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How many hours do you actually NEED a photographer on your wedding day?

I’m going to help you determine approximately how many hours of wedding photography coverage you’ll need, whether you’re just now starting to plan your wedding or if you’ve already paid for a full day of photography but are downsizing or adjusting your timeline due to COVID restrictions.

We all look for that sweet spot between what you get and how much you want to spend, so I’ll give examples of a few different types of weddings and how much photography I would recommend for each scenario.

first things first…

You may not realize that wedding photography pricing doesn’t just include hours present at the event; it also accounts for editing time and (often) paying a second photographer, as well as albums, downloads, etc. Look at the complete package and what it includes rather than just the price tag – this blog post will help you make an informed decision!

Psst – My wedding photography coverage matches all of the ones described below! I still have a few Saturdays available in 2020 and am now booking for 2021. I also offer discounts for non-Saturday weddings. Fill out a contact form at the end if you’d like me to save your date, or click here!

scenario A: the micro wedding

For a small wedding of under 50 people, I’m picturing a very low-key, nontraditional couple that gets married outdoors and just wants to say “We do” and have food and drinks with close family and friends.

The couple might be getting ready at their own home, may or may not have a wedding party, and does want family/friend and wedding couple portraits, but since there aren’t a lot of people, the formalities won’t take long. Here, the best images captured will be candid ones – the image below details how that time can be used for all the important moments!

scenario B: the mid-sized / traditional wedding

For a mid-sized wedding (let’s say 50-150 people), I’m imagining a couple who likes the format of a traditional wedding day but wants to keep it relatively small (or has to because of current guidelines).

They will most likely have a wedding party that gets ready together, a traditional ceremony and reception, complete with a cocktail hour and probably has a DJ to pump up the party!

Having more guests also means it’s a good idea to build in more buffer time for formal portraits and in case of any delays getting ready.

My recommendation: 6-8 hours photography (the average coverage for most weddings)

The image below shows more photography time before the ceremony, time for a first look, perhaps a longer ceremony time or more family photos to take, and more time during the reception as well.

scenario C: the full-on wedding with all the bells + whistles

If you don’t want to worry too much about running behind on your timeline, or if you just absolutely want every second of your wedding day to be documented because IT’S YOUR PARTY, I recommend a FULL-DAY wedding photography package. 

The image below shows even more moments that can be documented with a full day of coverage, as well as some benefits of full day photography, mainly that you will end up worrying less about your timeline because you know you’ve got the photographer until you and your spouse go home at the end of the night!

scenario D: I already paid for a full day of wedding photography, but now my wedding plans are much shorter or taking place on two different days. What should I do???

Photographers are working hard right now trying to accommodate and reschedule couples as they change plans based on current events. If you end up not needing as many hours of coverage, ask your photographer what other options are available instead. It might be a safe option to keep the full day just in case you end up being able to go through with your original plans. Either way, you’ll probably want to stick with at least 4 hours of coverage (micro wedding scenario above).

Here are some ideas you can ask your photographer about in case you end up needing less photography time – you’ll need to check your contract and discuss with your photographer, but I personally have offered some of these alternatives to my couples and wanted to share them in case they are helpful to you 🙂

I hope seeing different types of weddings and coverage examples is helpful for those of you planning or replanning your wedding festivities to better understand what you might need.

Have questions or want to discuss what else my wedding photography packages include and availability? Fill out a contact form below and I’ll be in touch!

johanna elise

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