Photographer Questions/Timeline

Hi Everyone!
So got engaged a few months ago and am trying to get this shin-dig planned! :) I have my venue (Taber Ranch!) <3, close to getting my caterer, although I'm totally up for referrals if you have any. I am CLOSE to booking Anita Martin. I've seen her work and think it all looks great.
I'm hoping you all can give me some more insight/reassurance/guidance on this decision. I want to make sure I have the best my budget allows. I started my photography budget at $2k. Although I'd like to stay there, I think I'm comfortable going to $2,500. Please tell me if you think she's the best of the best and if not, who is?? I want it all in that package. The 8 hours or so of wedding coverage, engagement session, the disc of images of course, and maybe an extra thrown in like a guest book or large framed picture.
Also, if my ceremony is at 5pm. What time should my photographer be at the ceremony site to start shooting the bridal party getting ready, the group, etc. And, how long should I have the photographer there throughout the reception? Is it important they stay til the end or is that completely unneccessary?
Sorry for the long post... but I need some help making decision!! :)

Thank you all so much!

Re: Photographer Questions/Timeline

  • If she's offering you that package around your budgets, that's a good price for this area.

    You should ask your photographer what time she should get there before your ceremony, after informing her about your first look (or not) plans and the size of your bridal party.

    Unless you're doing a big exit, it's not usually necessary for the photographer to stay to the very end, just until the last thing on your timeline (first dance, cake-cutting, garter toss - whatever's last).
  • I did ask my photographer what time she would need to be there and what time she'd leave for all that I wanted to get pics of. I want a few getting ready pics, mostly getting in my dress and some of the girls. Of course wedding party formals, me with my fiance, family, etc. No first look though.
    I do want the highlights of course: first dance, father-daughter, cake, garter, flower toss, etc. I just dont want her to miss anything if she leaves too early.
    My ceremony is at 5. She told me she would want to be there at 2 to get shots of the girls getting ready, on up to about 9pm. My reception ends at 11. She did offer an 8 hour package also so she could be there from 2 til 10. She said I should be gettiing in my dress at 3. DOes that sound right?
  • If your reception is scheduled to end at 11, you should have all those photo ops done by 10pm.

    It was frustrating and surprising to me how photographers wanted to discuss the day-of timeline 13 months before my wedding. Left to my own devices, I would decide on the wedding day whether to do the garter toss before or after the bouquet. Now I was being asked to have all that figured out 13 months early.

    I got nervous for a few days, then realized: I'm paying the photographer tons of money. He works for me. I do not need to adjust my timeline, whether that's my planning timeline or the event timeline, for him, as long as I'm content with the consequences. (Example: If I have an 8-hour package and want reception photos going late, I'll get fewer getting-ready photos.)

    All of which is to say, your photographer has probably told you a typical timeline for what she considers a typical wedding. But she doesn't know you or your wedding well. You may not really have your wedding all figured out, either, and that's OK. So no one can tell you if your photographer is "right" regarding YOUR timeline.

    I would tell the photographer: "We want 8 hours, but we're not sure if we want 1pm to 9pm, or 3pm to 11pm, or something in between. We will let you know by X date." X can be about a month before the wedding. Your photographer won't have another professional appointment that day, so she can be flexible by a few hours.

    NB: 1) Photography isn't very important to us, so we were unwilling to arrange anything just to get great photos. Time with our family and friends was more important. You may have other priorities. 2) OTOH, it wasn't all that hard to write the day-of timeline, after I'd mulled over some of the factors. (Example: Our guests have to go to work the next day, so we're doing the big events early in the reception. I don't like toasts after dinner. I prefer them before.) So you may not have to wait several months to give vendors your day-of timeline.
  • Ya I guess I could make sure that once I book her, that I can decide on exact hours later on. I just have so much going on that trying to figure out my wedding photography timeline 8 months prior to my wedding... is just a bit much. I have no idea. It just makes me nervous to sign a contract and have her say no changes. Just wanted to get opinions on the length of time. I too, think 8 hours is plenty. I hope so anyways! I dont want to pay more. PHotography is VERY important to me. I want to have amazing pictures and not some amateur that doesn't know what they are doing.
    Thank you so much for your help! It is much appreciated!
  • Personally, I wouldn't want to work with someone who made you decide 1-9pm or 2-10p or 3-11p eight months in advance. Even if photography is important to you, you personally are more important than the photos, and your photographer should give you some flexibility.

    I think one contract we reviewed stated the exact times. We'd have to put something else in writing about how the time were flexible. Another contract just said "8 hours on date" maybe "from approximately A hour to B hour." The photographer we're actually using doesn't have a time limit and chose himself to arrive an hour before we suggested.
  • I would've preferred unlimited coverage because the timeline does stress me out and that's the last thing I want to worry about come wedding day. But I think this photography is pretty awesome and I'm trusting that with her experience, she knows how long to be there. I guess if worse comes to worse, I could always ask her to stay later if I feel she hasn't gotten the whole thing on film yet and just pay her extra the day of. I'll just play it by ear and hope it all falls into place!
    Who is the photographer you are using for your wedding?
  • Paul Schwarzenfeld. Found him through Yelp. He's new to the area and not the typical wedding vendor bubbly. We liked that, as we are not bubbly people.
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