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Laura
Beginner April 2022

Booking a Photographer

Laura, on July 6, 2020 at 8:23 PM Posted in Planning 0 17
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I am getting baffled by photographer pricing/timing. I know this is very naive, but going into wedding planning I thought you booked the photographer for the day and they were there to capture everything with one set rate. Now my eyes have been opened and I see that they have various packages with various hours of time. So my question is this - who is planning to have a photographer there from getting ready until the end of the reception? Is it worth the massive splurge to have them there for the whole day? I am likely going to need one for many hours, since we are going to get ready in the AM, have a church ceremony in the early afternoon, and then the reception starting around 6 PM. Am I looking at a massive splurge? They are still on the clock during travel, down time, etc. right? And I heard you need to count the photographer and other vendors in your guest list - do they sit at a table and eat? Any advice is MUCH welcomed.

17 Comments

  • Kristen
    Rockstar November 2020
    Kristen ·
    • Flag

    Depending on the hours for it being all day yes it can range in the thousands. I will say I am having my photographer start from getting ready (i.e. putting on dress) and then through the ceremony and some post ceremony pics. Intimate ceremony no reception to follow rather taking friends out for dinner which I do not need pics of that. Do you really want all those getting ready, make up and hair shots? If not, I would maybe have them show up about 1 hr prior to the ceremony.

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  • Jessica
    VIP September 2020
    Jessica ·
    • Flag
    The number of hours is from their arrival to when they leave your event, so yes it includes any down time you may have. We have our photographer for six hours, the last hour of getting ready (we don’t want pictures without hair and makeup done), through our ceremony and short reception. About 20-25 minutes of the six hours will be travel time between locations, but that’s not terrible considering.
    You may be able to find photographers that do their pricing differently, we talked to one that charged by the number of pictures you buy rights to. It was interesting, and really forced them to capture pictures you will love.
    As far as meals, they don’t sit at a guest table and most caterers charge a separate rate for vendor meals.
    • Reply
  • Megan
    Expert October 2020
    Megan ·
    • Flag
    We are starting to get ready at 10 and ceremony is at 4 with first look at 2:30 we are having ours coming at 1 so we get the last little bit of getting ready for the zip of the dress photo photos in the robes right before getting dressed but majority of hair and makeup is done. We are then having them leave a few hours before the reception ends. 1 to 9 is 8 hours and our whole thing is done at 10. All the good stuff will be done by then. For our venue they have a little break room so they will take a break and eat some dinner for 30 mins in a separate area not out with the guests and those breaks are not included in our time but it might be different for each vendor. Our caterer also included up to ten vendor meals in our contract for the photo, dj, officiant etc. we got a package with two photographers but are only having one come for the early get ready pics which saved a few $.
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  • Shana
    Dedicated October 2020
    Shana Online ·
    • Flag
    We booked our photographer for 6 hours so she will be able to take some getting ready photos and detail shots, then ceremony and some of reception. My ceremony starts at 4. So I would imagine she would come around 2 maybe? So therefore would be done around 8? Our reception would be over at 10 so she would only be missing a few hours at the end of the night which is mostly drunken dancing so I can live without that haha. I believe a lot of photographer packages are for 8 hours though which would give more time but we saved a lot going with just 6 hours and we also have a smaller wedding so I didn’t think the 2 extra hours were needed.
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  • Mrs. S
    Super November 2019
    Mrs. S ·
    • Flag
    I hired my photographer for a six hour package plus an hour added on so 7 total. It was a lot cheaper than getting the 8 hour package and especially the 10 hour one. I don’t think 7 hours was quite enough. The getting ready part was supposed to be staged, I couldn’t have afforded him to be there the whole day, but it still felt very rushed. The rest of the day went very smoothly and it was 100% worth it to have him capture our full reception and send off.
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  • V
    Master July 2019
    Veronica ·
    • Flag

    We had our photographers from noon to 10 pm. We started getting ready at 8 am. When they arrived, the husband (the second shooter) went to scope out the area so he would know where good photo opportunities would be. Once he was done with that, he went to the suite where the guys were. The wife (the main photographer) came to the suite where us ladies were getting ready. She started by taking detail photos then she took photos of us getting ready. Hair and makeup took several hours so she was still made to capture photos of us getting ready. Unfortunately, she didn't get photos of everyone getting ready. We were going to do some staged photos of the ones she wasn't there to see actually get ready, but that never happened. It is pretty common to have some staged getting ready photos. I had wanted her to come earlier, but my husband wanted her there for the entire reception. We paid $2,300 for 10 hours of coverage. She was a newer photographer (less than 5 years of experience) so her pricing wasn't as expensive. She was also traveling from a different part of the state so her fees were a lot less than those in the area. I'm not sure how the gap that you have works for photographers, but I do know that gaps aren't ideal for guests. As for food, all of your vendors should receive a meal. Vendor meals are also often cheaper because they won't be consuming alcohol. We paid the same price for vendors as we did for children. Our venue gave us the option to have them sit at a vendor table or to have their meals placed in a separate room for them to go and eat. We choose to have a vendor table rather than forcing them to eat in a separate area. They were supposed to have a different meal (chicken or vegetarian where their options), but the coordinator at the venue told them to go to the buffet. I noticed that they were in line for the buffet and asked the coordinator about it and she said it was her mistake and they were fine to have the buffet. It was better food than what they would have had as a vendor meal so I'm sure they were happy about that.

