Hiring a photographer to cover your big day is one of the most crucial parts of your wedding planning process. Without someone to take the perfect pictures, you’ll have nothing to look back on years later.

But making the perfect photography arrangements isn’t as easy as one might think. 

Classic High-End Reception
Example of a beautiful, empty ceremony taken by a second photographer

It’s difficult enough finding the perfect photographer. But then your friend mentions how they had two photographers at their wedding and pesters you to do the same. 

Sure, having a second wedding photographer can really spruce up your final wedding album. But doing so is not always necessary. 

But before you take the plunge, ask yourself this: “do I really need a second wedding photographer?”

If you’re lost for answers, this post will help you decide whether you need to say “I do” or leave the idea of a second photographer at the altar. 

The Role of a Second Wedding Photographer 

A second wedding photographer might have different responsibilities than the primary photographer. But that doesn’t make their job any easier or less significant. 

In fact, secondary wedding photographers have a ton of responsibilities, especially during the first four hours of the wedding ceremony. During this time, secondary photographers can head on over to the groom’s side while the primary photographer photographs the bride. 

Second Wedding Photographer for groom
Best man makes the final adjustments for the groom while getting ready

But it doesn’t end there. Throughout the entire wedding, the secondary photographers are also responsible for: 

  • Capturing the wide shots while the primary photographer focuses on portraits 
  • Photographing the empty ceremony while the bride gets ready
  • Photographing the empty reception while the primary photographer handles the formal portraits
  • Assisting the primary photographer with logistical things such as managing camera equipment or setting up lights
  • Helping set up the frame for formal portraits 
  • Capturing guest interactions and candid photos

However, secondary wedding photographers aren’t just there to assist the primary photographer. On the contrary, secondary shooters play an integral and unique role in wedding photography; they capture moments that the primary photographer would have otherwise missed. 

5 Reasons Why You Need a Second Wedding Photographer

While a single wedding photographer can capture all the essential moments, hiring a second photographer will help string together a detailed and intimate story of your big day. Here’s how! 

By Capturing Different Angles of the Same Scene

You know how they say that there are always two sides to a story? Well, in the case of a wedding, there are well over a hundred different sides. 

Let’s say that the procession concludes with the couple sharing their first kiss as newlyweds. Now, this is one of the most important and memorable moments that wedding photographers must capture. 

But wait, what about the parents of the bride and groom? And what about their friends and family? Photographing the groom, the family’s, and everyone else’s reaction to the wedding kiss will add a greater sentiment behind that one moment. 

Grooms Reaction to The Bride
The groom cries as his bride is escorted down the aisle

The same goes for the entire ceremony and reception. Usually, the secondary photographer shoots the groom’s getting ready, and, as the groom and groomsmen typically finish more quickly than the bridal party; this allows the secondary shooter to capture perfect memories of the untouched empty ceremony before it begins to fill in with guests.

Beach-side Empty Ceremony
A secondary photographer captures the beach-y empty ceremony before guests arrive

While the primary photographer is preoccupied with the bride and groom, the secondary shooter can focus on the family, friends, and other guests.  

By Photographing Both the Bride And Groom 

A wedding involves two people, two families, and two sets of guests. It only makes sense, then, that you hire two wedding photographers. 

Black Tie Bridal Party
Primary photographer shoots the bridal party while the secondary photographer captures the empty reception.

A second wedding photographer comes in handy, especially when the bride and groom are getting ready in different locations. While the primary photographer stays with the bride, the secondary photographer can head on over to the groom. 

Bride Steps Into Her Wedding Dress
A bride puts the finishing touches on her look: as captured by a two-person photography team

Similarly, having two photographers ensures that you are capturing important moments, such as the bride walking down the aisle or the couple reading their vows, from both perspectives. 

By Covering Large Venues

As much as wedding photographers would love to be in two places at one time, it’s simply against the laws of physics. 

Naturally, just one wedding photographer can only do so much in a large wedding venue with a large guest list. As a result, many important moments go by unphotographed. 

But while scientists figure out teleportation and cloning, there is a simpler solution: hiring a second wedding photographer. 

If you have an exceptionally large wedding venue, hiring two photographers becomes a necessity. In this way, the primary and secondary wedding photographers can document each and every important moment. 

