How many hours of wedding photography coverage do I need?

Learn how many hours of wedding photography coverage you need for your day.

One of the most common questions we get from couples is “How many hours of wedding photography do I need” …. well, the answer is, it depends. Each wedding is different and while on average there is a minimal number of hours we can suggest, it will fluctuate depending on your wedding day. Today we will share with you the same methods we use to determine an appropriate amount of coverage for our wedding photography clients. 

Photography Coverage Goals

So this may sound like a weird point but it is essential when developing your wedding day timeline and the average cost of wedding photographer. Is your goal just to cover the ceremony or is it to cover your entire day?

From our perspective, in order to tell your story the best we know-how, we have to be there for the entire wedding day. This includes the getting ready portion of the day all the way to the wedding reception exit. Each one of these parts tells your story and when you miss any part, the story is incomplete.

This may not sound like a huge thing except when it comes to your wedding album. The album is the culmination point of the entire day and tells your whole story from start to finish. If you have questions about why you need an album, click HERE.

Savannah Destination photographer shares how many hours of wedding coverage you need for photography.

First Look Wedding Photos

This is without a doubt the most sensitive and controversial part of the wedding planning process. We have had more discussions with our brides over this topic than any other. The issue usually comes down to tradition and/or faith as to why couples opt-out of a first look. The first look came about from the time of arranged marriages where weddings were more considered a business transaction. For a more detailed explanation of the first look click HERE

The first look is a time where a couple sees each other before they are officially married. One of the key advantages to having a first look is the ability to have an intimate moment together before the ceremony. This often removes some of the nerves and allows couples to simply enjoy the day. 

Another perk of a first look is more images and less rush. Since the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony, we can take all of the bridal party pics and start the couples portraits.  This only leaves the family and newlywed photos for after the ceremony. Without a first look, you have to save the bridal party photos, family photos, and all newlywed photos till after the ceremony. This delays the time you enter your wedding reception and, more importantly, your time to eat.

A first look has been shown to save, on average, an hour of time on your wedding day. This can be huge especially during an 8-hour wedding photography timeline. For more info on why you need a first look, click below:

Wedding Locations

The more wedding locations you have, the more photography coverage you will need.  This is the greatest reason why we have to add more hours of coverage onto a wedding day. Let’s look at a real-life example. While we were in Alabama, we had a sweet bride who had her getting ready pictures in a hotel, a ceremony at a church, and a reception at another venue. The amount of driving we did that day and setting up added 2 hours of photography coverage to her wedding day. (Read more HERE)

We understand having everything in one space is not always possible. There are church limitations or your venue just doesn’t have the room. So when you have to have more than one location on your wedding day, make it as few locations as possible.

Hours of wedding photography coverage

In addition, make sure your locations are as close together as possible. This limits driving and set up time. Some couples think set up may take only a few minutes. In some locations this is true, but in most cases, we have to re-meter cameras, assess for lighting, and set up lighting gear. This adds about 20 minutes to each location. Compound that with a 20-minute drive, you’re looking at an additional hour of photography time. In general, if a location is 20 minutes or more away, we add an extra hour of time for each location. See more reasons why you should have your wedding in one location in the video below:

Wedding Reception Exit

Our last point to look at is if the couple will have a formal exit. Typically couples will wait till the last part of the evening to have a formal sendoff and then get into a car and drive off to start their honeymoon. This exit will usually be done with wedding sparklers, wedding exit streamers, or a glow stick wedding exit.

The problem is the time between when the couple gets to the reception and the exit can be up to 4 hours. So how could we save time? Have an exit right after the wedding ceremony. We had a couple try this and it worked out great.

People gathered outside the church with streamers and waved them as they got into the car. Then the couple and guests went to the reception. This allowed the couple not to feel rushed to exit their reception at a certain time. Instead, they spent the rest of the night dancing and enjoying spending time with their friends. To see this full wedding click HERE

HOW LONG DO I NEED Wedding Photography Coverage?

I would highly recommend you start your coverage with at least 9 hours of photography. We find that 9 hours is the answer to about 50% of our client’s timeline. Referring back to the article above; if you have multiple locations, no first look, or a formal exit then you will have to look at adding at least an extra hour. Based on this fact, we found that 10 hours was good enough for about 85% of our wedding day timelines. With only 8 hours, most of our clients end up adding extra coverage to their timeline or sacrificing a part of their day to accommodate the photography coverage. 

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Copyright 2021 Meredith Ryncarz Photography LLC