Is a Second Wedding Photographer Worth the Cost? – A Photographer’s Take
So You’re Planning a Wedding!
It’s engagement season, which means the start of wedding planning for many happy couples. For the next several months life is going to be a whirlwind of lists, meetings, decisions and budgeting. And re-budgeting. One of those things to budget is going to be photography. You realize it’s an important decision for your wedding day, or you wouldn’t be reading this post. So when it comes to prioritizing your expenses, is a second wedding photographer worth the cost, really?
Should you Splurge on a Second Photographer?
So let’s get into it. Should you actually spend the money to get 2 photographers? The short answer is, it depends. What are your must have photos in your wedding album? And how large is your wedding? If you’re having a 500 person bash, then no question about it. Yes, you should splurge on a second photographer. And possibly even a third.
What if you’re having a smaller wedding? The average wedding I photograph has about 120-150 guests. I do a lot of intimate weddings as well with less than 50 people. Almost all of those I have photographed as a solo shooter. I have never had a couple dissatisfied with the amount of pictures they got back or feel like they were missing any angles or moments. Even for an afternoon tea wedding I deliver at least 300 pictures. How many are actually going to make it into your album or are you going to use as your screensaver? If you narrow down which key moments matter most to you it will help you decide. And then communicate those moments to your photographers(s).
1. What Moments Really Warrant a Second Photographer?
There are the only two key points during your wedding day (in my opinion) where two photographers would really be warranted. Getting ready, and walking down the aisle. A photographer who specializes in weddings will know the moments to look out for. I’ve never missed the groom’s reaction to seeing his bride or a first kiss for example. Thus, the thought that having 2 photographers just to make sure you don’t miss any important moments shouldn’t be a concern if you hire a wedding specialist. Even so I am (or any photographer is) only one person which means I can only be in one place at a time.
Depending on your photographer, if you’re getting ready close to each other it’s totally reasonable to get both the bride and groom getting ready. Think of the shots you’re going to want to include in your photo book or album. It’s going to be a select few. It won’t be the pictures of everyone just rolled out of bed and still in their slippers. It’s going to be the shots where makeup is done or well underway and everyone is starting to feel pretty.
I can get as many usable shots of the guys getting ready and being out the door in 20 minutes as of the girls in 2 hours. In all the orders of prints or photo books I get, it’s always the same getting ready pictures that are included – and it’s never the ones where everyone is running around in sweats. If you’re getting ready within a reasonable distance of each other, then don’t despair. You can indeed have getting ready pictures of both of you, and you’ll never realize there wasn’t more than 1 photographer when looking at your pictures.
The Aisle Walk
The second moment many brides worry about is the aisle walk with dad and/or mom. It’s an important moment, and a very emotional one. When I shoot a wedding solo, I make sure to get 2 or 3 good shots of the bride walking down the aisle from the front. Then I scoot around and to the top of the aisle. Even if the actual aisle walk is over by then, there is still enough time to get a couple of good shots from behind. Two photographers would be able to capture twice as many shots. But then again, do you actually need 20 pictures of you walking down the aisle?
2. How About the Cocktail Hour? And the Reception?
Is a second wedding day photographer worth the cost then? Most of the time during cocktail hour, the happy couple along with the bridal party are off to do the formal part of the wedding day pictures. But in my experience, without exception, every couple wants to be back to enjoy the tail end of the cocktail hour. And reasonably so! It’s a happy, relaxed time to mingle with family and friends before the formal reception begins.
But, what about all those shots you’re going to miss of your friends enjoying drinks and appies? And a couple more drinks a few more appies? And some good old fashioned standing around and talking? And perhaps just one more appetizer. Are you getting the point? How many pictures of your family and friends standing around talking, drinking and eating, and close ups of the appies and drinks are you actually going to want? It takes a very short time to get some fantastic pictures of your cocktail hour.
The same goes for the reception. It’s impossible for even an entire team of photographers to get every single moment during the day. You’d need an entire hard drive to store that many images even if were possible. So not possible, and not practical either! One of the comments I hear most when delivering the digital album is how many great moments were captured that the couple didn’t even realize had happened.
3. Is a Second Wedding Photographer Worth the Cost for YOUR Wedding?
As I pointed out at the beginning, if you’re having an exceptionally large wedding I would definitely recommend at least 2 photographers. There are many more details, faces, moments and angles to work around. It’s very difficult for one photographer to move quickly from one place to another in a huge crowd in a very large venue. Also, if those moments we discussed are exceptionally important to you, then yes. By all means get a second photographer.
I have an awesome photography team when it’s required. However, in most cases despite what you read and what anyone tries to sell you, you probably don’t NEED a second photographer. You will still get an amazing set of pictures with many, many great memories to look back on. All of the pictures in this post are from weddings I shot as a solo photographer.
Is it worth it for you?
Now that you’re armed with some advice from a pro I hope it will make your decision easier. If you want to splurge on hiring more than one photographer you won’t hurt the end result of your photos by any means. It’s your day and you know what’s important to you and your budget. Even if it is in your budget, you may choose to put the extra money toward your honeymoon or your down payment on a new home. But if it’s not in your budget, don’t despair. Your wedding album will be awesome anyway.
Happy wedding planning!
I’m a Vancouver based wedding photographer. I have photographed weddings in 10 cities, in 3 countries, as well as the engagements and weddings of 2 former Miss Canadas. Follow me on Instagram @fotogratopia and like me on Facebook. Are you looking for a photographer? If so, have a browse through the wedding gallery and pricing and to check availability for your wedding date.
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