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How Many Hours of Wedding Photography do You Need?

May 29, 2021


One of my most frequently asked questions is, “How many hours of wedding photography coverage do I really need?”


I understand how confusing this can be because many photographers offer packages in the ranges of 6, 8 or 10+ hours.  Some just specify “half-day” or “full-day.” And what does that exactly mean? “All day coverage” may mean 12 hours to one photographer, but only 8 hours to another. It’s important to ask specific questions when finding a photographer, so you know exactly what you’re getting.


For standard weddings, I personally recommend 8 hours minimum because it’s just enough time to fit in all the important events (the tail-end getting ready portion of the day through 30-40 mins of dance floor coverage). Here is what a standard 8 hour schedule looks like:


12-8PM Sample Wedding Day Timeline

Getting Ready/Detail Photos: 12PM-2PM

First Look: 2PM

Bridal Party Portraits + Couple Portraits:  2:15PM-3:30PM

Head to Ceremony Location/Couple Hides Away Before Ceremony: 3:30PM-4PM

Ceremony: 4PM-4:30PM

Family photos: 4:30-5/5:15PM

Cocktail Hour: 4:30-5:30PM

Bridal Party Grand Entrance: 5:45PM

Toasts: 6PM

Dinner: 6:15PM

Cake Cutting + First Dances: 7PM

Sunset Couple Portraits (if wanted): 7:30PM

Dance Coverage Ends: 8PM


I have found that anything less than 8 hours is just too stressful for couples (unless they are planning a small, elopement style wedding). Most couples typically expect photos of “everything that would normally be captured” during a wedding day, even if they are picking a 6 hour package. Smashing every activity in that amount of time just isn’t realistic since wedding photography coverage is continuous.  Now you may be wondering, well what about 9 or 10 hours? When would you need more time? You may want to consider 9 or 10 hours of coverage if:

-Your ceremony & reception are far away from each other

-You want to photograph a “reception exit” (ex: sparklers, bubbles, etc)

-You have a large wedding party or big family and need more photos than the norm

If you are on the fence about how much coverage you need, too much coverage is far better than too little. You don’t want to be stressing about having not enough time to capture once in a lifetime moments. Sometimes things can get a bit delayed with hair and makeup or any other number of things. Building in a cushion can be a total game changer!

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