Are 6 hours of wedding photography enough?

As a wedding photographer, one of the questions we hear from couples is how many hours of coverage do we need? Since this is probably your first time planning a wedding, you may have no idea what you will need and don’t even know where to start figuring it out. You want to make sure you get all the essential parts of your day covered, but you also don’t want to be spending your precious wedding budget on hours of photography that you don’t need. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

The first step to hiring your wedding photographer will be to have a rough answer to the question, “How many hours of wedding photography do you need?” The answer will be different for almost every couple because each wedding is unique, but a good portion of weddings fall between 8 and 10 hours. Things like the number of locations and their distance from one another, the number of bridal party members and family members, and which parts of the wedding day are most important to you will affect this answer. 

Since this is probably your first time planning a wedding, you may have no idea what you will need and don’t even know where to start figuring it out. You want to make sure you get all the essential parts of your day covered, but you also don’t want to be spending your precious wedding budget on hours of photography that you don’t need.

We want to help make things easier for you, so here is our guide to how many hours of wedding photography coverage you need for your wedding day.  

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 various wedding collections based on time. But if you have never been married before, how do 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 four 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?
  • Are the ceremony and reception in the same place?
  • Do you have a first look?
  • And how important are getting-ready photos to you?

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 want the photographer to cover, that will dictate the coverage’s end. So if you know your door will be at 10, 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. 

Are 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 area 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 drivetime can eat into portraits, and if you booked just 5-6 hours, every minute is important! 

Do you have a first look?

Are 6 hours of wedding photography enough?

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 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 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.  Looking for wedding photography Melbourne? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

How vital are you getting ready photos to you?

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 an excellent 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 pictures help tell the story of your wedding day, especially in the album, these photos are rarely shared online since they have gone through hair or makeup. 

6 hours of Wedding Day Coverage

This is usually the least expensive package offered by photographers, doesn’t necessarily mean it is only for couples with tight budgets! Six hours of coverage is plenty for small weddings and elopements. When marriages are intimate, there aren’t many people to manage and photograph, so things tend to move quickly. That being said, 6 hours of coverage only works logistically if the ceremony and reception are in the same location.

Unless you are eloping or having an intimate dinner instead of a wedding reception, we recommend at least six hours of wedding day photography coverage. Here are a few situations when 6 hours of wedding photography coverage will work great!

  • Your ceremony and reception are in the same location.
  • You don’t want to get ready for photos.
  • You don’t have a special reception exit planned and don’t need a lot of dancing photos.

Things to consider

  • 6 hours of coverage most likely means that there will not be much (or any) time for detail decor/design shots or photos of you getting ready
  • But, there will be coverage of all of the crucial moments (portraits, ceremony, family photos, first dance, cake cutting)
  • The end of the night comes early with just 6 hours of coverage, so, most likely, there will not be many photos of the reception once the dancing starts.

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8 hours of Wedding Day Coverage

An 8-hour package is usually enough time for an average-size wedding (about 100-150 people), and the extra 2 hours of coverage will usually allow the photographer to capture the tail end of you getting ready, some detailed shots of the reception space, and the start of the dance party.

Eight hours of wedding photography is the most widespread coverage and will cover most wedding days from start to finish. Here are a few situations when 8 hours of wedding photography coverage will probably be needed!

  • Your ceremony and reception are in different locations.
  • You want to do a first look.
  • You want both getting ready photos and a lot of dancing photos.

Things to consider

  • If you have your heart set on doing a first look, we recommend at least 8 hours of coverage.
  • Even though 8 hours seems like a lot of time, this works best for weddings where the ceremony and reception are at the same location. Since the additional 2 hours gives the photographer just enough time to take a few getting ready, detail, and dancing shots, you don’t want to waste 30 or 40 minutes on your photographer needing to pack up her/his gear and drive to (and set back up at) a second location.

10 hours of Wedding Day Coverage

Don’t want to feel rushed to get all of the Pinterest-worthy shots everyone wants on their wedding day? Then at least 10 hours of coverage is the right way to go. Since the photographers are on-site for most of the day, there is enough time to get all of the detail and prep shots, plus plenty of extra time for a first look (if you want to do one). On top of that, nobody will have to rush through any of the wedding party and family portraits before getting to dinner and dancing.

Suppose you have a grand exit at 10. In that case, 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 2 pm for your ceremony to 10 pm for your exit, it is 8 hours, add 2 for getting ready photos is 10 hours. 

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In some situations, 8 hours of wedding photography won’t be enough to capture your whole wedding day. Here are a few problems when you might need 10 hours of wedding photography coverage, or maybe even more!

  • You have a gap of time between the end of your ceremony and the start of your reception (familiar with church weddings)
  • You are having two ceremonies (such as a morning tea ceremony and a traditional afternoon or evening ceremony)
  • You are having many guests and wish to do a receiving line or table visits (these typically take 30-45 minutes each.

Things to consider

  • If the wedding ceremony and reception occur in different locations, we recommend at least 10 hours of coverage. This gives the photographer enough time to travel to the second location and still get all the shots.
  • Are you planning a grand exit? Unless you’re willing to give up coverage in the earlier hours, 10 hours is usually not enough to have a photographer there until the very end of the reception.

12 hours of Wedding Day Coverage

Are 6 hours of wedding photography enough?

There are a few reasons why 12 hours of coverage would be right for you as a couple. Aside from it being more than enough time to capture all of the day’s details, this amount of coverage is almost necessary if there is a huge wedding party (bridal parties of 12 or more).

