What’s “NORMAL” when it comes to weddings?
I get asked this all the time by my wedding clients. They’re planning this big event, likely the biggest party they’ll plan. Ever. They are conscious of budget, trends, but being unique, wanting to have a good time, keep their guests having fun and still have a healthy respect for what the event should accomplish: a ceremony of commitment between two people.
The best thing you can do is hire awesome people to execute your vision. I can help!
What was normal in 2016 for my weddings. I’ll tell you:
1. 2016 Weddings
This year I had the pleasure of photographing 27 great weddings all over New England. From Troy, NH to Newport, Rhode Island. Out to Western Mass a couple times and as far as Lake George, NY.
22 out of these 27 took place in Massachusetts (it’s a great state, isn’t it?)
2. Small Weddings
Four of those 27 weddings were “smaller”. Ranging from elopements to small & larger gatherings with a 1.5-4 hour schedule. We focused our time on the ceremony and some time for portraits.
I’ll define regular as, having a +5 hour schedule that includes: getting ready, ceremony & reception in some fashion.
3. Word of Mouth
Out of those 27 weddings, 13 of those clients were referred to me by a former client, high school classmate, fellow wedding vendor, etc… I think it’s just so fantastic that word of mouth is such a strong part of my business. I believe in karma. If I put good in, I’ll get good out and good will come back to me the next year.
The other 14 clients found me because of an online review or google search.
4. Average Hours of Coverage
My standard wedding packages start with 6 hours of coverage but every wedding is different and I can help determine a good start & end time. When I ran the numbers on my 2016 weddings (regular sized) which ranged from 6-9 coverage hours in length, 7.67 was the precise average.
5. Images Per Hour
If you read my frequently asked questions you’ll see that I estimate that I deliver about 75 images per hour of coverage. In actuality the average across all 27 weddings was 126 images per hour of coverage. I am happy to give people more than they expect. I focus on editing down for quality images first. This number can vary for many, many reasons:
- Is there a second shooter?
- How much traveling are we doing during the day?
- How many guests are attending?
- How fierce/raucous/rowdy/packed is the dancefloor?
- Is there a photobooth included? (the numbers above include photobooth pictures, which can increase the numbers)
- Big wedding party?
- Lots of events planned?
6. Does Coverage Go Till The End?
At 1/5 of the weddings this year I was there till the last dance / send off. When I’m working with my clients to decide when to start and end coverage, it’s not always a priority to have photography go till the end.
Are you planning an epic Bon Jovi Last Dance? Do you have a sparkler send off planned? Hopping in your getaway car? Then YES, we’ll want to figure out a way for coverage to go till the end.
7. Practice Shoots
In 2016 I shot 16 Practice Shoots! READ THIS if you want to know WHY they’re important. I certainly don’t require them BUT for the past few years I’ve had most of my regular wedding clients doing them. Huge confidence builder!
Sometimes I’ll use it as a venue visit as I did with three of these. Was I going to turn down a private after hours tour of Fenway Park??
8. Wedding Party
I was really curious to compare data for wedding party sizes. This is probably the single biggest place I see couples feel pressured to fit into normalcy. Don’t bother. These people will be in a lot of photos with you. Be picky. Make sure they’ll go the distance with you, just like the future Mr/Mrs.
Average Wedding Party Size: 8.5 people
- Some weddings had no wedding party.
- Some couples simply had a Best Man & Maid of Honor.
- Wedding parties sometimes had non symmetrical numbers of bridemaids & groomsmen (don’t worry it doesn’t look weird in photos).
- I see guys supporting the bride, women supporting the groom.
- Instead of bridesmaids, sometimes it’s just friends with the bride before the ceremony but they don’t wear any special coordinating dress.
- I see wedding parties that were exclusively family members.
- I had an 18 person wedding party.
- In two weddings, the grooms had their Dads as their Best Men.
- One wedding had a dog as a ring bearer!
9. First Look:
Should you two see each other before the ceremony? Totally your choice. Depending on the logistics of your day it could help the flow, momentum or getting you off to enjoy cocktail hour. BUT if tradition rules supreme then plenty of people choose to have that first moment happen at the ceremony.
63% of 2016 wedding couples saw each other before the ceremony.
10. Bouquet Tossing:
Do you want to do it? Or do you feel like the tradition isn’t for you? If you think it’ll be fun, rock it. Garter Toss and the shenanigans that happen after are also optional.
Four of this year’s weddings tossed a bouquet.
11. Cake Cutting:
Again, you don’t have to do anything during your wedding day you don’t want to do. If you’d rather a low key cake cutting moment, we can do it off to the side without the DJ announcing it.
20 of this year’s wedding couples cut the cake (and a few did a little cake smushing)
12. Church Ceremonies:
Where you get married is a big decision. Probably decided before you pick a photographer.
Six of my 2016 weddings had ceremonies in a church.
For most couple’s a fresh air ceremony is their plan A.
12. Second Shooter:
As a wedding day unfolds, it can make sense to double up coverage with a second photographer. They help to get photos at a separate location while the groom gets ready or see little moments that are happening during the big ones.
Half of my 2016 weddings had a second shooter.
Forget about what someone else considers “normal”. Instead:
- Have a daytime wedding
- Elope (bring along a photographer so you can share what happened)
- Don’t have a wedding party
- Throw a bouquet if you want
- Serve pie
- Bring your pets with you
- Have a wedding ceremony in your living room