Wedding Photography Coverage How Many Hours Do I Need

Bride and groom under an arch posing for their wedding photos.

How many hours of wedding photography coverage a couple needs, truly depends on the wedding couple themselves. Each couple is unique in their wants and desires for their wedding day. Their wedding planning and budgets are also different as are their timelines. Their timeline depends on what they have planned for their wedding day. There truly is no one package fits all in my eyes when it comes to wedding photography coverage.

Many wedding photographers have wedding packages that are based on hourly coverage. Wedding photographers also usually have a minimum cap of hourly coverage, mine is 3 hours. Some photographers will design custom packages aswell, as do I. Another thing to consider is travel. If you have more then one wedding venue and different locations for formal photos, most wedding coverage packages are continuous. Travel times will be added to your coverage between locations.

2, 4, 6, 8 Hours of Wedding Photography Coverage

The most common format for wedding photography coverage is 4, 6 and 8 hours in wedding packages. As a general guideline, when discussing packages with my clients, I ask a lot of questions. Their answers will allow a rough timeline to develop for their wedding day. This helps me determine how many hours they truly need depending on what is most important to them coverage wise. There are portions of a wedding day that will always be set in stone. The wedding ceremony itself, the coverage I require for wedding formal photos, the dinner and the speeches.

A bride and groom walk down the aisle after their wedding ceremony at White Point in NS.

2 to 3 Hours of Coverage

In my many years of experience, 2-3 hours is usually the absolute minimum most wedding couples will require. As most desire at bare minimum their wedding ceremony, family formals and wedding party photos to be captured. The ceremony wedding coverage truly depends on the wedding couple. Some couples want a short simple ceremony, 20 minutes. Where others may have a larger church wedding ceremony that can be up to an hour in length or longer. As a general rule, I require a bare minimum of 1.5 to 2 hours for family and wedding party photos. Then I add their ceremony timeframe to that coverage.

4 to 8 Hours of Coverage

Two to three hours of this coverage will always be the wedding ceremony and wedding formal photos as noted above. So here are some questions I ask my clients to help determine what coverage is most important to them. Along the way I educate my clients on how much time is needed for these things. This will allow them to determine how many hours they truly need for themselves.

Your Wedding Day Plans and My Questions

Use the questions below to help you build a rough timeline of the hourly wedding coverage you will need. These questions will also allow you to answer whether or not you may need a second photographer as well. Each question will have an allotted amount of hourly coverage attached to it. Decide together what aspects are most important to you photography coverage wise.

Are you a couple that wants the entire day covered, not a single moment missed?

If so, opt for the largest amount of hourly coverage a wedding photographer offers. This is usually an 8 hour day.

Are you a couple that wants the bridal prep covered?

The wedding dresses, wedding invitation with the wedding shoes for the bride and bridal bouquet.

Consider if you are a bride that wants your hair and makeup captured, this will take about 2 hours. During this two hour period is when I am usually capturing still photography of the bride’s dress, flowers, shoes etc. The only change to this is if we are at a salon, at which point I move stills to the getting ready portion of the day. Still photography usually takes me about an hour to complete. My second photographer is capturing the candid moments going on in the room while I attend to the stills.

Perhaps you are a bride that only wants candids of your bridesmaids in robes getting into their wedding attire? Allow for 2 hours for this. If you are a bride who wants the entire bridal prep covered, you’re looking at 4 hours of wedding coverage.

The bridal prep prior to the wedding ceremony of the bride getting ready at Digby Pines Resort in Nova Scotia.

Are you a couple that wants the groom prep covered?

There are many groom’s that really don’t like having their photos taken. Many that are really not interested in this aspect of wedding day coverage. However, there are many brides that want this coverage of their groom getting ready. This is a decision best made between the wedding couple. But in general, allow 45 minutes to one hour for this coverage. Don’t have a second photographer that can do this while the bridal prep is going on? Wedding coverage has increased to 5 hour with bridal prep now. This is one reason I work with a second photographer. My second photographer goes to the groom while I stay with the bride. This allows their timeline to stay at the 4 hour mark max and not miss a single moment.