Things to consider

  • If you have a huge wedding party and family, we usually recommend 12 hours of coverage. Why? With everyone in “party mode,” it means that it can be hard to get and keep people’s attention (not to mention that it can be challenging to find and get the right people in the right place all at the right time!)
  • If you’re super into the design and have the Budget to make all of those Pinterest inspiration ideas come to life, it would be a bummer if all of those design details didn’t get photographed. So, if you have the wedding signs, custom cocktails, and lounges that everybody dreams of, we recommend 12 hours of coverage to ensure every design detail gets the attention it deserves!

Hopefully, these timelines give you a place to start as you’re determining how many hours of wedding photography you need and how to put together your timeline. If your debating between doing a first-look or not, check out these sample wedding day timelines with versus without a first-look as well. 

I help all of my couples put together their wedding day timeline to make sure there’s enough time for all of the most important events, people and details to be captured but just having a rough answer to “how many hours of wedding photography do you need?” will help as you book your wedding photographer. For a step-by-step worksheet to put together your timeline, click below to download my free wedding day timeline worksheet.  Create lasting memories through your Yarra Valley wedding photography that will be cherished forever.

Sample Timelines for Six, Eight, and Ten Hours of Photography Coverage

Six Hours Of Photography – 4:30 pm Ceremony Start Time

This typically will cover the final touches of getting ready through the first few minutes of the open dance floor. 

2:00 pm 

Photographer arrives at the bridal suite or bride’s getting ready location to capture bridal details and final touches of the bride getting ready.

2:30 pm

First-look and bride & groom photos

3:00 pm

Wedding party photos

3:30 pm

Family Photos

3:50 pm

Ceremony and reception decor 

4:00 pm

Candids as guests arrive.

4:30 pm

Ceremony 

5:00 pm

Family photos as the reception starts

5:30 pm

Candids of reception & set-up time 

6:00 pm

The grand entrance of the wedding party

6:15 pm

Dinner served

7:00 pm

Speeches

7:20 pm

Cake-cutting

7:30 pm 

First-dances

7:45 pm

Garter toss & bouquet toss

7:55 pm

Dance floor opens 

8:00 pm

Photography coverage ends

Eight Hours Of Photography – 4:30 pm Ceremony Start Time

The example below shows what adding both 1 hour before and after the ceremony could look like. This allows for more getting ready photos (including the time before the dress is on and details) and more coverage of the dance floor. Another option is to add both additional hours before the ceremony. This may be a good idea if there’s a large bridal party, if photos of the dress hanging are a must or if the two of you will be getting ready at different locations. Lastly, if you’re doing a particular exit at the end of the evening, you could add both additional hours after the ceremony. 

1:00 pm

Photographer arrives at the bridal suite or bride’s getting ready location to capture the bride and bridesmaids getting ready. 

2:30 pm

First-look and bride & groom photos

3:00 pm

Wedding party photos

3:30 pm

Family Photos

3:50 pm

Ceremony and reception decor 

4:00 pm

Candids as guests arrive.

4:30 pm

Ceremony 

5:00 pm 

Family photos as the reception starts

5:30 pm

Candids of reception & set-up time 

6:00 pm

The grand entrance of the wedding party

6:15 pm

Dinner served

7:00 pm

Speeches

7:20 pm

Cake-cutting

7:30 pm

First-dances

7:45 pm

Garter toss & bouquet toss

7:55 pm

Dance floor opens 

8:15 pm

Sunset photos

9:00pm

Photography coverage ends

Ten Hours Of Photography – 4:30 pm Ceremony Start Time

Ten hours allows for the full day, from hair and makeup to a particular exit (if desired) to be captured. Adding more time also means a bit more buffer room and can accommodate more location changes, larger wedding parties, family groups, or additional events.

12:00 pm

Photographer arrives; photograph bridal details and bride and bridesmaid dresses.

12:40 pm

Bride and bridesmaids finishing up hair and makeup and candids

1:00 pm

Groom and groomsmen finish getting dressed, final getting ready pictures.

1:30 pm

Bridesmaids then bride get dressed, final getting ready pictures.

2:15 pm

First-look and bride & groom photos

3:00 pm

Wedding party photos

3:30 pm

Family Photos

3:50 pm

Ceremony and reception decor 

4:15 pm

Candids as guests arrive.

4:30 pm

Ceremony begins

5:00 pm

The ceremony ends; Family photos as reception or cocktail hour begins.

5:30 pm

Candids of reception & set-up time 

6:00 pm

The grand entrance of the wedding party

6:15 pm

Dinner served

7:00 pm

Speeches

7:20 pm

Cake-cutting

7:30 pm

First-dances

7:45 pm

Garter toss & bouquet toss

7:55 pm

Dance floor opens 

8:15 pm

Bride and groom sunset photos 

9:45 pm

Couple’s reception exit

10:00 pm

Photography coverage ends

Hopefully, these timelines give you a place to start as you’re determining how many hours of wedding photography you need and how to put together your timeline. If you’re debating between doing a first-look or not, check out these sample wedding day timelines with versus without a first-look as well. 

Recommendations

Suppose you have a grand exit at 10. In that case, 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; we would recommend 10+ hours of coverage. From 2 pm for your ceremony to 10 pm for your exit, it is 8 hours, add 2 for getting ready photos is 10 hours. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

Most weddings can be confidently captured with 8 hours of coverage. This allows for about an hour of getting ready photos which are perfect as most of the girls are done with hair and makeup, and we can capture you getting into the dress. Most couples 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 tremendous drunk dance moves from your guests! Like we said, for the majority of weddings, 8 hours of coverage is perfect. 

If you do not have 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 ready photos. You should be just fine with just 5-6 hours of coverage.