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  • Michelle
    Devoted April 2021
    Michelle ·
    • Flag
    We have our photographer for 8 hours. We can use that time however we want but travel time counts towards that. We decided to use the whole time for the wedding/reception with 2 hrs before the ceremony for the last of getting ready pics, bride with bridesmaids & groom with groomsmen pics. I want the 1st look as I’m walking down the isle. Our reception ends @ 10 so they’ll get pics of our send off. The photographer said he will bring his own food & the venue provides water, tea & soda.
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  • Super August 2020
    ·
    • Flag

    Especially since you have a long break between your ceremony and reception, you will be spending a small fortune on photography, but it is possible to save some time at the beginning and end of the day.

    We're having our photographer for six hours, but our ceremony and reception are happening in the same place. I really don't feel the need to have "getting ready" photos,* so our photographer will arrive early enough for a first look/family photos and stay through the ceremony, cocktail hour, and a little more than half of the reception. If you're worried about the cost and you live near an art school, you could contact their photography department and ask if they have a way to connect you with students.
    As a few other people said, you do need to provide a meal for your vendors, but most venues will give you a special rate for this. Our venue charges about 1/3 of the amount for vendor meals, but the vendors don't get to choose their entrees (other than avoiding allergens/dietary restrictions). They should be given somewhere to sit and eat, but the venue should handle this, you don't have to worry about which of your friends/relatives to seat them with.

    *no judgement if you want them, but I feel like the part of the day when someone else helped me get dressed is not the part I want to remember the most.
    • Reply
  • Erin
    Expert August 2020
    Erin ·
    • Flag
    We are starting at 2 pm from 10 pm. This will cover everything from us getting ready and partying at the reception with friends and family. It helps to find a photographer with a second shooter! They cover more in less time. I also plan on making a table for all of my vendors to sit down and eat. My photographer was actually surprised I took the time out to ask her what her and the second shooter would like to eat. I guess a lot of brides forget they are there all day without a break and nothing to eat.
    • Reply
  • A
    Expert October 2021
    Ashley ·
    • Flag
    It really depends on what you want your photographer to capture. We aren’t having a send off because we’re relocating to an after party at the resort’s bar, so it’s okay if our photographer leaves before the reception ends. We’re also doing all of our pictures before the ceremony, so we need more of her time in the early afternoon.
    Photographers are great at timelines and knowing how much time they’ll need for all of your portraits. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about timelines when you first speak to a potential photographer!
    Your vendors should be including how many meals they require in the contract, and your venue or caterer should have the cost of vendor meals in theirs. Our photographer has an assistant and requires two meals while our DJ only needs one. All of that is factored into our overall budget along with gratuity.
    • Reply
  • Chelsea G
    Devoted March 2021
    Chelsea G ·
    • Flag

    As PP said, it depends on what is important for you to have captured. If you don't care about the getting ready photos then you don't need a 10 hour or all day package. I really don't feel the need for those pictures so I am not having those done. I essentially want to have a first look with my dad, ceremony, formals, and reception photos so I am going w/ 6-7 hours total.

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  • Samantha
    Savvy July 2021
    Samantha ·
    • Flag

    It really just depends on what is important to you. We have our photographers (the main photographer and his assistant) for 10 hours, but photography is also our only real expense for our wedding because we are eloping - so we are okay with the fact that it is taking 75% of our total budget. He will capture everything on the day of, from getting ready to the end of the "reception" (family dinner) and then after dinner we will go with them to another location at sunset for portraits and what not.

    ALSO what is a HUGE factor in photography pricing is the time outside of the wedding: editing, culling, any retouching, the photographer's experience, etc.

