We get asked this question A LOT. There is no good canned answer but I can give you a few things to consider when thinking about how much time you’ll need on this business. My friend, who owns and operates http://nemusphotography.com helped us with some of the answers for you.
1. Getting ready shots. Getting ready shots are the most common thing that I see people take out of their wedding photography package and the most common thing that I hear people say they regret not having photos of. When you are looking through your photos a couple of weeks after the wedding is over, it always a huge bonus to have pictures of your hair getting done, your make-up getting done and photos of your fiance and his buddies getting ready. The most common thing that I hear people say about the getting ready shots is: it helps to build a more complete story of the day.
2. Photos before vs. after the ceremony. This is also something that is becoming more and more popular. When I first started shooting weddings 10 years ago in Detroit I didn’t have a single wedding where the bride and the groom saw each other before the wedding. Now-a-days, I would say that about 1/2 of the 80-100 weddings that we do each year involve bride and groom photos before the wedding. There are definite pros and cons to seeing each other beforehand. I can’t say if you SHOULD do it, but I will say that if you do photos before you can spend MUCH more time and get tons more variety. A 1/2 hour after the ceremony is about average for the amount of time that I (as the photographer) would get with just the bride and groom. The last big wedding that we did where the bride and groom saw each other beforehand involved three photographers (Nick, Maddy and Philip) and an hour and a half with the bride and groom. We got tons of amazing stuff.
3. Do you need a photographer till the very end? Once the dancing starts there isn’t a whole lot of time that you need the photographer there. I would say that on average an hour of dancing is enough. Once the Bride/Groom dance, the Mother/Son and Daddy/Daughter and Garter/Bouquet have been done most of the photos look the same. If you’re trying to figure out time, I’d say that most you can cut the photographer an hour before the end of the night. Of course, if you’d like photos of the two of you leaving the reception (sparklers, get-away car…) the photographer has to stay.
4. Photos at the end of the night? These are also pretty cool. The photos really tell a whole story if you have all the photos in your album starting with the hair and makeup and then the end of the album has a picture of the two of you “ending the night.” Our style at Blue Bend Photography is one of story telling. We believe in telling a story in photos and when you have an clear beginning and an clear end it really puts the album together nicely.Take a look at Gerber baby photo contest online to see how they do it.
5. Adding it all together. The first question that I always ask brides and grooms on the phone is what time everything is ending. Once you know what time you need a photographer to stay until, you can start doing the math backwards. So if your wedding reception is booked till 11 and you didn’t want the “get-away” shot, you would probably need someone till 10pm. Next question would be “Do I want getting ready shots?” If your hair/makeup was going to get done starting at 2pm, you’d want the photographer to show up at 2. All together that would be 8 hours. This can also help you with planning the rest of the timeline of your day. If hair and makeup is going to take 2 hours and your ceremony is supposed to start at 5 and you might want photos of the two of you before the ceremony… you might want to push your hair and makeup back a couple of hours. Remember, it’s always better to have a little more time to play with. The last thing you want on your wedding day is to feel rushed or pressured. Start early and enjoy the day.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. I know it may seem weird to ask photographers about non-photography wedding things, like cooking and so on, but believe me… we’ve seen a lot of weddings. From the kitchen to best kitchen knives we can help you with everything.