Your wedding day is one of the biggest days in your life, which is why it is so crucial to figure out how many hours of wedding photography you might need! Your wedding photographer is the person who will be capturing all those special moments on your wedding day, so you don’t want them to miss anything important to you. As a wedding photographer and 2022 bride myself, I’m here to help you a little bit with that! So, let’s get into it.
Keep on scrolling if you’re interested in learning more about wedding planning and how many hours of wedding photography you might need on your wedding day!
As a starting point, I usually recommend 8-10 hours. For full wedding day coverage, it’s very rare I go above or below that range. The following questions will help determine where in that range you’ll fall. But let’s start and say you need at least 8 hours of coverage. Below are 4 big questions I ask every couple when planning their wedding timelines:
Although bridal suites are becoming more popular at wedding venues (thankfully!), more often than not, bridal parties get ready somewhere other than their venue or get married at a church apart from the reception. This is important to think about when planning out how much time you need for your photographer. Calculate how long each ride is and if you’ll need to stop anywhere for portraits along the way. When there are 2 or more different locations on a wedding day and drive time between each one, you’ll likely need to add another hour (at least).
A first look between you and your partner can actually save you some time in your timeline so you may not need as many hours! With a first look, you can get all the formal pictures (portraits of the two of you, bridal party portraits, and even family portraits) done before the ceremony even starts. Then you can get to the party sooner and not have to have your photographer stay longer to capture all those pictures later in the day.
Some ceremonies take longer than others especially if you are including certain traditions. I’ve found that the majority of ceremonies I photograph are not very long (about 30 minutes max) but can definitely exceed an hour if you have something like Catholic mass as a part of your ceremony, for example. Talk to your partner and officiant to plan out your ceremony and see how long it might be. If it’s longer than the standard 30 minutes, you’ll want to consider adding some time to your wedding photography coverage.
Maybe you really love getting ready and detail shots. Or maybe you want lots of pictures during the reception! If you’re set on having lots of coverage of both, you might want to think about adding some hours so everything can be captured. Usually in an 8 hour day there’s just not enough time to get more than the tail end of getting ready and more than the first 30-45 minutes of dancing at a reception.
Another thing to think about: Are you and your partner planning on having a grand exit? If so, this is something you should think about when figuring out how many hours of photography you’ll need. Your photographer can then stay until after the grand exit at the end of the night. It is possible to stage a grand exit earlier in the night, but you’ll still need your photographer there later than you might have with no grand exit. Keep in mind that staged exits too soon in the night tend to kill the party a bit sometimes.
To simplify it, most of my 8 hour wedding days have: 1-2 locations (usually a getting ready spot and a venue that hosts both the ceremony and reception a short drive- less than 20 minutes- away). They also usually have a first look, about a 30 minute ceremony, and don’t require me to stay super late for a grand exit.
A 10 hour day of wedding photography coverage for me usually has: 2-3 spots (a getting ready spot, a different ceremony spot, and a third venue for the reception) and ceremonies between 30-60 minutes. Even with a first look, you’ll probably need at least 9 hours of wedding photography coverage in this scenario.
I love helping my clients plan their timelines! It’s actually one of the first things I start planning after booking, so definitely ask your photographer for their input about how many hours of wedding photography coverage you might need!
If you enjoyed reading this blog about “How many hours of photography do I need?”, make sure to check out my most recent wedding blog post! If you’re looking for someone to capture your day and help you plan your timeline, click here to contact me!
“Sydney is so awesome to work with! She took so much stress off of us as a photographer, helping us plan for our wedding day. Her pictures are beautiful and she makes it so easy to be in front of the camera!”
-Jayln and Nick