So you’ve just gotten engaged and now you’re planning your wedding… Yay! This is such a fun time in your life, enjoy it! The first step is to book your venue! Your date isn’t your date unless you’ve signed on the dotted line with your venue. Then, you can begin the rest of the planning! Congratulations on your engagement, by the way!
A question we get asked a lot is: “How much time do I need for my Wedding Photography”? Or, “Is 8 hours enough time”? Well, that depends on what’s important to you! Let’s break it down…
Every Wedding Photographer is different on the way they price, offer packages, and what they consider “all day wedding photography”. Some photographers won’t set foot on your wedding without a minimum of 8 hours. This is for many reasons, but most importantly: being able to tell your story, capture all the moments, have time to be creative, cover the main parts of the reception, and allow for cushion time in case something goes wrong and backs up the timeline. Trust us, you should plan for this! It happens all the time! We’ve seen a dress zipper malfunction that needs to be sewn, the veil missing, and the Groom forgetting his shirt at home set the timeline back at least 30 minutes!
The common misunderstanding most brides have when they book their wedding photographer is this: “My wedding ceremony starts at 5pm and we have the venue until 11pm. Therefore, I need 6 hours of coverage”. What you need to know is that Wedding Photography starts a MINIMUM of 3 hours before your ceremony. Most, even 4 hours before; especially if you’re planning a First Look or if your photographer has to travel from your getting ready location to your ceremony location and/or to your reception location.
What I tell my brides all the time is this: The majority of your photos that you will print, put on canvas, and select to be in your heirloom album are typically the ones from the first 4-5 hours of the day. This is because your Getting Ready, Details (florals, dresses, venue, rings, trinkets, shoes, memoirs, etc.), Formal Bridal, Formal Groom, Wedding Parties, and First Look (optional) photos are all taken before the ceremony start time. All these images are also typically finished 30-45 minutes before the ceremony so that the Bride can hide from guests arriving, touch up on her make-up, and hang out with her girls.
How Much Time Do YOU Need?
So the question then isn’t as much “How much time do I need?”, as it is: “What’s important to you when it comes to your photography”? Most brides have one big thing in mind, BUDGET. So when you’ve found the vendor you love, and you’re trying to make sure your event is covered, all while keeping the budget in mind, then you have to decide what is important to YOU.
- 8 Hours: If you’re planning on lots of fun and dancing, and the main parts of the reception are important to you (and for most brides, they are); with good timeline planning and an 8 hour package (The Hearts Desire), you will be sure to have all the precious memories covered from your First Dance, Daddy-Daughter Dance, Cake Cutting, Toasts, Bouquet Toss, Shoe Game, Line Dancing, and the like! Hey, you’ve worked for MONTHS to plan this! Of course, it’s important!
- 9-10 Hours: If you want all day complete coverage that will ensure even your Formal Exit (Sparklers, Bubbles, Fireworks, etc.) gets the attention it needs, then you want AT LEAST 9 hours of coverage (The Most Popular or The Heirloom) and may even need 10 hours.
- 6 Hours: Do you want just enough coverage for the Getting Ready, Bride & Groom Portraits, Bridal Party, Ceremony, and Family Formals, with maybe just an hour or so to cover the beginning of the Reception (The Essentials)? Then 6 hours should suffice… As long as you are OK knowing that some things just won’t get covered (mainly reception); such as your bouquet toss and big sparkler send-off. The bonus to The Essentials Package is that it’s also a great way to get the photographer of your dreams, all the photos you’ll want, and still keep within your budget!
- If you’re planning a traditional ethnic Indian or Middle Eastern wedding, then you’ll need several days of coverage.
Typically 3/4’s of our Brides & Groom’s chose to have 9 hours of coverage with the option to add additional hours as we start timeline planning. We can also plan a faux-exit with just the bridal party during our last hour of coverage. This ensures you get the Sparkler Exit shot, and that the party gets to keep going… because no one will even notice you’re gone while they’re dancing away!
It all really comes down to what’s important to you! For Rick & I, two things were important to us on our wedding day: our Photography and our DJ (dancing all night)! We knew we would splurge on those two things and find ways to save in the budget elsewhere. Stay tuned on Tips on Budgeting your Wedding!
For more planning tips (even budget advice), check out the Wedding Planning Tips section of our blog!
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