How many hours of coverage do I need?
This is a tricky, albeit common, question! Best practice is sitting down with your photographer, talking through all of the details of your day, and asking them to draft up a timeline.
In general, most weddings need a minimum of 8 hours of coverage to cover all of the basics.
That said, I will emphasize again: communicate with your photographer! If you have a wedding planner, they too will have strategic input and can coordinate with your photographer and other vendors. Always refer to your vendor professionals (even over tips you may read online, as those are never couple-specific!) because they are invested in you, your day, and maximizing your experience.
I offer three different wedding collections, which offer different amounts of coverage. My middle collection offers the standard 8 hours, while my top collection offers 10 hours. There is also an option to add on coverage. A few elements that may affect your timeline include:
- Preparation Photos: If you’re like me, you absolutely love the “getting ready” photos. You would love a few shots of your dress hanging up, your shoes, jewelry, flowers, and other details that you meticulously dreamed and planned. You also may want images of your mom, sisters or bridesmaid helping you into your dress, making last minute touches, etc. And don’t forget about the boys! Often times they are playing a game or just shooting the breeze, as it only takes them a few minutes to get “ready.” Either way, it’s fun to have candids of their process, too!
- Location: consider where you are getting ready, getting married, and having your reception. Some couples plan all three of these to be at the same location, while others have three different ones. Also consider if there is a special outdoor park you’d like to take photos. The commute time, along with coordination of groups of people, needs to be sufficient. I always plan in extra cushion time, just in case.
- First Look: you may have seen in this post how planning a First Look may affect your timeline. In general it will help with the flow of the day, as well as efficiency regarding group photos. Click on the article for a bit more info!
- Some brides also love the idea of an extra First Look with their dad! We don’t typically need as long for this one, but an extra block of 10 minutes is good to plan.
- Ceremony + Cocktail Hour: consider the length of your ceremony, as well as your post-ceremony plans. I have seen ceremonies run anywhere from 15 minutes to 90 minutes. Also consider this: are guests ushered directly into a cocktail hour, or will they have a few hours to kill before your reception?
- Special Reception Plans: Typically I stay about 45 minutes into the dance. This allows for great coverage of the First Dance, Mother-Son, and Father-Daughter dances. It also allows me to capture some fun candids of your wedding party and family members enjoying the party! If you plan anything extra like shoe game, garter or bouquet toss, or even a sparkler send-off, those require extra time. A sparkler sendoff in particular requires an extra block of 20-30 minutes, depending on how many guests you want to include. This winter I will be blogging some specific tips on how to get the most out of your sparkler exit!
As a wedding photographer I am constantly learning and growing! I will continue to add in more considerations and tips so that you feel informed and confident as your big day approaches. Each wedding I photograph is a little bit different, and this allows for an exciting learning curve and new strategies learned every single time! I hope these four considerations have helped you today. Let me know if you have any I should add, and in the meantime check out this article on posing!