Should my wedding photographer stay after the first dance?

You’re planning your wedding! How fun, exciting and slightly scary at times. It’s all good. When it comes to looking for a wedding photographer and planning how to cover the day, many couples want to know what will be covered, how long the photographer will be there and when they plan on leaving.

Depending on what wedding photography package you’ve booked, your photographer will usually be there with you for a set number of hours. And when you start looking at your wedding day’s itinerary, including early preparations, you’ll easily find this can easily stretch to 10, 12 or even 16 hours!

That’s a very long day, and most human photographers (as opposed to robotographers) won’t be able to keep working and taking photos for so long. At least not good photos.

The last part of your wedding day, and the one when most photographers leave, is the wedding dances. Most photographers covering a full day will leave after your first dance has started, so they won’t be around to capture everyone dancing as the party gets heated.

Is this OK? Are you missing out on much? Should you find a wedding photographer with SUPER-HUMAN powers that can stay with you for 18 hours? Should you just ask them to come later, miss your preparation shots but instead gain some photos of crazy dancing and epic fun?

Answers to all these questions and more below.

Quick links to wedding photographers

If you’re looking for a local wedding photographer to cover your big day, here are some links to help you find one.

Why most wedding photographers leave after the first dance

Wedding photography in Kent
Wedding dance photography by Anthony Chan

A full-day wedding is a long and intensive event for a photographer to cover. Some photographers also travel quite far to and from the wedding venue. They’re on their feet all day, carrying equipment and working hard to get you the most amazing photos you could ask for.

It’s fun, and most wedding photographers really enjoy their work, but it’s also exhausting.

The buck has to stop somewhere, and the first wedding dance is usually considered the standard timing when a wedding photographer’s job is done. And there are some good reasons behind this.

Photographing people dancing is not easy. While you’re all on the dance floor, feeling the groove and busting a move, it feels great. But when the camera freezes you mid-move, it doesn’t always look like that music video you’d imagine.

When photographers go through and edit dance photos, many have people with their backs to the camera in odd positions, and the photos don’t look that flattering. Most dance photos don’t come out great, and it takes many, many clicks to get a keeper.

First dance wedding photography
Capturing the first dance perfectly. Photo by AlexArts, a wedding photographer based in Kent.

Plus, it’s been a long day for you and your guests. You might have had a drink or two, right? People might not be looking their best at this stage. Add a bit of sweat to the mix, difficult disco lighting, smoke machines and lots of movement, and you’ve got a recipe for disastergraphy. You get the picture.

So that is why most wedding photographers clock in after the first dance, pack their cameras, loosen their ties and hit the gravel.

Why some wedding photographers stay late into the party

Wedding dancing photography in Kent
Twistin’ the night away. Photo by Anthony Chan.

Some weddings are all about the crazy partying at the very end. It’s what makes them special. It’s those moments when everyone has loosened up and let their guard down. It’s when the fun begins, some of the guests leave, and the hardcore partiers come to life.

Event & Wedding Photographer Hockley Essex
Candid wedding party photography by Essex based wedding photographer Grant King.

If you’re one of those couples, you’ll know it’s you and your mates. You don’t have to have a photographer follow you around to have a good time, but it can be nice to look at photos and remember those moments… which might be hard to remember.

End of the wedding day photos are raw. If you like your control and keeping a straight look, these might not be your favourites. But if you appreciate some pure emotion and passion at the expense of looking perfect, then you might just love those quirky photos.

So if you know this is an important part of the day for you, maybe you can get your wedding photographer to start the day a bit later and then stay a bit later with you. Maybe you don’t need prep shots and prefer party photos instead?

You might also have some special surprises planned for late in the night, and you want to have them documented. If this all sounds like you, then speak with your wedding photographer about it.

Some photographers stay very long hours on a wedding day. It’s hard to sustain that and shoot weddings regularly, and you have to have super stamina to do it. So if you know you want someone for so long, try booking one of these super-human wedding photographers to cover you for an extended day. It usually costs more and can be done with the help of a 2nd shooter too.

Wedding party photos, to click or not to click

Wedding party dancing photograph in Kent
Capturing those unforgettable (or maybe not) moments. Photo by Anthony Chan.

So that is it. It’s why most don’t, but some do. And what’s right for you? That you will have to figure out and decide if it’s worth the extra effort to capture you dancing late into the night.

We hope you have an amazing wedding day with some remarkable photos to remind you of these sweet, sweet moments for the rest of your life. If you’re looking a top wedding photographer, we’ve got plenty on our platform. They’re nice folk too! So feel free to reach out to them and ask away, and maybe you’ll find a photographer that will capture those moments for you.

Wishing you the best