The term ‘sneak peek’ gets thrown around a lot by wedding photographers, but few take the time to explain what it means and why you’d want one!

What is a sneak peek?

A sneak peek is a small sampler of downloadable images, prepared by a wedding photographer for their client. It’s usually delivered to the client 1 – 7 days after the wedding day.

Most sneak peeks (or ‘sneak previews’) are delivered via the photographer’s preferred gallery delivery software, but some photographers may simply email them or create a Facebook gallery.

How many images are contained in a sneak peek?

This question was asked on the wedding photography subreddit not long ago, and the answers were quite varied! Some photographers reported sending 3 or 4 images. Others sent as many as 150! 

The average number of photos that’s included (which I also know about anecdotally from my circles) is between 10 and 30. 

I include a minimum of 20 images (that’s what will be noted in the contract). At the upper end, if could be up to 40 but usually shakes out around 30 images included in the preview. This is about the same for shorter or longer weddings.

understanding the team sneak peek or sneak preview wedding
A good mix of photos should be included in the sneak preview | Photography by Zoe Larkin Photography

What photos are included in the sneak peek?

A key component of the sneak is to ensure that there’s a wide variety of shots included from different parts of the wedding day. These could include getting ready, candids, family formals, reception and details – not solely photos of the couple!

One thing I tend to avoid is showcasing too many of one particular guest or side of the family. Yes, oftentimes there’s one person who likes to get in front of the camera and creates some great moments.

But I like to keep things even! Sometimes there’s no way of knowing who the most important people are to you – so I don’t tend to include ‘random’ guests. However, I try to include parent shots from both sides (if applicable), which is more doable with longer coverage with more emphasis on candids.

What are the benefits of a sneak peek?

A sneak peek has a few different benefits for both the client and photographer. Here’s a few of them:

  • Sneak peek images are often used for wedding announcements (‘we eloped!’) and/ or thank you cards or emails. I deliver sneaks in full, print resolution to make this easy!
  • It introduces the client to the gallery software where the full gallery will be hosted. You’ll be able to navigate around it easily, 
  • The couple is able to put their mind at ease, knowing the photographer captured beautiful images. It’s easier to wait the weeks/months it takes for final delivery, knowing that you are thrilled with the small sampler. 
  • The hope is that these images will get shared and enjoyed while the wedding is still fresh. Clients will circulate them on social media and tag the photographer, thus allowing the photographer to get exposure to a new audience.
  • Any major, unexpected issues with the editing can be addressed. If your photographer suddenly changed their style from light and airy to dark and moody on your gallery, now’s the time to speak up!

It’s a good idea to get a sneak peek because you may end up feeling weirdly anxious if you don’t get at least a glimpse of the wedding photos! 

Many couples think they’ll be fine waiting. Once the flurry of the day is over, they realize they can’t contain their excitement. 

Our delivery time is up to 6 weeks, which is a long time to wait when you’re dying to see your wedding photos and relive the day!

can you see your wedding photos immediately after the wedding?
Several weeks or months is a long time to wait to see your wedding memories! | Photography by Zoe Larkin Photography

Do you always get a sneak peek?

It’s best to check with your photographer because everyone works differently. The most common options are:

  1. Sneaks are provided and are complimentary 
  2. Sneaks are not provided and you’ll see your images only on Instagram or with your final delivery 
  3. Sneaks are provided by advance request, and for an additional fee

If you’re here because you’re prospective clients of Zoe Larkin Photography, here’s how it works with me! 

I do charge a small fee if clients would like sneak previews. This is no surprise to anyone who’s decided to use my services as this is explained prior to onboarding, during the sales consultation. 

The reason for this is that putting together a sneak peek is time-consuming. 

I had countless experiences of spending hours creating sneaks for clients –  sometimes when totally frazzled from shooting their weddings – only for the email never to be opened. 

Maybe they’re on honeymoon, or too busy, or just not in the mood to think about wedding stuff so soon after it’s all over. 

Therefore, the addition of a fee is a way of making sure a sneak peek is something the client values, and is going to be worth my valuable time as a solo business owner to lovingly create. 

how do wedding photographers put together a sneak peek of wedding photos
Sneak peeks take time to put together in the busy times immediately post-wedding | Photography by Zoe Larkin Photography

What’s involved with putting together a sneak peek?

First, you have to ingest and sort all the images that came from the wedding. 

Next, pick out or ‘star’ some favorite ones, making sure to select a representative sample from the whole day (that also highlights other vendors’ work and can be shared in social media. 

Then, import into Lightroom and edit the images. I offer fully-edited images for the sneak peek, which means not only global adjustments (Lightroom) but also retouching/ fine-image editing (Photoshop).

After the edited images are ready and look consistent, they’ll need to be exported and loaded up into the newly-created client gallery. 

Certain options are turned off there (such as the download PIN, ability to favorite, preset lists, and the store). You’ll want those options only when you have the full collection. 

Once everything looks good, it can finally be shared with the client! It’s lovely and very gratifying to hear a word or two from you that you’re happy with the images you’re seeing! 

To sum up 

Hopefully that was helpful to get some insight into the new lingo of the ‘sneak peek’ or ‘sneak preview’. 

I’ve also explained why it’s necessary for me to charge extra for this, which goes along with our a la carte pricing structure where you only pay for what you actually want. 

A sneak peek is a great way of setting your mind at ease – and getting your hands on your wedding photos for sharing and announcement purposes. 

It’s definitely a worthwhile add-on if budget allows, especially as it’ll be a long while usually before you’ll see the final gallery delivery that you’ll be able to enjoy for the rest of your lives. 

if you have heard the team 'sneak peek' thrown about by wedding photographers, but you've no idea what that means, you're not alone! In this blog post, I help you understand what a sneak peek is,, why you'd want one, whether it costs extra and what you can expect from your sneak peek or sneak preview of your wedding photos.
Understand what a sneak peek really means in wedding photography lingo!
Zoe Larkin
Zoe Larkin

I’m Zoe, a wedding photographer based in San Francisco! My style is candid, capturing authentic moments for my couples all over the Bay Area and Northern California. Creating content is my passion! Follow along the blog and Insta!

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