Until recently, many people made the assumption that when they chose a wedding photographer; they were choosing a (singular) wedding photographer.  Now, however, many companies are offering more than one photographer, leaving many couples wondering if one photographer is enough or if they need two.

First things first: look at your photographer’s portfolio.  Ask to see a complete wedding they shot by themselves. Do you like their images? Do you feel they captured the story of the day?  If so, assuming your wedding is a similar size, one photographer is probably enough for you.

Are you and your fiance(e) getting ready in the same place or different places?  One of the advantages of having two photographers is that if you are at two different locations, one of the photographers can go to the location where the bride is and the other can go to the location where the groom is.  If you are getting ready in the same location or very close to each other, often one photographer will be able to cover both scenes if enough time is allotted.

Bride and groom getting ready

How many guests are you having at your wedding?  If you are having a large wedding (over 150) you will probably want to consider having more than one photographer, so you can get lots of candid images of your guests as well as photos of yourselves.  That being said, if you are on a budget, it is always better to have one good photographer than two bad ones, no matter how many guests you are having!

If you are having a wedding of under 80 guests, one photographer is probably enough as your guests would notice that additional photographer a little more and may shy away from the camera.  For weddings with between 80-150 guests, you could go either way.

Credit Valley Golf Club wedding, family portrait

The above photo shows the families of the bride and groom, not including many of their other guests.  They had two photographers.

Another advantage of having two photographers is that they will be able to capture different angles and different expressions. For instance, when photographing a ceremony with only one photographer, I can capture the walk down the aisle from both the front and the back, but I can only capture the arrival to the groom from the back, not the front.  If I have a second photographer, however, one of us can capture the bride’s arrival from the front (to see her expression), while the other can capture the hug from the back (to see dad and the groom’s expression).
Bride coming down the altar and groom at the altar
Most couples will allow an hour or two for family/bridal party and formal portraits of the two of them.   At this time, guests often go inside the venue to enjoy appetizers and cocktails.  If you have two photographers, one of them will be able to capture the family portraits while the other one takes candid images of the guests and the table settings and decorations (though this can still be achieved if time is allotted with one photographer).

Bridesmaids and table setting

During the reception, two photographers especially come in handy if you would like photos of each table, so one photographer can capture half the tables and the other can capture the other half more quickly, to allow more time for candid images.  Two photographers also comes in handy for the garter belt toss, bridal bouquet toss and first dance where they can capture different angles and different expressions on different people.   Sometimes you can hire two photographers until the start of the reception and then have only one photographer for the rest of the evening.

Funny photos from the reception

Most importantly, if you are going to have two photographers, ask your main photographer how they find their second photographers.  Some companies will have one very experienced main photographer and a newcomer acting as the second photographer.  At Rabbat Photography, we all photograph weddings both as primary and second shooters, so you are getting two photographers who are qualified to photograph a wedding on their own.

Are you still trying to figure out what is right for you and your wedding?

To summarize:

1. How big is your wedding? If under 80 one photographer is generally enough, if over 150 it would be wise to think about having two photographers.  However, if you are on a budget, keep in mind that it is always better to have one good photographer than two bad ones.

2. What are the most important photos to you? If you want the photographer to mainly capture images of you and the bridal party, one photographer is probably enough.  If you want your photographer to capture images of the bridal party as well as lots of candids of the guests, you will get a lot more of the latter with two photographers.  You will, however, still get many candids with only one photographer (just not AS many!).

3. Where are you getting ready?  If you are getting ready in different locations and would like images of both of you getting ready, one person can only be in one location at a time, two can be in two different places.

4. Is one angle enough for you?  Oftentimes, one angle can be enough to tell the story.  Is that what you want or would you prefer two different angles?

5. How is your day structured? If you allowed lots of time between different events, one photographer could likely do a fine job capturing the different parts of the day.  If, on the other hand time is tight, two photographers will best make sure that all aspects of your wedding day are beautifully captured.