So you’ve finally made your grand exit after an absolutely gorgeous wedding day, and if you’re like most couples, this was probably one of the happiest experiences of your life!
With the laughs shared, time spent with friends and family, and exchanging vows with your soulmate, you’ll most likely spend the next few weeks wishing that you could turn back time and relive those moments all over again.
Thankfully, you do get to hold onto a few mementos from your big day: the wedding dress, the rings, and most importantly, your precious memories captured by a phenomenal photographer!
In fact, you’re probably counting down the days until you can get your hands on those stunning photos right now.
While all photographers have a different turnaround time based on the services that they provide, there is a general timeline that should give you an idea of when to expect your photos.
Keep reading to get a complete guide on how long it takes to get wedding photos back.
How Long Does It Take To Edit Wedding Photos?
Editing wedding photos can be a strenuous and time-consuming process, especially if your photographer is committed to providing you with the highest quality images.
Depending on the experience level of your photographer, it typically takes 3 to 12 weeks to edit an entire gallery of wedding photos.
During your event, photographers take raw—or unedited—photos with their camera(s), then later upload the files to a computer to begin the editing process.
Photographers edit using a few different criteria, including color balance, lighting, and focus to turn a raw file into a professional finished product.
One of the most important parts of the editing process is creating a sense of consistency throughout the gallery as a whole.
The photographer takes photos that were potentially shot in different locations, times, and lighting areas, and carefully edits them to tell a cohesive story that captures all of the beauty of your special day.
Do Wedding Photographers Edit All Photos?
Before wedding photographers can even begin the editing process, they must review all of the images taken during your wedding day to determine which shots to include in their delivery.
While photographers may take hundreds of photos during your event, you should not expect to receive every photo in the final gallery.
There are several reasons that a particular photo was not selected for delivery, including poor lighting, excessive blur, and unflattering positions or facial expressions among the photo subjects.
A seasoned wedding vendor will weed out undesirable images to create a polished gallery of frame-worthy wedding photos.
While this is the general rule, you should make it a point to communicate with your photographer if there are specific images that you would love to see included in the final delivery.
The right photographer will take your request into account and make a clear effort to provide you with the images that are most important to your love story.
How Will My Wedding Photos Be Delivered?
Once the meticulous editing process has been taken care of, your breathtaking photos are ready to be delivered to you.
Most photographers like to be consistent in the way that they present galleries to their couples, so it’s a good idea to discuss their preferred delivery method early on.
The photographer may provide you with a flash drive containing your fully-edited gallery, either by mail or in person. They may also choose to share the images with you through G-Suite products, such as Google Photos or Google Drive.
If you prefer the old-fashioned look, you will want to go with a photographer who can provide physical wedding albums. There’s just something about receiving printed images of your big day that will bring tears to your eyes in a matter of seconds.
Will I Get a Sneak Peek?
While this practice is not used across the board, many photographers are kind enough to offer excited newlyweds a small preview of their beautiful wedding photos.
In these pre-deliveries, you will receive a handful of images from your special day that gives you an idea of all the sweet memories to come.
If you can’t wait to get a look at those gorgeous wedding party photos, be sure to let your photographer know just how much you’d appreciate a sneak peek. Most photographers are happy to provide a mini-gallery for you at no additional cost.
Sneak peeks can include a wide variety of images, including candid moments, getting-ready shots, and bridal party photos.
While you will still have to wait at least three weeks to receive your full gallery, this should help you to reach that date with a little less stress and a little more peace of mind.
How Long Is Too Long?
As it was earlier stated, the expected time frame for a wedding photographer to deliver a full gallery is roughly 3-12 weeks. If your wedding pictures are taking longer than 12 weeks and you still haven’t received an update from your photographer, there may be cause for concern.
In general, a professional photographer should be clear about their timeline, communicating well in advance when you should expect to receive your gallery. If unfortunate circumstances cause a delay in the process, you can expect them to reach out with an updated delivery date.
Several things may cause the editing and delivery process to take longer than expected, so before going into a full-blown panic, you’ll want to take these into account.
Taking a look at the details regarding the season, location, and budget of your wedding can give you a better idea of why your photos may be taking “too long.”
What Causes a Delay in Photos?
It’s a hard truth, but someone’s gotta say it: not all weddings are created equal. While every ceremony is full of happy tears and special moments, there are some elements of your event that can extend your delivery date a bit further than you would like.
With incredible views, unique character, and diverse event spaces, destination weddings are a photographer’s dream. You can expect some of the best wedding photographs ever, although traveling from the wedding destination to their home base for editing can make the process take longer than expected.
If you held your celebration of love sometime between May and October—otherwise known as peak wedding season—your waiting period may be longer than the usual turnaround time.
This is where it pays to select a more experienced photographer who has the time management skills to juggle several delivery dates without falling behind.
What if the Photographer Is Taking Longer Than Usual?
At the end of the day, there’s one huge thing to remember in this process: communication is key. If your photos are not delivered within the 3-12 week range, feel free to reach out to your photographer and talk through any concerns that you may have.
Before booking a photographer, it’s a good idea to ask a bunch of questions about photo delivery methods and timelines so that you know what to expect.
Protip: work with a photographer who provides a detailed contract of services; this protects your interests and theirs!
Generally, phone calls may be more helpful than sending a text or email so that you can get all of your questions and concerns out in one go.
Trust me, the right photographer will make you feel heard, supported, and will go to great lengths to assure you that your precious memories are on the way.