What’s “NORMAL” when it comes to weddings?
I get asked this all the time by my bride and groom clients. They’re planning this big event, possibly 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. Wedding planning is a complex and full time job indeed. And you’re probably doing it for the first time.
The best thing I can recommend is hire awesome people to execute your vision. I can help!
What was normal in 2013 for my couples. I’ll tell you:
1. 2013 Weddings
This year I had the pleasure of photographing 18 great weddings all over New England. From Portsmouth, NH to Newport, Rhode Island. Out to Western Mass and across the state on the Cape.
14 out of these 18 took place in Massachusetts.
2. 2013 Small Weddings
In addition to those “regular” sized weddings I photographed 5 other smaller weddings. Ranging from elopements to small & larger gatherings with a 2-3 hour schedule. We focused our time on the ceremony and some 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 23 weddings in 2013, 12 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 11 clients found me because of an online review or google search.
2014 so far has 15 weddings booked with 12 of those clients coming to me because of a word of mouth referral. I really like the way 2014 is shaping up.
4. Average Hours of Coverage
On average a “regular” size wedding runs 8 hours. When I ran the numbers on my weddings which ranged from 5-10 coverage hours in length, 8.05 was the precise average.
5. Images Per Hour
If you read my frequently asked questions you’ll see that I estimate that I deliver 75-100 images per hour of coverage. In actuality the average across all 23 weddings was 141.84 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:
- 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?
I covered the wedding dancefloor through till the last dance at 1/3 of our weddings this year. When I’m working with my clients to decide when to start and end coverage, it’s not always a priority to have the us stay till the end.
Are you planning an epic Bon Jovi Last Dance? Do you have a sparkler send off planned? Then YES, we’ll want to figure out a way for coverage to go till the end. This year I had 2 weddings (both outside of Massachusetts) have sparkler send offs – It. Was. Amazing.
7. Practice Shoots
All 18 regular weddings had a Practice Shoot <<<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 a 100% average in my regular wedding clients doing them. This one last winter included sledding, a little snowstorm and winter hats.
Three out of 18 Practice Shoots included dogs, but in previous years I’ve had cats. I’d welcome all sort of pets though! A few years back I photographed a pet hedgehog!
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.
- I saw a fair amount of weddings not have any 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 saw guys supporting the bride, women supporting the groom.
- I saw a team of friends with the bride before the ceremony but didn’t wear any special coordinating dress.
- I saw wedding parties that were exclusively family members.
- I had a 17 person wedding party.
- This year I saw 39% of those with wedding parties had their bridesmaids wear navy dresses.
- In 2 weddings, the groom had his Dad as his Best Man.
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 cocktail hour. BUT if tradition rules supreme then plenty of people choose to have that first moment happen at the ceremony.
68% of 2013 wedding couples saw each other before the ceremony. I also had a groom button his bride to be into her wedding dress, see for yourself. It was a unique moment.
This moment below is something I call a “No Look”. We arrange for the couple to have a moment to hold hands. A little hand squeeze and a hello can go a long way.
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.
26% 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 like a monster truck race.
74% of 2013 wedding couples cut the cake.
12. Church Ceremonies:
Where you get married is totally your choice. Probably decided before you pick a photographer.
37% of 2013 couples had weddings in a church.
I love a photobooth. I think it’s a great complement to reception coverage of people mingling and dancing. It’s a quick way to round up a small group of friends (maybe a big one) and get a photo. Good for those that won’t be busting moves all night. At my wedding we printed these photos and sent one along with everyone’s Thank You card.
42% of 2013 weddings had a photobooth at the reception.
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