighting. Foggy morning light, bright midday sunlight, warm golden hour, cool-toned dusk, flash lighting, lamp lighting, kitchen lighting... I won't go on but I think you can already understand how different every single lighting situation is! Seeing something similar to your setup is a great way to get a glimpse of what your day could look like in images.
3. Not seeing what you want to see on their website or Instagram? Want to see a full wedding gallery? Ask!
Couples have asked for full galleries and I'm happy to send examples to show what I can offer. The more info from the couple the better too, do you want to see family photos? An elopement? Something in a cabin? Something at Craggy? This will help me select a gallery to share!
4. Think about how you want the wedding day to feel when you're in the middle of all the fun.
The best way to get this conversation started is to simply ask "what's your approach and why?". Your photographer will be excited to share this with you!
Weddings often involve some compromise because it's not a day setup just for photography (like a commercial shoot would be). Weddings are setup based on emotion + location + weather + budget + style + family requests and much more. Do you value your experience in the moment or the photos later? Do you prioritize photography and are willing to go off the timeline to get *the shot* of you and your partner? Or do you prefer your photographer let you enjoy time with your family and friends and they can get candids instead?
One more consideration:
As photographers are getting started, they may not have experience in the exact same scenario you're planning and that doesn't mean they can't rock out your wedding! The opportunity to photograph an elopement at a local brewery on a Sunday morning maybe hasn't crossed their path yet! I've had my business open for 5 years and I just photographed my first maternity shoot - it went beautifully and I'm thrilled they trusted me to capture those memories for them!
Happy photog-finding! Wishing you all the best with your wedding day, I hope you enjoy every moment and look back on your photos often.