One of the questions that we frequently get asked as wedding photographers by the engaged couple is, "How many hours of coverage do we need?" Because this is most likely your first time organising a wedding, you probably have no idea what you will require and don't even know where to begin figuring it out. If this is the case, don't worry!
You want to make sure that all of the significant moments of your wedding day are captured, but at the same time, you don't want to waste your valuable wedding budget on additional hours of photography that you won't even use.
We want to help make things easier for you, so here is our guide to how many hours of wedding photography coverage you really need for your wedding day. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
When you're in the thick of things, planning a wedding, you're going to find yourself confronted with a lot of questions you never even thought to ask. You are all of a sudden expected to become an expert on everything having to do with events, from determining which flowers are in season to being aware of how much money to budget. Therefore, we decided that today would be a good day to provide you with a resource that you can consult when the question "Wait... how many hours do we need to book our photographer for?" inevitably arises.
6 hours of Wedding Day Coverage
Although this is the package that is typically offered by photographers at the lowest price, this does not necessarily mean that it is only appropriate for couples who have limited financial resources. For intimate ceremonies and elopements, a coverage time of six hours should be sufficient. When weddings are kept small, there are fewer guests to coordinate and photograph, and as a result, the ceremony and reception tend to move more quickly. However, in order for the 6-hour coverage to be feasible from a logistical standpoint, both the ceremony and the reception must take place at the same venue.
Things to consider
- 6 hours of programming This suggests that there won't be much (or any) time for close-up shots of the decor or designs, or pictures of you getting ready.
- However, all the crucial events will be covered (portraits, ceremony, family photos, first dance, cake cutting)
- There will probably be few photos of the reception once the dancing begins because the night ends early with only 6 hours of coverage.
How many hours do we need our wedding photographer?
The majority of wedding photographers structure their photography packages around the number of hours of coverage included. On the other hand, the majority of engaged couples, particularly in the early stages of their wedding planning, are not really sure how many hours they will require. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
We have put together a simple guide and also want to share our top 5 points to consider when determining wedding photography hours needed:
THINK IN TERMS OF “EVENTS”
Consider what wedding events you want captured. Do you want wedding morning preparation photos or are you happy for the photographer to start at the ceremony location? Do you want the photographer to capture wild dance floor moments (again, some of the funniest) or a romantic sparkler exit? Choosing the most important events will help you determine how many hours you'll need a photographer.
Every wedding is different, some big, some small. How long you should hire a wedding photographer depends on what you want captured, locations, travel times, and how long your wedding is. As a wedding photographer, I help couples choose a package. I look at their schedule and ask what they want to capture most (and how much they want to pay). This post helps brides and grooms by estimating how long each aspect of photography will take.
Groom Preparation Photos
Grooms typically require less time to get ready because they do not require their hair or makeup to be done, and the majority of them are experts when it comes to donning a suit. Because they have to leave earlier than the bride to make it to the ceremony, I find that it is easiest to begin the wedding day with the groom and his attendants.
I would prefer to have an hour and a half for this, but it can be accomplished in thirty minutes. I would love to have an hour and a half for this, but it can also be accomplished in thirty minutes. This can take a bit longer if you have a large family and/or bridal party, or if you want to include a few extra special photo ideas.
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Bridal Preparation Photos
Girls take longer to get ready than guys on the wedding day. Professional hair and makeup take time, and elegant bridal gowns can be difficult to get into. (I've helped brides and bridesmaids with zips and clasps) I love photographing make-up, champagne, shoes, and dresses. I recommend 60 minutes but prefer 90 for bridal preparation photos. If you have a large family and/or bridal party or want more stylised portraits, I'd recommend extending the time.
Optional: Bride Reveal Portraits
It is becoming more and more common these days to have a portrait session with a hidden bride reveal take place before the actual wedding ceremony. Although it is not everyone's cup of tea, it is a great way for some people to rearrange time so that there is a minimal gap between the ceremony and the reception. Although it is not everyone's cup of tea, it is a great way for some people. And for the rest of us, it's a wonderful chance to turn a public scene into something adorable and intimate by taking some stunning alternative photographs.
When it comes down to it, the point of taking bridal portraits is what determines how long they take to complete. I would recommend setting aside at least sixty to ninety minutes for the bridal reveal portraits if you want to cut down on the time between the ceremony and the reception while still getting good photos. This way, you not only get some adorable bridal to reveal portraits, but you also have time to take some of the more traditional portraits with and/or without your bridal party and family.
This is a win-win situation for everyone involved. You can spend as little as ten to thirty minutes on this part of the wedding if the purpose of the reveal is simply to make a public moment private and personal. If this is the case, you can devote more time to taking portraits at a later time.
This is probably one of my favourite parts of the wedding photography, and it's also the time when your wedding photographer has the most opportunity to show off their skills. the time to take pictures of the family, the bridal party, and any romantic or natural moments you want to remember forever. Now is the time to make the most of all of the beautiful settings at your ceremony, reception, and surrounding areas.
I always recommend beginning with the larger groups first, such as families, so that guests do not feel as though they are "forced to wait around for photos." This will ensure that guests do not feel obligated to wait. Then, give them permission to leave while we take portraits of the bridal party, and after that, give them permission to leave completely while we take a few more intimate and romantic portraits of just the two of you together. In a perfect world, I would have about 90 minutes to take portrait photos, but you can take as much time as you want with each subject!
