How long does it take to get wedding photos back? (2021)

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Now that the wedding day is over, you’re probably really exited to see all of your wedding photos. You might be wondering when you will get to see all of the amazing photos that your photographer took.

This is what we will be covering in this article:

A funny wedding meme talking about photo editing. This is for the article how long does it take to get wedding photos back

How long does it take to get wedding photos back?

Wedding photographers typically deliver fully edited photo galleries 3-6 weeks after the wedding day. Many photographers send the couple 10-20 “sneak-peeks” or teaser photos to keep them happy while the rest of the photos are being edited.

We polled over 100 wedding photographers and over 100 married couples to find out the normal delivery times of wedding photos after the wedding day. The two different groups/polls matched up almost perfectly. Here is what we learned:

  • The average wedding photography contract stated that wedding photos would be delivered 6-8 weeks after the wedding date.
  • The average photo delivery time was closer to 3-6 weeks per wedding.
  • 70% of the couples received at least 10 sneak-peeks (teasers) 1-2 weeks after the wedding day.

Here are some of the most common questions that couples were asking in forums after the wedding day:

  • When should I expect my wedding photos?
  • How long is too long to wait for wedding photos?
  • How long do photographers take to edit wedding photos?
  • How long should it take a photographer to get pictures back?
  • How long is reasonable to wait for wedding photos?
  • How long does it take to get engagement photos back?

As you can see, it’s a topic that is frequently talked about after the wedding day.

As a wedding photographer, these are the questions that you do not want to be showing up in wedding forums.

Do you want to know the number 1 reason why these questions are asked so often after the wedding day?

Communication.

It all comes to down to communication.

Wedding photographers should communicate the delivery time very clearly.

And not just in the contract.

Many of these questions (and the stress that goes along with them) could be avoided by following this one simple tip:

The morning after the wedding, photographers should send the couple a nice email congratulating them and reminding them of the editing time.

Chances are, the couple does not remember what it says in the contract.

A simple email reminding them of the delivery time will remove all of the questions that the couple will most likely start having 1-2 weeks after the wedding date.

And a tip for couples:

If your photographer does not reach out, you should not hesitate in sending a polite email right after the wedding day asking them when you should expect the photos.

Here is a great way to word the email:

“Hi photographer!

Thank you so much for being a part of our wedding day!

I know you probably already told us, but the info got lost in the chaos of wedding planning.

Typically how long does it take to get the edited photos back?

No rush at all, I just wanted to know what to expect.

Thanks again!”

It’s short and to the point. It does not come off as pushy. and you will get the answer you are looking for right after the wedding day.

Communication will remove almost all stress.

A bride and groom at night. This is for the article called how long does it take to get wedding photos back from the photographer?
Photo taken by Thomas Beaman Photography

Other questions about wedding photos (Editing faq)

How many photos should a wedding photographer give you?

This will vary from photographer to photographer but out of the wedding photographers that we polled the average number of edited photos was 100 per hour of shooting.

So on average, 8 hours of wedding day coverage produced about 800 edited photos.

This is definitely a question you should ask your photographer ahead of time.

One thing to keep in mind is that all weddings are different.

A wedding with a large bridal party and more guests will typically result in more wedding photos than a wedding with a small wedding party and a lower number of guests.

Do wedding photographers edit every photo?

Most wedding photographers edit every single photo that will be delivered to the couple. This is normally included with your photography package.

Keep in mind that the word “editing” can mean different things to different people.

In most cases, edited photos are color corrected and adjusted for proper exposure and tone.

Typically “editing” does not mean removing skin blemishes, making arms look skinny, or removing unwanted items from the background. This is normally referred to as “retouching”.

Make sure you ask questions and clarify this with your photographer.

The last thing that a wedding photographer likes to hear on the wedding day is, “Oh, don’t worry, the photographer will probably just Photoshop that out”.

It’s not that easy. And if photo retouching is a service that they offer, it’s probably not included in the normal editing that comes with your photography package. Expect to pay for extra services like that.

Do wedding photographers give all photos that were taken?

Normally, wedding photographers cull the wedding photos and deliver only the “keepers”.

This is a good thing and it’s one of the reasons that you are hiring a professional photographer.

You do not want to have to go through thousands of photos trying to pick out which images are best.

Let your photographer do that job for you.

A bride and groom walking down the road at sunset.
Photo taken by MG Photography

Do photographers give unedited photos?

This depends on your photographer.

Some photographers are against giving out the RAW images. They only want you to have access to the finished product.

Other photographers sell their RAW files (digital negatives) to couples who want them.

There is no right or wrong answer.

If having the RAW, unedited photos is important to you, make sure you ask up front before signing a contract.

