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How Long to Book Your Photographer

how many hours to book your wedding photographer forSearching for wedding photographers can be an intimidating task. Especially if you aren’t really sure what you are looking for. With all the photography style options and packages available, your head may start swimming. And you may find yourself asking how many hours you should book your wedding photographer for. We are here to help you with this answer.

If you have started your wedding photographer search already, you have seen that many of them offer packages with time limits. It’s important to figure out how many hours you actually need in order to get all of the coverage you want. Booking too few hours could mean missing out on pictures you wanted and would have treasured for a lifetime. While booking too many hours may lead to way more photos (likely reception/dancing photos) than you could possibly ever want or know what to do with.

To start with, most couples who have a standard five-to-six-hour wedding will need about 10 hours of coverage. Many wedding photography packages start with a base of 8 hours (ours do). While this may be enough to cover your entire day, it will be tight and may feel a little rushed to fit everything in. If you don’t want some flexibility in your wedding day timeline and not feel rushed, 10 hours is a great option. If the reception and photographing all your guests partying is important to you, then 12+ hours of coverage will likely be what you need.

When you are talking with your potential wedding photographer, talk about what you hope will be captured from your day. Mention what is most important to you and what you visualize your wedding photography gallery to be. Professional photographers will be able to tell you how many hours of coverage you will need based on you and your wedding plans.

If you are still unsure of how much coverage you will need, here are some questions to ask yourself:

4 Questions to ask yourself to figure out how many hours you should book your wedding photographer for.

Do you want to capture getting ready photos?

Do you want to have those photos of your makeup getting applied and your dress being zipped up? Are you imagining all the cute pictures you will have of you and your girls in your robes popping champagne or sipping on mimosas? If these photos are on your must-have list, then we recommend having your photographer present for your getting ready time for at least two hours. Also, keep in mind that if you and your groom are getting ready at two different locations than you may need more time allocated to the getting ready photos.


Will you be doing a first look?

If you opt out of having a first look, you can schedule your formal photos during the cocktail hour. However, if you want a first look, that will mean adding extra time before your ceremony. The bonus to a first look is that you can also schedule in your formal photos right afterwards. This means you can join your guests during cocktail hour. Do you also want to get your family portraits done before the ceremony? Do you want formals portraits taken at multiple locations? You will need to add in extra time for that too. Have a discussion with your photographer about how much time will be needed to be scheduled prior to your ceremony based on all you want.


How much travel is involved?

Travel time is something that many couples don’t think to include in the timeline for their wedding photographer. But it’s important not to forget it as travel does eat up time. Figure out how much time will need to be allocated to traveling. Are your wedding day events all happening at the same location? Will you be getting ready off location? Having your ceremony at another location, and your reception at a third location? The time it takes to get from one location to the next will all need to be accounted for.


How long is your wedding reception?

Take a look at your wedding reception schedule. Do you have hours of dancing scheduled for the end of the night? Your photographer probably only needs to capture 30-60 minutes of dancing. Things tend to get sloppy and sweaty towards the end of the night. And there are only so many dance photos that can be taken before it becomes repetitive. Are you having a send-off that you want photographed? You will need to book your photographer through to the very end of the night.


To help ensure your wedding day goes flawlessly, read our post on how to set your wedding vendors up for success.


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