What are the different wedding albums styles?

When I started taking wedding photographs in 2005, I had to choose a supplier for my first wedding album. There were so many choices, and I simply didn't understand the differences. Many photographers offer a wedding album in their packages, but you may not know what type of album they have included.

I have made a little video to show you the main differences of photo books, cheaper wedding albums, coffee table books and overlay/matted wedding albums. After watching this, I am sure you will have a clear preference of the style of album you would love for your wedding photographs.

All styles vary widely in price. The photo books are the cheapest, and are not really wedding albums as such. The assembly style album are relatively cheap too, as the album suppliers can produce lots of them and have them in their warehouse. Coffee table books and overlay / matted albums are partly hand-crafted albums and are therefore substantially more expensive. However, the quality of some of them is absolutely outstanding and well worth the investment.

What does a photographer mean by the "standard" album?

When you enquire about wedding photography, most photographers offer one or several wedding album options. Some photographers include an album in their packages, other photographers offer an album as an optional extra.

Quite often, the wedding package includes the photographer's "standard" album. This could either be an album that allows you to put your wedding story together, or it will be a starter album with only a small number of images. If your photographer includes a premium album in their packages, such as a Queensberry or Jorgensen album, please make sure you check the size of the album that's included as well as the number of photographs. They might show you amazing large albums, however, the "standard" album is only 20x20 cm with 30 photographs. If you then want to upgrade to a bigger album, expect to pay £1000 upwards for the larger album after your wedding.

How many photos do you need in a wedding album?

If your photographer is with you for the full day, i.e. from the bridal and/or groom's preparations until the dancing, you might want at least 60 photographs in your wedding album (just as a side note - most of my couples choose between 120 and 150 images for their wedding album).

Beware of the "included" wedding album

If you are looking for an impressive wedding album and you don't read the small print, your wedding photography package might include a wedding album, but only a basic, small one. I would consider a wedding album to be small when it is 8 inches by 8 inches (20 cm x 20 cm), and it has only a very limited number of images. After your wedding, you can then buy more images for your album, and/or upgrade your wedding album to a substantially larger one.

So the thing to watch out for is - Included wedding albums will vary widely.

What is a good wedding album size?

If you only have a small wedding, with - say - 20 people, and the photographer is only taking photos for a few hours, you might be happy with a small wedding album and fewer images. I consider an album small if it is 10 inches x 10 inches (25 cm x 25 cm) or smaller, with around 30 photographs in the wedding album.

My "standard" album options is an amazing 14 by 11 inches Jorgenson Overlay or Coffee Table Album (35 cm x 28 cm).

What is a coffee table album?

There are so many different wedding album suppliers out there who all have their own definition of wedding album and coffee table book. I consider a coffee table wedding album a good sized wedding album, at least 12x12 inch, or 14x10 inch, and stiff pages. Coffee Table Books usually have the images printed on the pages. It's usually a very good quality and they come with many cover options, engravings and so on.

What are the different types of wedding album?

Album styles and differences

Different photographers might talk about digital books, photo books, coffee table books, traditional albums, matted albums and so on, lustre photo paper, glossy, fine art paper. These are all professional terms for the different products on the market. I think the best way is to see the albums and to touch them, and if it makes you go “ooooh – I want that one” – you’ve found the album style perfect for you. There is no right or wrong, there are simply different tastes and products available to match yours.

Different album styles, different price tags

The cheapest option is a photo book. They are relatively cheap to produce, you can even design them yourself with some online photo book companies. However, they don’t have that wedding album look and feel and they might not last very long if a lot of people want to look at it. The pages are likely to be very thin and bendy and the paper is much lower quality than that in proper wedding albums.

Traditional photo book

The traditional photo book is likely to be only 1 cm thick, the pages are bendy and very thin. You can probably design the book so that a photography spans over 2 pages, but it will look quite odd, as the pages are bendy in the centre of the book (see below).

Album thickness - 1 cm with 20-30 pages, wedding album styles
Album thickness - 1 cm with 20-30 pages.
The pages are thin and bendy, wedding album styles
The pages are thin and bendy
You cannot put images across the centre of the page, wedding album styles
You cannot put images across the centre of the page.

Lay-flat photo book

This is a slightly higher quality photo book option. The only difference to the traditional photo book is that the pages are assembled in a way they lay flat when the book is opened. This allows for photographs to be printed across the page. The book is still thin, and the pages are bendy too.

Album thickness - 1 cm with 20-30 pages, wedding album styles
Album thickness - 1 cm with 20-30 pages.
The pages lay flat when the book is opened, wedding album styles
The pages lay flat when the book is opened.
One image can overlap the centre and cover both pages, wedding album styles
One image can overlap the centre and cover both pages.

Digital story book albums / Coffee table books

Coffee table wedding albums come in all shapes and sizes, rectangular, square, and can be produced up to 20 inches x 20 inches (50 cm x 50 cm).

It can have as little as 5 spreads (which means 10 pages), and as many as 40 spreads (80 pages). This will not tell you anything about the number of photos that fit into the album.

If you have a small album - say 10 inch x 10 inches, I wouldn't put any more than three images per page. But if you have a larger album, you can have six or eight or even more photographs on one single page.

