I liken the wedding album process to a DIY project, such as tiling a bathroom. You certainly could learn how to do it yourself and save money, however like any new endeavor, there is a learning curve and a price to pay: time, quality and frustration.
Professional book binders are typically only accessible to professional photographers. So if you want a really high-end, hand-crafted album, doing it yourself is not the way to go.
Choosing Your Layout
There is no right answer to which pictures to use. However, you should decide if you want the finished product to look more like an artist's portfolio, a photo scrapbook, or a combination of the two. If you choose a portfolio-style layout, typically there will be just one image per side, giving all of the photos equal billing and focusing the viewers attention on that one image, showcasing the quality of the work and all of the emotions conveyed. The downside of this is that the goofy shots of your friends and their shenanigans may have to be omitted. On the other end of the scale, an album jam-packed with four or more images on each side (scrapbook style) could look overwhelmingly busy and hide the impact of your favorite pictures. So it would seem that a combination of the two styles is the way to go. In my 20 years of making albums, 75% I have done this way and 25% have been portfolio.
Choosing Your Pictures
You may want to get things done quickly and your album in hand as soon as possible, but I suggest you wait a few months, let the images sit with you, and then decide. You will end up choosing the images that have really struck a chord over that time as opposed to an impulsive selection the day after your honeymoon. I prefer not to mix color and black and white on opposing sides of an album. Don't worry too much about whether the images are black and white or color, the flexibility of digital allows me to toggle between the two so that there will only be one or the other on opposing pages.
How Many Pictures Should an Album Have?
Multiply the number of sides (each page has two sides) by 1.5, e.g. a 20 page album has 40 sides, therefore about 60 images is appropriate. If you have lots of shenanigans or a photo booth you want to include from the reception, you can make a montage on one side. (For example, the images below feature many photos from the reception on one page.)
The Ordering Process
I will do a crude mock-up to show you before starting the time-consuming process of laying out each side. Once that is done I will ask the couple for final approval on the layout and any imprinting, such as names and dates. The files then get exported to the book binders and they work their magic.