By Saving Precious Time

When it comes to your wedding day, time is of the essence. From the getting ready phase to the reception, everything needs to happen right on cue (lest your wedding planner flips out). 

Luckily, two wedding photographers can make sure that each event flows into the next without any delay. 

By Photographing the Empty Ceremony And Reception 

You spent so much time, money, and energy in creating the perfect setting for your big day, so much so that it deserves its own slot in your wedding album. 

Elegant Soft-Lighting Empty Reception
Elegant evening empty reception captured by a secondary photographer before the guests arrive

But between the portraits and the getting-ready photographs, it’s difficult to photograph the empty venue before guests start piling in. 

Fortunately, a second wedding photographer can head on over to the empty ceremony and reception area and get a few shots of the beautiful decor. 

The Downside of Having a Second Wedding Photographer

Many primary wedding photographers will actually advise against hiring a second wedding photographer, and here’s why. 

It Costs More

In most cases, the second shooter is often an aspiring wedding photographer who is looking for a little bit of experience. 

With that in mind, you would think that it would actually cost less to hire a second photographer, right? 

But you see, just because the second shooter is a novice doesn’t mean you can scam them for their services. You’ll find that most secondary shooters really know their stuff, and you will need to pay them accordingly. 

Sure, they won’t charge as much as the primary photographer. Still, you can expect to pay anything between $30 to $100 per hour. When you add it all up, your wedding budget ends up taking quite the hit. 

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup

Or, in this case, too many photographers ruin the wedding album. 

As we discussed earlier, the secondary shooter is usually an aspiring wedding photographer. While they are undoubtedly handy with a camera, there is no guarantee that the secondary shooter will have the same stylistic preferences as the primary shooter and vice versa. 

Even if the secondary shooter has previous experience with wedding photography, stylistic inconsistencies will always arise. This is because no two photographers have the same shooting style. 

Once it all comes together, the wedding album will be an amalgamation of mismatched and inconsistent photos as opposed to a harmonious, coherent story. 

More Photos Aren’t Always a Good Thing

Less isn’t always more, but more isn’t always better either. 

Understandably, you want as many photographs of your wedding to commemorate your big day. After all, you have invested so much into planning the wedding of your dreams. Why should you let a single moment go unphotographed? 

But remember: when it comes to your wedding photographs, quality should always overrule quantity. 

Some couples end up with nearly a thousand photographs of their wedding. But what’s the point? I mean, can you seriously imagine yourself flicking through hundreds of photos and being equally as excited for all of them? 

A Photographer’s Entourage 

What’s one more photographer when you have nearly a hundred people at your wedding? Well, sometimes they’re an intrusion. 

In addition to your primary photographer, a secondary photographer, as well as an entourage of videographers might crowd your venue. Not only that, but they can end up getting in each other’s way, especially if the venue is small. 

Worse still, a mob of photographers and videographers can feel intrusive for you and your guests. 

Of course, good coordination and pre-planning will ensure that the photographers are virtually invisible— just how it should be. 

When You Should Have a Single Wedding Photographer 

Sometimes, a solo photographer is not only enough but also much more practical. You should stick to hiring a single wedding photographer if: 

  • The venue is relatively small. 
  • The guest list is small and intimate. 
  • The bride and groom are getting ready in the same location. 

In the scenarios mentioned above, hiring a second wedding photographer is unnecessary, redundant, and a potential recipe for disaster. 

Should You Have One or Two Videographers for Your Wedding? 

Wedding photographs only capture snippets of your big day. But it’s the wedding video that actually narrates the epic tale of your union. 

Bride Walking Aisle
Bride captured by a second photographer as she walks the aisle in her processional

Hence, the same question arises: do you need two videographers for your wedding? 

Luckily, the answer is almost the same as well; if you have a large venue with 100+ guests, or you want more angles of the same scenario, then you absolutely do need more than one videographer. 


When you dig out your wedding album and flick through the pictures years after your actual wedding, you should feel as if you’re reliving your big day. 

But your wedding album can only be as good as your wedding photographer. And sometimes, a single photographer simply isn’t enough. 

Secondary wedding photographers take some of the burden off the primary photographer, especially during the first four hours of the event. 

But when it comes down to it, no one really “needs” a second wedding photographer. On the contrary, it’s all about what you think will make your wedding unforgettable.