Planning Your Wedding Photography

Following the National Wedding Show that we attended in September I was struck by the amount of couples querying the need for a second photographer. Should they have one...but not necessarily do they need one. It is a totally reasonable question, and if the schedule of your day is still undecided, it is understandable that you should want to cover all bases just in case. So I thought it would be helpful to explain the when, in my experience, it is useful to have a second photographer, but also how to plan your day to get the most out of a single photographer if your budget does not stretch or you simply do not want a second.

To Second Or Not To Second

The Pro's:

  • An extra view on key moments of the day eg. the start of the ceremony. Do you want to capture the bride / groom's entrance with their father and the groom's reaction when they first see them? Your lead photographer can be set up to cover the ceremony and one of the above, while your second can be catching the other view from another spot in the room.
  • Bridal / groom prep. Where your lead is at the hotel capturing the bridal prep, your second can be at another venue capturing their partner's prep, plus any guest arrivals as they will often arrive at the ceremony venue ahead of the larger bridal / groom party.
  • Extra coverage of your guests having a great time during the day when you are away having your couples shots taken by your lead photographer, and during the speeches or first part of the reception.

The Con's:

  • Additional cost (usually approx. £300+ any additional travel expenses) on top of your photography package.
  • More camera's throughout the day. Some couples are just not that keen on being photographed, or feeling the presence of a photographer, and having the additional camera's about the place throughout the day could feel overwhelming to some.
  • More photos captured. I mean many couples are happy to have as many photos as they possibly can of their day. However when it comes to looking through them all, selecting some to share, some to print, your favourites to put in an album - more is not necessarily better. In fact it can be annoying. And although your lead will of course edit and present the best of the day, you will still expect more shots from two photographers on the day.

“The memories Sarah captured are unbelievable, I have so many favourites. My favourite photo of them all has got to be my husband's expression when I walked down the aisle - this moment I will treasure forever.”

The Decision

So you've read the pro's and you're thinking "yeah baby! I'm having a second!" - great! Speak to your lead photographer about providing a second for you rather than finding another yourself. You have chosen your lead because you love their style and you gel well with them, so it stands to reason they will be the best person to find you a second that will deliver those things too. The cost of that second will be added to your lead's package, and it is all nice and simple!

Hmmm...or you've read the above and are thinking you don't want a second, but you do want your groom's carefully selected suit details to be captured, or his pre-ceremony drinks with his groomsmen documented, and your guests arriving. And you know what, you think your bride's entrance with her father is more important than your public reaction because you are nervous anyway and are not likely to look behind you, but your bride would like to capture your reaction somehow.

Well then...there are a few options here which have worked super well in the past.

  1. Timings for the lead - in the past the couple has worked the timings to enable me to capture bridal prep, bridesmaid prep etc, and then, at the point of alighting into the carriage or car (something which can take a little while), I have whizzed over to the ceremony venue to capture the groom and groomsmen putting finishing touches to their suits, positioning buttonholes, and having a sip of dutch courage. Guests then begin to arrive, I can capture decorative details, family greetings, and guests being seated, before taking up position in the ceremony room ready for the brides entrance. With the right timings, all of this can be covered by your lead.
  2. First looks - this is something I haven't yet done, however is a great way to capture you and your partner's reactions to each other's scrubbed-up selves in a more private setting. This is something that is done often across the Atlantic, but is becoming more popular over here in the UK. We find a beautiful spot at the ceremony venue, or the preparation venue if both of you are staying in the same location, where the two of you can lay eyes on each other, and I can capture the moment before and then the reaction, before one of you disappears down the aisle, and the other rejoins their bridal party ready for the ceremony! Not as traditional, but very romantic!
  3. Hire a videographer - another stills photographer might not be what you need. To get an alternative view of your day that genuinely brings you something different to what your lead is capturing, consider hiring a videographer. You can have them there for as little or as long as you like, and again they can be capturing priority moments, but you can guarantee the resulting wedding film will provide a different and equally beautiful perspective to your wedding album. Plus, if you put your photographer in touch with your videographer before the day of your wedding, they can link up and work well together on the day!

So there we are. Text heavy but hopefully helpful! Instead of riding the trend of multiple photographers, think instead about what really matters to you from your wedding photography and talk to your chosen photographer. Your day can be written your way, and your photographer is there to help! Happy planning all!