I see brides asking this question all the time on wedding forums, and the answers, they vary from person to person. Some people only want the basics; some want the whole shebang. Who’s right, what should you do? I thought I would weigh in with my own opinion as a wedding photographer with a few tips.
What’s important for you to be covered?
Think about the photographs that are important to you. Do you want to have candids of all your guests celebrating that they can then view and share later? Do you want to capture that sparkler exit as you say goodbye? Do you want the moments everybody starts getting ready; the gorgeous “makeup” styled beauty shots; hairdressing and details? Or is it simply important that the crucial moments are covered? The I-dos and the kiss? What about the cake, your first dance and your first moments alone as newlyweds?
There really is no 100% right or 100% wrong answer to this question, since It will vary for everybody. But what’s important is you consider all angles – you don’t want to fast forward 1 year down the line and sincerely regret that you didn’t have someone around to get stunning photographs of that amazing exit you had planned, your father-daughter dance or the intimate moment you shared later in the evening.
My personal opinion is that for most weddings, 6-9 hours covers everything important. This provides enough time to capture the gorgeous “getting ready” snaps, the arrival, the venue, the ceremony, the kiss, group photos, photographs of your first moments as newlyweds, the reception venue, the meal, the evening arrival, the bouquet/garter toss, cutting the cake, your first dance, your father/daughter/mother/son dance, and a little bit of the evening disco as everyone starts to get merry and the funny shots happen! That would all be covered within 6-9 hours of photography. Coverage and shots after that generally capture a lot of hilarious drunk photos followed by your exit as newlyweds (big, small, sparkler, firework, whatever you’re doing – is it something you want photographed?)
Sometimes couples also ask, “I’m only having a small wedding with very few guests, wont this make everything much shorter” and I’d have to stress – no. I’ve very rarely seen the number of guests affect the timescale of a wedding day – unless perhaps you’re having over 150 guests and everyone moves very, very slowly from place to place. (Not that wedding guests ever really move that fast, make sure you allow enough time to coordinate everybody for photographs – trust me, they can be tricky and slow!) There might be perhaps a very slight decrease in time taken for very small weddings, but really it would be very slight and under an hour at best.
A good thing to consider also is: “How many hour’s photography do I need for each place?” and my standard recommendation is: 1 – 1.5 hour’s bridal preparations, 30 minutes travel time, 45 minutes ceremony, 30-60 minutes group & couple photographs, 20 minutes speeches, 45 mins break at the wedding meal, 30 minutes arrival, 1 hr evening celebrations including toasts, cutting the cake, tosses, dances and such and then around 1 hour of disco coverage to get the fun disco shots. (This averages out around 7-8 hours but with how weddings work, can end up being anything between 6 and 9 hours! Which is the standard package I offer.) If you want coverage after this, I’d suggest getting 10+ hours to cover til closing time and your exit!
I hope this article has been useful to those of you planning a wedding and stressing over your photographer! Remember to breathe and have fun planning this wedding, your big day only happens once! Please feel free to leave a comment if you found this helpful!