Most of the photographers who we talked to (who offer RAW unedited files) charge between $500-$1000 for these files.

Why does it take so long to get wedding photos back from the photographer?

There are a few reasons why it typically takes 3-6 weeks for a wedding photographer to deliver full galleries of edited wedding photos.

A funny meme talking about how long it takes to edit wedding photos.

This explains the entire wedding photography process really well:

Culling and curating the photos

The average wedding photographer (with a 2nd shooter) takes around 3500-6000 photos during an 8-10 hour wedding day. That is a lot of images to go through!

One of the reasons that you are hiring a professional photographer is to be the curator of awesome photos. Part of that process is culling through all of the photos and picking out the best images. The last thing that you want to do is to have to look through 1000’s of photos where guests have closed eyes or other awkward moments.

You might think that you want “all of the photos” but here is what we have found to be the truth.

When a couple is given all of the wedding photos (sometimes called a “shoot & burn” job), where the photographer takes 1000’s of photos and just hands all of the RAW unedited files to the couple, that couple is completely overwhelmed.

  • There might be 27 different photos of you walking down the aisle (photographers take that many to make sure they get a few that are absolutely perfect).
  • There might be 17 photos (that all look about the same) of each family photo (photographers take multiple photos during this time to make sure they have photos where everyone has the best expression and open eyes).
  • There might be 49 photos of your first dance (photographers take lots of photos during this time to capture the perfect images where your lips are not moving, eyes are not closed, and the light is falling on you in just the right spot).

We could go on but I think you get the point.

When a couple is handed all of the images, they are completely overwhelmed.

Instead of printing only the best photos, they don’t print anything.

One of the most important jobs of a wedding photographer is to cull/curate the best photos.

Editing each photo one at a time

Once the photos have been culled, it’s time to load them into a program like Adobe Lightroom and start the editing process.

This is where each wedding photographer is going to apply their own artistic magic.

Some photographers spend a lot of time on each image making sure that everything is perfect.

Once the photos have been edited, many photographers like to step away from the computer for a few days so that they can look at the photos again with fresh eyes.

They will go through the images again and make any necessary changes.

Multiple weddings, engagement sessions, and meetings

Another reason that wedding photos take a few weeks to edit is that the photographer most likely has multiple weddings per month that they are working on (plus all of the things required to run a business).

During wedding season the average workload of a wedding photographer might include the following each week:

  • Friday – Wedding #1 (12-14 hours including packing, travel, photographing, and downloading images).
  • Saturday – Wedding #2 (12-14 hours including packing, travel, photographing, and downloading images).
  • Sunday – Day off to spend with family.
  • Monday – Culling both weddings from the weekend (going through 6000-12000 images from the weekend can easily take the full day depending on their process).
  • Tuesday – Editing photos from weddings that took place 2-3 weeks ago (5-6 hours each day). Plus a meeting with a new couple (2 hours with travel and meeting time), and photographing an engagement session (4-5 hours with prep, travel, and photography time).
  • Wednesday – Editing photos from weddings that took place 2-3 weeks ago. Editing sneak-peeks from weddings that happened last week. Editing photos from an engagement session that took place 2-3 weeks ago.
  • Thursday – Editing, editing, editing. Charging batteries for the weddings coming up. Going over all of the wedding details for the weddings this weekend. Printing out the family photo lists and photo requests.
  • Friday – Repeat the week

Keep in mind that this schedule does not even mention all of the other things that the average wedding photographer is doing each week:

  • Responding to lots of emails, phone calls, and DMs.
  • Blogging and working on their website.
  • Baking up all of their hard drives and images onto multiple hard drives in multiple locations.
  • Marketing.
  • Sending photos from previous weddings to all of the different wedding vendors.
  • Taking photography classes working on their skills.
  • Cleaning their equipment.
A funny bride and groom

Two questions that you can ask your wedding photographer before signing a contract.

Before reading these questions and answers, please remember that there are no right or wrong answers. These questions are simply an easy way for you to get the information that you are looking for. Everyone will have their own level of “oh cool, that’s acceptable”

Here are a two easy questions to ask your potential wedding photographer:

How long will it take to get all of our wedding photos back?

Will you provide any sneak peaks (teasers, highlights, etc.)? If yes, typically when do you send those?

By asking these questions right from the start, you will know exactly what to expect.

How long does it take to get a wedding video back from your videographer?

We will be putting together a full article that covers wedding videos, but since this question comes up a lot, we wanted to answer it as best as we could.

We talked to over 40 wedding videographers and a 2-6 month delivery time was where about 90% of them fit in.

Check back in a few weeks to see the full article. If you have any specific questions that you want answered in the article, send a DM on Instagram (link below)

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