    I would really look at the portfolios of any photographers you are looking at and choose which style and finished product you like the best. Choose the photographer who puts out a whole, quality portfolio in a style that you like Smiley smile

    • Reply
  • Hannah
    Rockstar July 2019
    Hannah ·
    • Flag
    Our photographer actually didn't charge by the hour or by number of photos. He just had a set rate for the day, but that was more just his philosophy built into his business model. He ended up being with us from noon to 10:30pm. I'm not sure how common that is. We only interviewed 2 photographers in person and they both charged by the day. If you really want the getting ready photos, you don't actually need the photographer there until you're about ready to put on your dress. If you notice, the "putting on makeup" photos are usually staged. You don't want pictures of like...mascara on 1 eye and not the other. So you can have the photographer start at like the last half hour of you getting ready. That will shave off some time. That being said, the getting ready photos are usually not the ones that make it into albums and picture frames, so if budget is a concern, you can skip them. As another poster said, the vendors are usually not included in your guest count and most caterers give a discounted rate for vendors (ours was $30 per vendor meal instead of the $120 per adult guest). However, depending on when you are getting married, vendors will count in the headcount for COVID restrictions.
    • Reply
  • Chelsea
    Dedicated June 2021
    Chelsea ·
    • Flag

    I'm just doing a 4-hour package. My ceremony will start at 3 and we'll do the send-off at 8. I plan on having my photographer there from 2:30 - 6:30. He'll get a few before shots, the ceremony, all our formal pictures, and the first dance and all as well. This is only costing me $700.

    A friend from college is going to be my videographer (for free). I'm going to have a photobooth set up like this https://www.etsy.com/listing/699991029/printed-greenery-bridal-shower-photo?ref=user_profile and a custom snapchat filter, so I'm not too worried. I'm mainly doing it for the formal photos.

    • Reply
  • Courtney
    Master December 2019
    Courtney ·
    • Flag

    Our photographer was $1250 for six hours- this included getting ready up until about the last 30 minutes of the reception (really not a big deal to me).

    This worked out great for us because she met me and my girls at the venue where we were changing and getting in final touches before the ceremony. I wasn't too worried about the reception because I knew people were going to take their own pictures and by that hour many of guests with kids we're going to start leaving.

    I would suggest sticking with what your budget allows. However if you do find someone who would be the perfect fit minus one small stipulation, ask if that's something they can tweak. You'd be surprised how often vendors would be willing to work with you.

    • Reply
  • Suzanne
    Dedicated July 2020
    Suzanne ·
    • Flag

    I have my own theory on this: Most weddings are in the afternoon/evening, and so vendors can only realistically do one wedding a day. Because of this, they all try to upsell us on full day packages as if that means something. No, I do not need a DJ for my ceremony even if he's available for both the ceremony and reception. No, I do not need a limo for 6 hours because my ceremony and reception are at the same place. etc.

    So for photographer (to address your query), no I do not need a picture of myself without makeup "getting ready", or my dress on a hanger, or my hair half done. I want nice portraits, the ceremony, and the reception. I understand that unless some morning bride books my photographer, I'm the only wedding she'll have that day. But still, I don't see why I should pay more for hours of photographs that I don't want.

    Our photographer offered an engagement shoot that we're not doing because I don't want to get dressed up twice. She added it into an extra 30min of time for the wedding day. We got a 4hour package that should include first look, ceremony, reception, and get-away.

    • Reply
  • Kari
    VIP May 2020
    Kari ·
    • Flag

    To address your two biggest questions:

    How long do I need a photographer for? This is a matter of personal preference, but at minimum I'd say you'd want coverage of the ceremony itself, some portraits after, and a bit of the reception. You absolutely do not need a photographer from the moment you start getting ready to the final send off. Most "getting ready" photos are somewhat staged, and a photographer will likely need not more than 1/2 hour to get these prior to you going to your ceremony site. And unless you are planning a particularly spectacular send off, your dancing photos from hour one of dancing are going to be sufficient and you won't need hours two, three, and four documented. You'll want your photographer to capture some details of your wedding day (rings, dress, table settings, flowers, decor) and all of the rituals you'll be doing (exchanging vows and rings, cutting the cake, bouquet toss, first dances, etc). If your reception just devolves into a general party at some point, you don't necessarily need a photographer through all of it.

    When looking at photographers, tell them your wedding day schedule and talk through it with them. They should be able to give you a good idea of how long they'll need to be present to get the coverage you want.

    And just for the record, there won't be much down time (for you or your photographer) during the day. When you are taking a moment to breathe and relax your photographer will be shooting those detail shots, scouting out locations, setting up equipment, etc. So yes you pay them for the whole time you have them, unless their contract specifies otherwise.


    Do I feed them? Typically yes (this will be in your contract) but they don't count as guests. Your caterer will generally have options for vendor meals - these are generally less fancy, less costly, and more of a one plate option vs a multi-course feast. At our venue, the per head cost for a vendor meal was about half the cost of a guest meal. They will be provided their meal and eat separately from your guests. Typically photographers, musicians/entertainment, officiants, wedding planners, etc get a vendor meal.


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