I would suggest adding a little bit more time between the ceremony and the reception if you have a large family, want to use several different locations, or just want a larger collection of photos. This is the case when I would recommend adding the extra time. You could also take advantage of the reception time to sneak away for some "magic hour," sunset, or twilight portraits, or you could use a bridal reveal to get some additional portraits taken before the ceremony. Both of these options are viable alternatives.
At the reception, you can let your hair down and celebrate what an incredible day this is going to be for you. The cutting of the cake, the first dance, the speeches, the tossing of the bouquet, and the exit from the reception are all important moments. And let's not forget, this is a fantastic opportunity to capture some candid portraits of the guests who are there to celebrate this special day with you!
For some people, photographing the entirety of the reception can become prohibitively expensive or overwhelming; in this scenario, my advice is to spend no more than thirty to sixty minutes with your photographer at the location of the reception. You will be able to take photos of "fake" cake cutting and the first dance, as well as small detail shots of the gorgeous decor and set-up that you have spent so much time planning.
All of this can be done while avoiding the expense of having to pay your photographer to stay for an additional 3-6 hours. If you want the photographer to stay longer so that they can capture all of the important details, you should ask the venue where the reception is being held for a running order of the day or night. That will provide you with the most accurate estimation of how long you should keep your photographer at the reception to capture everything that is significant to you.
It is my general recommendation that you make every effort to finish the speeches, the cutting of the cake, and the first dance by 9 or 9:30 p.m. This will ensure that your older guests and those who are travelling with children will not miss out on these memorable moments even if they have to leave earlier.
WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY BUDGET
The real decision is often the wedding budget (boo budgets!). If your budget is tight and you want an all-day wedding photographer, you may have to compromise. Choose a smaller hourly package or a budget photographer (possibly a newer photographer building their portfolio). We advise caution when choosing a photographer based on price, as there are many bad apples and horror stories. You usually get what you pay for. Weddings are final.
If you must choose, choose a quality photographer for fewer hours. We think professional photos are better than none. Rethink your photography budget. Can categories be shuffled? Weddings often waste money, so spend it on what matters most to you. In 10 years, will it matter if your cutlery was silver and not rose gold, if your cake had 1 less tier, etc. In 10 years, you'll still love your wedding photos.
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CEREMONY LENGTH AND RECEPTION TIMELINE
The length of your ceremony and reception will affect your photographer's hours. A civil ceremony may last 20-30 minutes, but a catholic church wedding can last over an hour. Suppose you want your reception's cake cutting, speeches, and first dance photographed. The timing of these events will affect your wedding photographer's end time. Discuss "normal" timings with your celebrant/priest and venue coordinator.
The average modern ceremony lasts 20-30 minutes, but some are an hour or longer. This depends on your ceremony. After the ceremony, photos like certificate signing, a group photo of guests, and you being congratulated as you walk up the aisle can add time. So you're covered, add 40-60 minutes to your ceremony time. 20-30 minutes for me to arrive early, set up, and photograph guests, decor, and the groom. Then 20-30 minutes for certificate signing, announcements, guest hugs, and a group photo.
WEDDING LOCATIONS AND TRAVEL
On the day of your wedding, the hours that your wedding photographer is scheduled to work continue without break or interruption. To tell you the truth, the only significant period of "downtime" or time when they won't be shooting is when they are travelling from one location to another.
Therefore, if the location of your wedding ceremony is 30 minutes away from the location where you will be getting ready for the ceremony, and then the ceremony location is 30 minutes away from the venue where you will be having your reception, then immediately one hour of your photography coverage hours will be allocated to travel time.
When determining how long you should hire your wedding photographer for, it is imperative that you take into account the amount of time required to travel between the various wedding locations.
Finally, travel times. Travel time is often overlooked. Ten minutes here and there can cut into your photography time or make you late. Once you know how long you want to spend on photography, add travel time between locations. Adding up all your times will tell you how long to hire a wedding photographer. Don't forget to include car and park time.
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Make room! This is crucial. Pad your wedding timeline at each stage. Whether it's Flowergirl dress dramas, late guests, long speeches, or family members disappearing during family portraits, something will likely disrupt your perfectly planned timeline.
Your photographer must also arrive early. If you want them to say capture bride prep and are coming from the bride’s house, unlike the bride who can get dropped right at the ceremony door and be ready to walk down the aisle, your photographer will need to park, get gear to the ceremony location, have a quick chat to celebrant/priest, capture some photos of details, guests & groom waiting, and then be ready for your arrival. Schedule time for the pre-ceremony photographer.
Also, weddings take longer. In our experience, 10 minutes between the ceremony and a bridal portrait location usually means 20-30 minutes. Besides trying to escape your beautiful guests wanting to continue to congratulate you, then trying to round up bridal party members, coordinate with transport drivers, jumping in and out of a car isn’t always that easy (especially if the bride is in a big gown) (especially if the bride is in a big gown). After you get out of the car (slowly so not to get dress caught), take a moment to do touch-ups or veil straightening etc., and then don’t forget that walking in new heels can make everything a bit slower… 10 minutes later than you estimated.
Bottom line, don’t forget to allow padding time into your hour estimates. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
Every single wedding is unique, and while some are lavish affairs, others are more intimate affairs. The number of hours that you should hire a wedding photographer for is entirely contingent on the aspects of your big day that you want to be documented, as well as the locations, travel times, and length of the ceremony itself. As a service to all of the lovely brides and grooms out there, the purpose of this post is to provide you with a better idea of how much time you can expect to spend on each aspect of your photography.