The question of whether or not to budget for a wedding album is one which most couples wrestle with, and one which I am often asked my thoughts on.
The wedding album is often perceived not to be a tangible item until it is sat in the lap of the couple.
All the other costs, venue, food, lighting, entertainment, suits, dresses, shoes, cake, cars, and gifts have to be paid for or they just don't happen. Often, viewing sample albums is dismissed as unnecessary as couples have the edited, high resolution images with which they can create prints or build a book at a later date.
The album can wait.
Should it though?
Of course, being a wedding photographer, I feel that all my best work should be printed on the finest paper, bound to a very high standard, finished and covered in the finest materials. Producing the album may involve covering it in a fine hide cover, lining it with a silk lining, printing it on thick metallic print paper, and all hand-made with a lifetime guarantee.
The World renowned Graphistudio of Italy can provide an album of that quality and are my sole supplier of wedding albums. In order not to compromise with quality I provide an Original Wedding Book in my album packages.
Of course this costs money, and at a time when budgets are coming under pressure from all the other costs inherent in a wedding. It is understandable why many couples choose to make a saving on an item which, let's face it, does not contribute directly to the 'Big Day'.
So why budget for an album?
Quite simply, the quality of printing, covers and finish is not out there and accessible, other than through a dedicated wedding book supplier. Yes you can upload your images and you may be happy with the results but they do not stand comparison with some of the album suppliers, Graphistudio, Queensberry and Loxley, for quality, finish, and longevity. The fact that some couples do not realise this is often down to the photographer, myself included.
The question of whether to buy Parent books needs no prolonged discussion.
A Parent book, a complete replication of the wedding album, usually in a smaller format, is probably one of the most valued gifts parents can receive.
Why is quality important?
A wedding is a unique occasion, the coming together of a group of people to celebrate an event that is unique. The make up of that group will never be repeated, generally. All the more reason then for it to be recorded for posterity to a high standard.
The resulting wedding album can become a legacy and is, in fact, one of the very few items which grow in value as time passes. How the album is valued is irrelevant really, whether its value is seeing our younger selves as newlyweds or having fond memories rekindled of our loved ones sharing our special day. To carry out its job the album has to last a lifetime and that is why buying the best quality album, within reason, is important.
Regardless of whether, or not, a couple go for an album package I always 'shoot for the album'. In other words I record the day as though the best of the images were going to be placed in an album. This approach may seem unnecessary. However, when you think about it a wedding day unfolds in a storybook manner.
Bride and groom preparation, detail, the ceremony, the venue, more detail, the speeches, the couple of course, and first dance, all recorded. During the day some images are recorded with a position in the album in mind. Double spread photographs are an example of this.
Thinking about this, as the day progresses, is important and impacts on the potential for the production of a memorable album. Whilst the shot, above, was on my mind all day, as I waited for the weather to improve, it had in fact been planned 4 weeks earlier.
Planning is crucial to both the coverage of a wedding and the production of the wedding album.
Any bride can testify to that.
In short, then, my advice is to budget for an album, if at all possible.
However, if it is not to be, don't leave your images languishing on a DVD.
Use your images in another way. One of my couples were adamant there was to be no album and covered their walls in their favourite images from their special day, and they look amazing.
They know, though, that their remaining images are there waiting for the story to be told.