I've had clients who approved my first draft and clients who went through 10 drafts. I've had brides who censored any image that didn't show them in a flattering light and others who requested I include the goofiest, scariest pictures of them I had taken. Like the proverbial box of choclates, you never know what you're gonna get.
I just finished uploading an album to the printer for Cheryl and Matt. Cheryl holds the Booray Perry Photography record for most revisions (certificate in the mail). The way I see it, while it may be true that I spent more time on her album than expected, it's also true that anyone who is as intense about their wedding album as Cheryl is someone who will cherish and display the album proudly for years to come. As an artist, that's the best thing you can hope for. Plus, Cheryl is about the sweetest person on the planet (and a teacher!)
A sure sign that someone is serious about their album is when they agree to pose for pictures before the ceremony. They know that after the ceremony there isn't always enough time to get everything they want because of family and friends and the demands of the day. Posing before the ceremony with no distractions is always preferred by photographers.
One of the things that we worked on quite a bit with her album was the backgrounds. Typically, I like to use backgrounds that are images taken at the reception. In Cheryl's case, the reception was in a room that was very white. White walls, white ceiling, white floor... white. This led to white backgrounds which didn't do enough to bring out the colors in the pictures. So, I used vintage paper patterns on some of the pages to add some color to the backgrounds.
One thing that does remain constant when designing these albums is the party pictures. We photographers love to express our artistic vision with incredible bridal portraits (and the brides do love them) but it's the party pictures that are always the most worried over in the album. People love the formals and the ceremony, etc, but it's the fun pictures of family and friends celebrating the union that typically take up the most real estate in the album and get the most revisions. I typically start my designs with minimal pictures and a more artistic design but more often than not, the client will keep adding images until the album becomes packed. I think it's an interesting contradiction. If you look at the albums that most photographers feature on their website or enter into competition, they are much more "trendy" than mine tend to be. I think it's easy to be stylish and minimal when you don't involve the client in the process but when you do.... they want more pictures! :)
There's also the fact that my most popular album is 12x12 which leaves a lot of room for images without sacrificing too much in size.
As a side note let me just say that the priest who performed the ceremony was the coolest clergy I've ever encountered. At the rehearsal I asked him if there were any lighting restrictions.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"When can I use my flash and when do you want me to turn it off?" I asked.
"Oh, I don't care about that stuff," he said, "My only rule is: If you see steps, don't go up them." In other words, don't climb the altar. Very cool guy.