How Many Hours of Wedding Photography Do I Need?
Updated: Mar 25, 2019
Weddings are expensive, so it's important to save money where you can. Often, wedding photography rates are based in whole or in part on the number of hours of coverage. I try to help my couples cut costs by encouraging them to really think through just how many hours they might need on their big day. Sometimes it's hard to know how to schedule your photographer so you capture all of the most important events, without paying for time you don't need. Read on for advice from a wedding photographer's point of view.
Identify and prioritize the most important moments you'd like captured by a professional. Browse Pinterest, bridal magazines, friends' wedding albums, and consider images you'd most want to see hanging on your own walls or commemorated in your own wedding album.
Those shots of you and your bridesmaids in your cluttered hotel room, drinking mimosas and working on your hair- are they "must have", or "nice to have"? Will they make it to the wedding album, or would some iPhone snaps for your Instagram meet your needs? Some bridal parties prefer not to have this time captured by a professional, particularly if they're getting ready in a space that's small and already crowded. Others enjoy looking back on all of the informal fun, seeing the looks of anticipation on everyone's faces as they prepare for the main event.
Reception pictures can start to look similar after a few hours of dancing. Will you love reliving the party as you sift through the images, or will you put these on the shelf to gather dust? Will you have sparklers, or some other grand exit you want to remember? Would you like to sneak away with your bride/groom near the end of the reception for some creative and fun night photos?
You may feel very differently than your friends did about the wedding images you want to have professionally captured. And that's okay. What matters is what images YOU value.
Once you've identified your most important images, consider your overall wedding day timeline. Typically, you'll want to ensure there's enough time scheduled before the ceremony so you can knock out some of the shots which don't require both the bride and groom to be in them at the same time. That way you have fewer photos to fit in after the ceremony. Keep in mind that some shots may require additional lighting to set up, which takes time as well.
Lastly, carefully consider your list of group photos (typically taken after the ceremony, during cocktail hour). The longer the list, the longer it takes to get through them. So you may need to schedule more time after the ceremony for photos in order to fit everything in (or narrow down the list to avoid group photo fatigue). And don't forget to save ample time for photos of just you and your new spouse, since those will be likely be the ones you're most excited to print and share.
Before finalizing your wedding day schedule, talk to your photographer. Make sure she knows the most important images you want captured, and she can give you realistic estimates of how long that might take. Then you can select a package of wedding photography that fits your needs...and your budget.