Second photographers are one of the main things couples ask me about when they are getting married. There is no right answer to whether or not you will need a second photographer - it all depends on your day and your desires. For about 7 years, I didn't have a second photographer with me for weddings, ever. The last three years I have had a second photographer with me for most of my weddings, but still not all. So how do you know if you need a second photographer?
1 - Getting ready portraits of both sides are important to you
While sometimes I can make it work and jump back and forth between the brides room and the grooms room if they are in the same hotel, usually the timeline doesn't allow for this. Even without a second photographer, I can usually get some details shots of the groom fixing his tie, straightening his jacket and cufflinks, etc., before the ceremony at the church, but that is not a guarantee for every wedding. So, if pictures of the guys getting ready are an absolute must have, you will want to add a second photographer to your wedding package.
2 - You want a picture from behind as you walk down the aisle
While I wish I could be in two places at once, I can't. I am always at the front of the ceremony aisle, which allows me to capture the grooms face as he see's his bride for the first time, as well as the bride from the front as she walks down the aisle. If the back of your processional is a must have, you will definitely want a second photographer.
3. You have a tight timeline, but want the reception hall details captured before guests arrive
I am always able to get details of centerpieces, cake, and decor while the reception is happening, whether guests are there or not. I am not always able to get an overview of your reception without guests inside, or a picture of the card table without names missing if we are doing portraits while the cocktail hour is happening. If an empty, overview picture of your reception, and an undisturbed seating assignment chart is on the top of your list, make sure you have at least two photographers.
4. You have a large wedding party, and limited portrait time
I love to have a second photographer with me so when we are doing wedding party portraits, my second can take pictures of the groom with his groomsmen, while I take pictures of the bride with her bridesmaids. It allows us to fit in double the pictures in half the time. While I am absolutely able to do this all on my own, if you have 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen, and only half an hour for all of your portraits, you should probably add a second photographer to make sure we get the most out of our time together!
5. If you have over 250 guests
The larger the wedding is, the harder it is for just me to capture everyone there. While I can, and have, done large (think 500 guests) weddings alone, it is always easier to make sure everything and everyone is covered! A photographer tendency is to go where the action is, which at a reception is usually the dance floor. While I know not everyone dances and we always make sure to wander around getting candids of those people who are not dancing, it is a bit harder to make sure I capture everyone and still not miss the action moments when it is just me.