How many hours of photography coverage do you need on your wedding day?

I get this question all the time: How many hours of photography coverage do I need on my wedding day? What is the answer? Well, it depends. Most wedding days require at least 8 hours of coverage, but there are questions you may want to ask yourself in the wedding planning process that could affect that number.

hours of photography coverage on your wedding day

6 questions to ask yourself in the wedding planning process

  1. Do we want to plan a grand exit? If we do, do we want it photographed?
  2. Are pictures of our wedding details (rings, invitations, etc.) important to us?
  3. Do we want beautiful wedding portraits? Do we want them to be during daylight?
  4. Is our ceremony and reception at two different places?
  5. Are we getting ready at a location separate from our ceremony and/or reception location?
  6. Is it important to us to have a religious wedding ceremony?

Maybe those questions don’t seem related to one another, but they all greatly affect your wedding day timeline. And, therefore, it affects the number of hours of photography coverage you will need on your wedding day. Let’s go through each question one by one and why it matters.

1. Do we want to plan a grand exit? If we do, do we want it photographed?

sparkler grand exit at summer virginia wedding
sparkler grand exit at maryland wedding

Grand exits at your wedding can be a super fun way to close out an amazing night. They may not be great for the wedding couple that wants to close down the place and then host the after party at a bar down the street. But, they are a great option to finish the night with some fun. What most people don’t know is that photography coverage on a wedding day typically ends after about the first hour of dancing during the reception. Why? Because we want to limit the number of blackmail photos you have of your guests. Just kidding! But actually, dancing pictures start to look the same after more than about an hour.

So, if your goal is to enjoy a memorable exit, and you decide that you want it photographed, this may mean purchasing additional hours of coverage from your photographer. How many hours? Well, that depends how early the day starts, and how long your reception is. I would say in most cases, you would need an extra one to two hours of coverage to have your grand exit photographed. So, this would end up being about ten hours of coverage. But, then you have the photos to last for generations!

2. Are pictures of our wedding details important to us?

wedding details virginia photographer

Wedding details are one of my many favorite things to photograph on a wedding day. But, they take time to capture! All of my wedding timelines include one hour for me to capture your beautiful wedding details. These images do a special job of recording all the details that made your day FEEL the way that it did. When you look back on your wedding day, of course you want pictures in your wedding attire, and pictures with your guests. But, you have put so much time into planning this day, from your wedding shoes, to your invitations, to your something blue, etc. Don’t you want to remember all of it? These details are included in eight hours of coverage!

3. Do we want beautiful wedding portraits? Do we want them to be during daylight?

The key to dreamy wedding portraits that you want to fill your frames is TIME. There has to be time in the timeline to capture them. Photographers are creative, but we aren’t magicians, and we need more than five minutes on your wedding day to capture something truly special. I like to plan for 30 minutes of portrait time with my couples prior to their ceremony (assuming you share a First Look), and then another 30 minutes during golden hour. This is included in eight hours of coverage and doesn’t usually require additional time unless you have a special off site location you would like for your portraits!

4. Is your ceremony and reception at two different places?

Separate wedding ceremony and wedding reception locations are common for religious ceremonies. If your ceremony and reception are within 15 minutes of each other, it’s possible to work it into the typical eight hours of coverage. However, if they are more than 15 minutes apart, you may want to consider adding the transportation time to your total hours of coverage. For example, if your reception location is 30 minutes from your ceremony location, you would want a total of 8.5 hours of coverage. I don’t recommend planning your wedding with a reception venue located further than 30 minutes from your ceremony venue.

5. Are you getting ready at a location separate from our ceremony and/or reception location?

Just like point No. 4, the same goes for accounting for transportation from your getting ready to ceremony location! If you arrange to have your wedding details dropped off at the ceremony location for your photographer, you may not need a longer timeline. However, if you do want those getting ready pictures, you may need to add some time to the 8 hours of coverage to account for transportation to the ceremony venue.

6. Is it important to us to have a religious wedding ceremony?

If you are interested in having a religious ceremony that lasts longer than 30 minutes, this is something to account for in your wedding coverage. If you are having a Catholic Mass, for example, those are one hour. Since most wedding timelines plan for a 30 minute wedding ceremony, you would want to add an additional of 30 minutes of wedding day coverage.

I hope this post helps you figure out how many hours of photography coverage you will need on your wedding day! A lot goes into planning your big celebration. As your wedding photographer, we just want to you to be happy! Let’s plan your wedding coverage so that you get all the photos you want. Cheers!

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August 8, 2021

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