I’d imagine if you are reading this blog post you are recently engaged, so lets just start by saying CONGRATS BABES! Truly this is one of the most exciting times in your life, and your adventure is just starting! I have been in your shoes- the ones where you are so excited to start planning but have no idea where to begin. And from a photography standpoint I felt like I was least educated on what I wanted and needed from a photographer.
And this post is really just meant to answer all of those wedding photography FAQ’s. As a bride or groom you have so many different vendors to focus on and choose from. So lets just take the guess work out of what to expect from a photographer on your wedding day and how to plan the day seamlessly.
How many hours should I book?
This is completely dependent on how you envision your wedding day. Some brides just want the ceremony and some of the reception documented. Those same brides aren’t interested in getting ready photos or exit photos. If that’s appeals to you I would say you are safe with a 4 hour package. This allows for plenty of time to document your ceremony, bridal portraits, and a little bit of reception.
If you are a bride who doesn’t want to miss a moment you’ll probably benefit from an 8 hour package. In my 8 hour packages I can generally document from midway through the getting ready process all the way to the end of the wedding night. Some photographers offer a middle ground of a 6 hour package too- that seems to be my bridal clients sweet spot.
Really to determine how many hours you may need of wedding day coverage you have to be realistic with yourself about what your vision is for your day, and what matters most to you!
How do I choose a photographer?
I love this question, mostly because it was something I was so uneducated on for my wedding. This state is oozing with talented photographers- seriously y’all the industry is over saturated with talent. And all of those options can be intimidating. Here’s how I would choose if I could do it all over again…
Style: If you are drawn to a certain style then that is the kind of photographer you are looking for. Some brides love that moody, filmy look. It is honestly my personal favorite. Others like a really light, airy, clean and elegant style. And if you can’t decide there is always a middle ground of bold and true to color photographers. Instagram is a great place to browse for different styles and photographers.
Price: This is something no one likes to talk about, but it is an important factor in choosing a photographer. Most couples sit down and establish a comfortable budget for their big day, and lets be real the photographer will be one of your biggest expenses. Figuring out that budget first allows you to be realistic on who you can afford on your big day. Brides.com estimated this year that the median cost for a wedding photographer can be between 3k-4k. Of course it is possible to find a photographer below that cost- I personally am below that cost. Establishing your budget is the best way to start looking for that dream photographer.
Communication: This one is huge for me! I feel like as a wedding vendor it is our job to not only educate you, but to keep you informed on our end. As a bride I ran into many vendors who lacked in the communication department. There is nothing worse than going weeks without communication from a trusted vendor, especially when you are already stressed out and its crunch time. Make sure to find a photographer, or any vendor for that matter, that you feel comfortable reaching out to and that communication is reciprocated.
What should I expect from my photographer?
Your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life, and we should all treat it as such. I can’t speak for how every wedding photographer works but I can tell you what I prioritize as a wedding photographer.
I personally like to show up about 20 minutes early to greet you and check in. This also gives me a little time to scout the venue if I haven’t shot there yet. I start with detail shots, and ask my brides prior to the big day to make sure all of the details are set aside beforehand so no one is scrambling to find them. Once those detail shots are finished I dive right into getting ready photos- often alternating between bride and groom at least once. Once we get the bride into her dress I like to head down to the ceremony and reception area to grab those detail shots, and right after we head into ceremony.
After ceremony I like to do full bridal party photos, and family portraits. And the remaining time before the grand entrance is focused on those authentic bride and groom portraits. Everything after those portraits is really run by the DJ. If I am there for 8 hours you can normally find me at reception for about 2 hours.
All of this can be laid out in a timeline BEFORE the big day. I like to meet up with my couples about 2 months before just to finalize the details of a timeline. That gives them plenty of time to get it back to their other vendors and for adjustments to be made if needed. This provides a seamless timeline on the day, with a little wiggle room if needed.
It’s important to remember that no wedding timeline is set in stone. I have had wedding timelines run really late or early, and honestly we just roll with it. Try not to stress the small stuff- it’s your dang wedding day!
How will I receive my wedding gallery?
This is something that will be unique to your wedding photographer of choice. Most of us like to deliver digital galleries where you can download and print at a place of your choosing. Others prefer to send out flash drives with the wedding photos. Photographers can also use drobox to deliver your day of photos. This is a question only your photographer can answer- but it is an important question to ask.
One thing I can say is if you get your wedding gallery via digital gallery make sure to download your whole gallery, and to back those photos up. Most of us have a gallery that expires after a certain date- and some do charge a fee to re-activate the old gallery. Save yourself some heartache and money and just download the entire thing. Your wedding photographer will thank you!
How long should it take to get my photos back?
Again, this is fully dependent on who your photographer is. If you choose a photographer who is taking 15 weddings a month your timeline could be anywhere from 4-10 weeks to get a full gallery delivery. I personally have been known to deliver in 2-3 weeks a full wedding gallery, but I also set aside the time to focus on the wedding and editing so I can have that turnaround time. If I was taking on 15 weddings a month that timeline would not be possible.
This is an important question to ask your photographer. You can check online reviews for others experiences, and that is normally a great indication of what your experience will be like!
So I hope this answers at least a few of the questions you’ve had on wedding photography. As a bride they were questions I had, and didn’t even know to ask. Your wedding day should feel as stress free as possible. And making sure you choose a vendor that you trust can help make that a lot easier!
And regardless of who you choose, your day will be magical and everything will end up exactly how it is supposed to!
Looking for a wedding photographer? Click HERE to contact me and learn more about my services! I am an Arizona based wedding photographer, but I love to travel as well!