The following applies to digital story book albums / coffee table wedding albums:

  • The album is usually designed by the photographer. Some photographers let you choose your wedding photographs, other photographers select the photographs for the album.
  • You should normally get the option to proof the album before it goes to print.
  • The images are printed on the pages.
  • There are unlimited design options – images can be laid out in a classic and timeless way – side by side, or they can overlap each other, they can also be rotated, and be displayed in shapes, such as hearts or stars.
  • The pages are quite thick and do not bend.
  • They are machine produced by a photography lab with a small element of manual touches.
  • These albums are produced by professional photography labs and wedding album suppliers all around the world. The production time can vary from 7 days to several weeks or even months, depending on the lab location.


The album is more than 1 inch thick (3 cm +) - depending on the number of photographs and/or pages you choose, wedding album styles
The album is more than 1 inch thick (3 cm +) - depending on the number of photographs and/or pages you choose.

It can have different cover colours and materials, such as leather, PVC, Harris Tweed, acrylic photo covers and many more.

You can display your names on the front in a very classy way, this is the laser etching option. You can show your wedding date, or a personal message, or just your names, wedding album styles
You can display your names on the front in a very classy way, this is the laser etching option. You can show your wedding date, or a personal message, or just your names.
The pages are very thick, they do not bend, and the photographs are directly printed on the page, wedding album styles
The pages are very thick, they do not bend, and the photographs are directly printed on the page.

Images can be laid out classically with a nice border around them, or cover the whole page, or overlap each other, or printed squint, or in a circle, with a white or black or pink or even textured printed background, or a mixture of it all.

The album will of course lay flat. Images can be printed across the centre. The page quality is amazing and wipeable (subject to album supplier!), wedding album styles
The album will of course lay flat. Images can be printed across the centre. The page quality is amazing and wipeable (subject to album supplier!).

Many years ago, traditionally photographs would slip in behind a pre-cut hole of the wedding album "matt" or cardboard material. This might seem old-fashioned, but nowadays, overlay albums have been taken to a whole new level of quality and elegance. Maybe you can sense which one is my favourite!!

Overlay wedding albums / Matted wedding albums

"Matted" albums is another professional photographer’s term which probably means nothing to you when you first hear it. A matted album means that the photographs are assembled behind a mount, or "matt". Top quality albums from the best labs allow the photographer to individually design the album so the images are arranged in such a way to best portray your wedding day.

The images can be mounted with double mount, or with a border around the images. The pages are elegant, with only a few images per page, designed around your wedding. The covers can be fabric such as Harris Tweed or linen, or leather. The pages are very thick. The album is likely to be very heavy and will definitely make you feel like you are about to lift and open something very special.

The album will be substantially bigger than your "normal" coffee table book as essentially each page consists of 3 sections of cardboard (matts), wedding album styles
The album will be substantially bigger than your "normal" coffee table book as essentially each page consists of 3 sections of cardboard (matts).
As with coffee table albums, there are numerous suppliers out there, with hundreds design options. You may have heard of Albums of Australia, Joergenson (UK & Australia), Queensberry (New Zealand), wedding album styles
As with coffee table albums, there are numerous suppliers out there, with hundreds design options. You may have heard of Albums of Australia, Joergenson (UK & Australia), Queensberry (New Zealand).
The albums looks stunning and are really heavy, wedding album styles
The albums looks stunning and are really heavy.
The photographs are individually printed and mostly assembled by hand - and displayed behind a matt. You can also have pages which are covered by one photograph (see above right),, wedding album styles
The photographs are individually printed and mostly assembled by hand - and displayed behind a matt. You can also have pages which are covered by one photograph (see above right).
Different suppliers offer different design elements, wedding album styles
Different suppliers offer different design elements.
As you can see in the image, the photographs are behind the white matt. This looks very elegant and classy, wedding album styles
As you can see in the image, the photographs are behind the white matt. This looks very elegant and classy.
Just a little glimpse into the different cover options..., wedding album styles
Just a little glimpse into the different cover options...

Verdict - Overlay album

There is no right or wrong when it comes to coffee table book or overlay / matted album. It's purely down to preference.

Overlay albums are a lot more time-consuming to produce and this is reflected in the price. Personally, I LOVE LOVE LOVE overlay albums. Every overlay album I had the honour to design and deliver to my clients has given me goosebumps!!

Overlay album - Joergenson Albums

I have chosen the prestigious album supplier Joergenson as my supplier as they offer me the design options that give me goosebumps when I open the album, such as the custom-designed vellum sheet before the album starts.

How to select your album photos in under 3 hours?

Who is Nadin Dunnigan - Wedding Photographer in Edinburgh

Hey, I am Nadin! (same as "Nadine" - just without the "e"). I am a wedding photographer in Edinburgh, Scotland, specialising in big family weddings in Edinburgh, Scotland, and internationally. I have photographed so many weddings, and it is my mission to help couples with planning their dream wedding. Any questions I come across repeatedly - either in person or online, I will pop in here and provide more insight.

I hope you will find them useful :)

Nadin Dunnigan Photographer