How Much Retouching Can Be Done on Wedding Photos?

Make sure your expectations are reasonable.

Long after the wedding day is over, you will still have the pictures to look back on. It’s only natural to hope that they will be perfect, but how much retouching is too much?

Photo: Crystal Stokes Photography

As couples begin wedding planning and seek out advice, one of the most common adages is that photography is where you should really splurge. After all, long after the big day is over, you will still have the pictures to look back on. It’s only natural to hope that they will be perfect. For some people, this means they expect their wedding photos to feature a lot of retouching; the kind of editing that always makes celebrities and models look so ideal. However, not all photographers have the capability or even willingness to make such changes. 

While this is true with any vendor, it’s especially important to carefully read the contract of your prospective photographer and make your expectations clear from the start. Keep in mind that in some cases, the pictures will have to be sent to a retoucher, which may add extra fees. Other photographers may be hesitant to warp the look of their work that much. For example, it is often stipulated that the client is not to post any photos with a filter, such as the kind frequently featured on Instagram. 

Though extreme edits such as those sometimes seen on the cover of magazines may not be an option, a wedding photographer will usually be able to remove blemishes that you may not want featured in your pictures. If there is something you are self-conscious about, it’s crucial to communicate that ahead of time so your photographer knows to make those changes. A seasoned professional is unlikely to remove a mole or whiten teeth without you asking them to, as that could easily be viewed as an insult. 

There are some aspects that will either be impossible or expensive to remove. As much as you may want to change the color of your sister-in-law’s white dress to chartreuse, it may add to your overall cost. On the other hand, if you mom really hates your back tattoo, you may be able to have one or two photos edited in order to make a nice print as a truce for going with a backless gown against her hopes and wishes. 

If after interviewing several photographers it doesn’t seem like anyone can or is willing to make the big changes you’re hoping for, it may be necessary to adjust your expectations. Try to let go of the idea of perfection and remember that every bride is beautiful on her wedding day. 

Find out which detail shots you should include in your wedding album and why you should hire a videographer.