How Many Hours of Wedding Photography Do You Need?

How Many Hours of Wedding Photography Do You Need?

Once you start looking for a wedding photographer and reading over their different wedding collections you will see that most wedding photographers offer several different wedding collections based on time. But if you have never been married before, how to you know how much time you need your photographer for? Today I'm going to help you decide how much wedding photography coverage you need in just 4 simple questions.

Questions to ask

  • Are you going to have a grand exit at the end of the night you want the photographer to cover?

  • Is the ceremony and reception in the same place?

  • Are you having a first look?

  • And how important to you are getting ready photos?

Let’s talk about why those questions affect how much wedding photography coverage you need.

Are you doing a grand exit at the end of the night?

If you're doing a grand exit and you want the photographer to cover, that will dictate the end of the coverage. So if you know your exit will be at 10, then you can work backwards from there. If you are not doing a grand exit, Budget for the photographer to be at the reception for 2 hours. That’s typically enough to cover the entrance, cake cutting, dances, toast, and after a certain amount of time all dancing photos start to look the same.

Is the Ceremony and Reception in the same location?

Indy has some great venues like mustard seed gardens that pull double duty and let you do both in the same location. Get married under the old oak tree and party in the big red barn! Having both the ceremony and reception in the same location can save you a lot of time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen what should be a 10 mins car ride take over an hour. People never know what they need to bring, where it is, where they are going, or where to park when they get there. That drive time can eat into portraits and if you booked just 5-6 hours every minute is important!

Are you having a first look?

A first look is when you and your soon to be spouse see each other the day of the wedding before the ceremony and have it photographed. Why would this affect how much time you need to book with your wedding photographer? Traditionally family photos, bridal party photos, and wedding portraits happen in between the ceremony and the reception. This is usually when the cocktail hour is for guests to keep them occupied while your bridal party and you are out busy with the photographer. If you do a first look before the ceremony, you can also do all of your bridal portraits and bridal party photos if you choose! Freeing you up to go straight from the ceremony to the reception and meet with guests. Saving you an hour of time coverage.

How important are getting ready photos?

There is a lot of prep the morning of the wedding but it usually consists of hair, makeup and mimosas. This is a time where you and all of your bridesmaids relax sharing old stories, listening to music, getting in your dresses, and laughing. This can be a great opportunity to get some candid photos of you all hanging out and having a good time before the day gets started. It's a good idea to establish how important these photos are to you as it typically takes about an hour or more to photograph the getting ready part of the day. And while the photos really help tell the story of your wedding day especially in the album these photos are rarely shared online since its before you have gone through hair or makeup.


10+ Hours

If you are having a grand exit at 10, your ceremony is at 2, your ceremony and reception are not at the same location, you’re not doing a first look, and getting ready photos are very important to you, I would recommend 10+ hours of coverage. From 2pm for your ceremony to 10pm for your exit, is 8 hours, add 2 for getting ready photos is 10 hours.

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8 Hours

Most weddings can be confidently captured with 8 hours of coverage. This allows for about an hour of getting ready photos which is perfect as most of the girls are done with hair and makeup and we can capture you getting into the dress. Most couples do decide to do a first look but with 8 hours of coverage the timeline is not screwed up if you decide it’s not the right choice for you. That leads us to the ceremony, then an hour and a half to shoot all the family photos, bridal party photos, and your portraits before heading to the reception. Capture all the activities, entrance, first dances, cake, toasts, and all those great drunk dance moves from your guests! Like I said, for the majority of weddings 8 hours of coverage is perfect.

6 Hours or less

If you are not having a grand exit, your ceremony is in the same location as your reception, you decide to do a first look and don't need any getting ready photos you should be just fine with just 5-6 hours of coverage.

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What if you book 6 hours and you need more time on your wedding day? I know that during the planning process the wedding can become something entirely different than you thought it would be. The wedding is going to end later and with an exit now! What do you do?? Most photographers will be happy to add an additional hour or two if you need them two. Just ask for their hourly rate!

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