You might be feeling overwhelmed trying to decide what you should have in your wedding photography package. You’ve probably never hired a wedding photographer before, and you have no idea what you need included and what you don’t! I’m here to help you understand what you should get in your wedding photography package to make sure every special moment you care about is captured with beautiful images without blowing your budget.
You’ll probably see options for engagement sessions, bridals, albums, and everything in between. You may not even know what some of these things are, or what they’re for. That’s why I’ve made this guide to explain some of the most popular things I see included in wedding photography packages, so you can start thinking about which ones you want for you and your fiancée!
Engagement photos are usually taken pretty soon after you get engaged, and they’re one of the first things you’ll book with your wedding photographer. This is one of the most common things you’ll find in a wedding photography package. If you’re a person who is nervous about getting in front of the camera, or worried you’re not a picturesque person, taking the time for an hour engagement session is especially important for you! You can practice feeling comfortable and see what poses end up being your favorites once you get your gallery back.
Engagement sessions are an amazing way to get comfortable with your photographer. They’ll help you get a feel for what to expect on your wedding date, and they can even be used for save-the-date cards and announcements! As a wedding photographer, this is where I get a feel for you as a couple. That way when I show up on your wedding day I already know you guys can nail that killer dip, and he’s got a gorgeous laugh I definitely need to focus on, or anything else that helps me capture the story of your wedding day in the most genuine way!
Make sure your photographer is local to you, so scheduling your session can be a breeze. If they’re not local, or if you’re having a destination wedding, ask them about any travel fees that might come with having an engagement session. If you have multiple outfits in mind, you might want to ask about what outfit changes are included!
Bridal sessions are typically pictures just of the bride, dressed just as she would be on her wedding day. These are taken a few weeks before the wedding, as soon as you have everything in your beauty arsenal planned. Your wedding hair and makeup, your bridal bouquet, mom’s earrings, your something blue, the works. The idea is to look exactly how you would look on your wedding day!
Having this session in your wedding photography package gives them time to get all the important details, such as getting shots of your dress, your invites, or other sentimental pieces. A bridal session also gives you a chance to practice posing in front of the camera and having fun with it!
When you come to your bridal session, make sure you bring all the details you would traditionally have the morning of your wedding. The more detail shots your wedding photographer can get at your bridal session, the less time they need the morning of your wedding. These are your princess pics. We get you as the bride in these photos so that way on your wedding day, you can relax and enjoy the time with your fiancée without worrying about setting aside time to ditch them to take photos.
Some brides, especially in the South or the Midwest, also follow the tradition of blowing up their favorite bridal portrait on a huge canvas at the entrance to their reception! Many brides will choose to use their hair and makeup trial for their bridal session so they can really make the most out of this time.
You can also choose to have your fiancée come to your bridal session, so you can have a first look moment before the wedding. Plus, you’ll have even more posed portraits to frame. Depending on how far in advance you have this pre-wedding photo session, this could also mean you have your gallery back before you get married! So you can start posting professional photos on social media right away! No one will know that your bridal photos weren’t taken on your actual wedding day.
The meat of all wedding photography packages! Hours of coverage refers to the length of time the photographer will spend at your wedding on your big day (this includes travel time if you have multiple locations!) These hours are usually consecutively priced, meaning you’re scheduling them for a single block of time.
You want enough hours of coverage to be able to capture getting ready photos, ceremony, and part of your reception. Your hours of coverage might be different from other couple’s, because everyone has different needs. Some couples only want the most important ceremony moments photographed, while some want full coverage from beginning to end.
The best way to determine the number of hours you need is by creating a rough itinerary first before hiring any wedding vendors (including photographers). If you need help deciding whether your need additional hours of photography coverage in your package, you can check out this post I’ve written on photography timelines.
Wedding photos preserve every detail, every decoration, but most importantly they preserve the emotion of the moment. You forever get to look back and see the candid photos from when you kissed your fiancée with a mouth full of cake, or when your Dad started tearing up as he danced with you. All the happy faces who came to celebrate you. The main thing I can say about wedding photos is to always plan buffer time! The more wiggle room you can give yourself, the more relaxed you’ll feel.
