A lot of brides tell me during their consultations that they aren’t sure how many hours they need when it comes to wedding photography. Is 12 hours too much? Is 8 hours going to be enough? There are tons of factors that go into deciding just how many hours of wedding photography you’re going to need for your wedding day. This blog post should help give you a better idea of just how many hours you’ll need.
Deciding on how many hours you need is a big choice, you definitely don’t want to over pay for hours you don't need, but you also don’t want to not have enough coverage and miss out on important moments during your special day! There’s a right number for every wedding, but ultimately it comes down to what you want.
I have packages that range from 6 hours of coverage to 12 hours of coverage because everyone’s needs are different. This is how I usually break down the hours of coverage to my brides.
6 hours is the bare minimum I recommend for a traditional ceremony/reception wedding. This is for the bride who wants some photos to remember the day, but may be more price sensitive or doesn’t consider the photos to be super important to the day. Usually this works well for small, intimate weddings with limited family photos. A good chunk of the day for wedding photography is taken up by immediate family and extended family photos. If you have a small family and aren’t worried about having photos of you getting ready or photos later in the reception, 6 hours would probably be a good fit for you!
My second most popular package is my 8 hour package. I usually recommend 8 hours to my brides who want to have photos from each part of the day, but aren’t really concerned about either having a ton of getting ready photos or a ton of reception photos. 8 hours works well for couples with small extended families as well, leaving you plenty of time for bridal party photos and couples photos.
10 hours has become my recommended number of hours when it comes to photographing a well rounded wedding. 10 hours of coverage is great because it allows you the flexibility to start early or finish late and make sure you get all the photos that you want. The core portion of your day from the pre-formal portraits through bridal party photos will only take about 5 hours, so with the additional 5 hours you have time for plenty of getting ready photos as well as reception photos.
This is what I would consider full day coverage. Be prepared to have your photographer following you around from the start of the day through the reception. 12+ hours is really for the couple who doesn’t want to miss a minute of their wedding day. Your photographer will likely be there from the second you start getting ready through the majority if not all of the reception. In my opinion, usually this is overkill, but some couples don’t want to miss a single photo op and I can’t fault them for that!
Other Things to Consider
You probably don’t need full reception coverage unless you’re planning a grand exit. Receptions are extremely easy for a photographer to overshoot. You could end up with easily half of your photos coming from the reception. In my opinion, reception photos start to look repetitive after a couple hours of the reception and while they're fun to look back on, you'll probably never print or do anything with them past that. Usually, it’s the same people out on the dance floor for most of the night, and as things start to dwindle later in the night, the photo opportunities start to fade.
Now that we know we probably don’t need a photographer for the whole reception, start from 1-2 hours after you finish the events at your reception and count backwards to the beginning of the day. How many hours does it take to get back to you getting ready? That’s a good place to start with estimating the number of hours you’ll need. Your photographer can probably advise you as to if that number sounds realistic or not.
If you’re on the fence about doing a first look, I’ll also throw out that first looks help speed up the day. You can get probably 40-60% of the portraits out of the way before the ceremony even starts. Then after the ceremony you don’t have as many photos to squeeze in before the reception, which means likely less hours of photography and getting to the party sooner! If you’re on the fence about a first look, consider reading my other post “5 Reasons to do a First Look at Your Wedding”.
Hopefully this helped give you a better idea of how to better estimate how much time you’ll need with your photographer on your wedding day. If you’re still unsure, feel free to reach out to me for a complimentary consultation where I can help better assess your needs! Happy photographer hunting!
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