Time is money. Your money.
"Nothing will start before 8pm I am telling you. You can bet if you want" - Said a traditional photographer to me in Bangalore once lonnnnng ago and I thought, how cocky is this man!? The client called us at 6 for a reason, and this man is saying nothing will start till 8? Rubbish!! Guess what ... he was right!
Wedding Photography is expensive today. Candid wedding photography is even more expensive. Well so are cappuccinos and pedicures. But if you have decided to spend on your wedding to make memories for a life time, then you must perhaps might want the best return out of it as well.
Many a times clients give photographers a call time with a buffer added. e.g. If the event is at 7pm, they'd probably ask you to get there by 5.30pm , when in fact the event does not get going till 7.30. Photographers (and video) are the first to arrive at any wedding usually, but for the decor people of course. And this could work for you as a client if one event is all you have, but if its multiple events on multiple days of the wedding then you will probably be worse off by exercising this level of prudence.
Let me explain further. Let's say your wedding has a Mehendi, Sangeet, Wedding and reception function in 2 days (4 events). Even if you add just 1 hour to each event, you are eating away 4 hours from the 2 days. These 4 hours could be crucial. Most importantly for rest. The less tired your photographer is, the better your pictures are likely to be. Those 4 lost hours could mean may be the photographer did not get time to recharge all batteries and take a second data back-up (I usually take 2 back-ups of all events) . And then whose risk is that?
The other mis-utilisation of time is when you want the photographer to stay till the last chair has been vacated at the venue. It might work at an isolated engagement function, but imagine if your Sangeet went on till 1am (where most shots are repetitive after 11pm) and your Wedding Make-up in the morning begins at 6.30 am. Now looking at this gap you might think its a fair 5.30 hour gap. Should be sufficient rest for all. But you are probably retiring in the room next door, while the photographers will drive back and spend some more time taking data back up and resetting all equipment for next shoot (including charging batteries). Honestly any good photographer does not find it easy to sleep immediately after the shoot. There is so much stimulus that day with constant shooting and thinking of ideas, that it takes time to unwind, slow down and sleep. Then shower in the morning, quickly stuff his/her face and run to venue sleeping not more than 4 hours. Is that how you'd like to use your wedding photographer on your big day? With 3-4 hours of sleep? It's your money, you know best but I would not advice it.
If you think 'a small puja' is worth capturing 3 hours before the event (a 5 min Puja) then by all means call your Photographer for it. But remember it will take away from the freshness of the big event. The other 3 hours while waiting for the main event, he/she will loiter around, try to rest, check facebook, and will probably get a bit bored with the setting. We don't want that. Do we?
Never add a buffer fearing 'what if' the photographer is not on time. What if he/she misses the event? Well in that case, either hire a professional who has come through referral or with a great body of work, or add penalties in your contract about being late.
I suggest as a bride/groom, draw out a detailed itinerary. Minute by minute. List out all the auspicious events and ask the priests when they would begin and conclude. Make other plans and chalk out your itinerary with your event planner. Finally take your photographer through the itinerary. If the professionals are advising you otherwise then its in your interest to listen to them. No photographer wants to miss out on a photo-op. And remember its probably your first wedding but he/she has been to a 100+ . Listen to that experience. You're paying for it.
Remember, the most expensive pens are for your signature.