Have you ever booked a wedding photographer before? Nope – me neither! So it’s tricky to know if you’re asking all the right questions, and to be sure exactly what you need – especially when it comes to timings. Do you need “all day coverage”? Or are you allowed to just book your photographer for a shorter length of time? The standard is for your photographer to capture a few images as you’re getting ready with your girls and best guys, and for him or her to leave just after the first dance. But things are changing… and especially with documentary style photography it’s kind of fun if your photographer can stay a little longer (because seriously, as a couple you’ll be a little self conscious for the first dance… but by the tenth dance you and your besties will ROCK that dance floor, right?!!)
Lovely Annelie Eddy Photography published a great feature on her blog about how long you should book your wedding photographer for. Here’s a version of that post but do, please check out the original too!
The key questions to ask your wedding photographer when you’re deciding how long to book them for are…
1. What time should your wedding photographer arrive?
Personally I think those photos of you with your girls / guys (this article is for grooms to read too, as is everything on English Wedding!) getting ready and having a giggle are priceless, and really capture the excitement of the beginning of your day. I LOVE to see the morning preparations of a wedding day – the intimate moments with your mum, your best girls, the flower girls and little ones all a little overawed by everything that’s going on around them! The details are key too: they set the scene for your wedding album. And if you’re sticking to tradition and not casting eyes on each other until the ceremony, then seeing what you both got up to in the morning will be a special moment to share when your wedding photos arrive!
So ideally, your wedding photographer should start about 2 or 3 hours before your ceremony. By the time you’re ready to walk down the aisle, you’ll have gotten used to them and you’ll barely notice they’re there!
2. Do I have to have getting ready photos?
If you’re on a budget then no, you don’t have to have the early part of your day captured on camera. Your photographer should arrive around 30 minutes before your ceremony is due to begin – giving them time to take some photos of the ceremony venue, and capturing natural images of your guests as they arrive. It’s also a nice opportunity to get some pictures of the groom and wedding party, as they tend to be there a little earlier than the bride!
3. What if we’re having a first look?
This is an idea I absolutely love. If you’re going to spend a few private moments together before the ceremony, allow an extra half hour or so. You’ll be surprised how fast the time goes – and you don’t want to rush this really special part of your day. Your first look is a brilliant opportunity for your photographer to capture really romantic images – and with your hair and makeup absolutely perfect too!
4. What about the evening reception: should the wedding photographer leave after the first dance?
Please, lovelies – if there’s one piece of advice I can give, it’s to hire a photographer who’ll stick around just a little longer! Annelie recommends an hour or two after the first dance – because nothing much changes after an hour or so on the dance floor, and your photographer will have taken a good selection of party pictures in the first hour of the evening. (Can you predict how the dance floor will go? If your friends and family take a little time to really get going, should your photographer stick around for longer to capture them throwing those amazing shapes they’re all famous for?!)
However – if you have something planned for later in the evening, like a sparkler send off or a change in evening entertainment, then do mention it to your photographer when you book them. Perhaps you’re lighting the outside of your venue with festoon lights, or having fire pits and s’mores with toasty blankets and candles so your guests can relax outside. In that case, you might like your photographer to be around as it begins to get darker so they can capture the full effect of your pretty lights!
5. What’s the best option if we’re on a budget? Can we book a wedding photographer just for a few hours?
This really is a question for the experts, and Annelie recommends asking your wedding photographer for an hour of getting ready pictures, and then to cover the ceremony and drinks reception. “A good time for your photographer to finish would be as you sit down for the wedding breakfast as there are usually only a few good shots that come out of this part of the day.”
She also offers this top tip: you could move the speeches to before the meal, so your photographer can capture the laughter and atmosphere as everyone speaks, as well as the star performances from your faves and your closest family too. They’re moments to treasure and the photos will bring back so many memories!
Annelie Eddy is a London-based documentary wedding photographer, capturing natural and authentic photography that doesn’t take you away from your wedding day.