The groom getting a hair cut at Sailor Bup's in Halifax.

Are you a couple that wants a first look?

Some couples desire a private moment with each other prior to walking down the aisle. Other couples want to keep the suspense for that traditional walk down the aisle. In any event, allow 15 to 30 minutes if you wish to have a first look.

Halifax wedding photographer and videographer captures the first look of the bride and groom.

Are you a couple that wants a short or long ceremony?

Some couples desire a short and simple ceremony, usually twenty minutes. Others prefer the longer wedding ceremony 1-1.5 hours at times.

Are you a couple who wants a receiving line?

The next question I am always asked by clients, what is a receiving line. A receiving line follows the ceremony. The wedding party lines up and guests walk through the line, congratulating the bride and groom. The time needed for a receiving line will depend largely on your guest count. 100-150 guests allow at minimum 45 minutes. 50 guests allow 20-30 minutes. Perhaps you are a couple who doesn’t want something quite so formal. If so, I usually add a 20 minute buffer. Couples rarely get away from the ceremony location immediately. It’s inevitable that people will try and stop the bride and groom to congratulate them.

The bride and groom's receiving line during their wedding at the Old Orchard Inn's Heritage Barn in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Are you a couple who wants a cocktail hour during your wedding formal photos time?

Some couples may opt for a cocktail hour. This usually happens during the timeframe they are getting their formal wedding photos captured. Do you want this covered? Do you have a second photographer who can capture this? Allow for one hour.

Formal family and wedding party photos.

This is a given. Every couple wants this. I have a mandatory 1.5 to 2 hour requirement. However that requirement can change depending on how large the families are. Many photographers will set their own timeframe for these. It’s a good idea to ask the photographer being considered what their requirements are.

The bride and groom with the wedding party posing for wedding photos in a boat, bride kissing a groomsmen and groom drinking alcohol during a backyard wedding in Halifax.

Dinner and Speeches

Dinner is another portion of the day that is usually set in stone by your venue. I always allow one hour for dinner. Speeches depend entirely on how many people the couple will have speaking. Two to five people, allow fifteen to thirty minutes for speeches.

Are you a couple who will be cutting the wedding cake?

Believe it or not there are couples who don’t cut a wedding cake. Cupcakes are all the rage right now it seems. If you are that couple who wants the traditional cutting and feeding of the cake, allow 15 minutes for this.

The bride and groom cut their wedding cake and then feed each other during their wedding reception at Juno Tower in Halifax.

Are you a couple who will be having a first dance aswell as parent dances?

First dance is almost another given. I’ve never covered a wedding that didn’t have a first dance. It is usually no more then five minutes in duration. As for the parent dances? Will the father/daughter dance and mother/son dance be together or seperate? Allow five minutes if they are performed together, ten minutes if they are separate.

The bride and groom during their wedding first dance at Ashburn Golf Club.

Are you a couple who loves to play games? The shoe game perhaps?

If you are a couple who loves to play games and want this captured. Make sure you time your games and add that time to your wedding photography coverage.

Are you a couple who will be having a bouquet and garter toss?
Bride and groom during the wedding garter toss at their wedding reception at the Salmon River Fire Brigade in Nova Scotia.

Not all brides and grooms choose to have a bridal bouquet or garter toss. If you are couple who wants this allow 15 minutes for each. If the garter catcher decides to put the garter on the leg of the lady who caught the bridal bouquet, add another five minutes:)

The guy who catched the garter tries to put the garter on the lady who caught the bouquet at a Juno Tower wedding in Halifax, NS.

I truly hope this blog post helps to answer the question of how much wedding photography coverage couples will need. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer who will help you answer these questions. Also help build a timeline with you every step of the way, I am your gal!

Capturing your L❤VE story is my passion…let’s chat!

Additional Links

1. Check out some of my favorite wedding advise blog posts…
Planning A Nova Scotia Wedding-a 12 months timeline
NS Wedding Venues Plus Tips For Choosing the Perfect Venue
Creating A Wedding Timeline With Samples
Do You Need A Second Photographer?
Average Cost of a Wedding Photographer

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