Second shooters assist the main photographer, helping to get the shot from every angle. They’re particularly helpful for wedding day tasks like getting group photos of your family, or taking photos of small details that you don’t want to miss (like your bouquet). The second shooter will also be able to capture more candid shots since two areas can be covered at once.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to get a second photographer, here are some things to consider:
A second photographer can help the lead photographer capture more angles and perspectives, which means that you’ll have more photos with more variety at the end of the day. It also makes it easier for them to ensure that they aren’t missing anything important, because they can divide and conquer—one person focuses on capturing the bridal party getting ready, while the other focuses on capturing details like rings and bouquets.
But what’s even better than getting more photos? Getting someone who can help make sure your wedding day runs smoothly! A second photographer is there as an assistant when things start to get hectic, so they can take some of the pressure off of your main photographer. They can also act as a handler in case there are any issues with guests or vendors. A second shooter is such popular option that some wedding photographers will not allow you to book a wedding photography package without them!
Once your wedding pictures are ready, you’ll have the opportunity to choose how you want to display them. The most common options in wedding photography packages include prints, canvases and albums. Remember, these aren’t just random selfies! These are incredible pieces of fine art from the most special event of your life. You don’t want them to get lost in your photos folder on your phone! You want to display them in a meaningful way.
Prints are great for decorating your home after the wedding. They’re also a great way to say thanks to family members who helped out on your special day by giving them special copies of their favorite photos (and maybe even a mini wedding album of their own).
Canvases or large posters can be hung in common areas at weddings—the lobby as guests arrive; above tables at a reception; or in a dressing room at a bridal shop. They make excellent centerpieces too! If you have a large empty wall in your home that would be the right place for a photo display, you might consider decorating with canvases there instead of prints.
When it comes to wedding photography, an album is one of the most important parts of your package. A wedding album isn’t just a photo book — it’s a family heirloom that you can pass down through the generations. It’s not going anywhere, and it will be with you for years to come.
Why are albums so important? Because technology changes, but an album doesn’t. You’ll always have it there to look back on when you’re feeling nostalgic or just want to dive into the memory of your wedding day. You’ll always know that your wedding album will be there waiting for you!
A photo album is perfect for parents and grandparents, who might not be able to attend your wedding but would love something more tangible than digital files stored on an iPad or phone anyway!
Most wedding photographers include digital galleries in their wedding photography packages. But you’ll want to check with your photographer to make sure that’s included, and what they’re including.
Some photographers offer digital galleries with a limited number of photos (like 100), while others will have unlimited access to your entire wedding gallery. Some photographers will offer basic editing on the photos, while others won’t touch them at all. Both packages could work, but you may want to ask about these things before you sign on the dotted line.
When you’re deciding on wedding packages, it’s important to consider whether or not you want to purchase prints directly from your photographer. If you don’t, make sure that your photographer includes the high resolution files and print release in your package—that way you can get them from anywhere else if you don’t want to use your photographer in the future. If you don’t get a digital images included in your package, you might want to consider buying digitals separately when ordering prints for yourself or friends and family members (as long as your photographer offers digital sales!)
It’s important to talk about how the pricing of wedding photography packages can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, like how many years of experience a photographer has, whether they’re offering any additional services, or how closely they work with you throughout the process. Many photographers might have higher prices based on their experience level, which could mean they have better equipment or are more familiar with dealing with difficult situations that might arise at a wedding.
It is rare that I see photo booths or videography included in wedding photography packages, but that doesn’t mean you have to give them up! If a video package is something that you’re interested in, ask your photographer. Even if they don’t offer it themselves, they may be able to point you to a videographer they recommend.
You may find a wedding photography package that already includes everything you’re looking for, but don’t be afraid to ask your photographer if they can create a custom package for you! You may be able to add additional services a la carte to an existing package. The perfect photographer is waiting for you!
It can be difficult deciding where you put your priorities when it comes to your wedding day, but I encourage you to look at the “big picture” (haha, get it?). The most important thing is you and your fiancée! Whatever fits your needs, whatever fits the priorities that you two have decided on is going to be the best thing for you. The best way to do that? Look at all the different wedding photography packages available, and talk with a professional photographer who can help you find the right fit for your wedding.
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