Many photographers will give you a rate which includes from bridal prep until first dance. Then they pack up and go home.
That was always the industry rule and when you consider the photographer is 99% of the time, the longest working person on your day (12 hours working is quite common) you can see why they need to call it a day before it gets too late.
But at my own wedding, I heard stories from the party that I had no idea happened… Someone danced in the fountain in the gardens and not one camera phone caught it. I also missed some guests having a dance off and the camera phones were out, but they couldn’t capture the low light of the dance floor and the images were blurry.
Then, I was shooting a wedding a few years later and I was asked to stick around for the party, I was setting up to take some video clips of the band playing… And then it struck me… The best man, a 6’2” well-built man, did the worm on the dance floor… I wasn’t prepared for it, the guests weren’t prepared for it, I’m not even sure the best man was prepared for it, but wow! A show stopper!
I was laughing and enjoying it myself, when I realised… I need to shoot this… however by the time I got my camera out of video mode and shot it was over.
So, does your photographer stay until the end?
I regretted not getting the shot I wanted… And I thought… How many missed moments are there after the first dance when the photographer has left.
This is why I stay until 10pm, and have the option to extend until finish if required.
I capture the first dance, get some of that party atmosphere and those wild moments so many others miss.