How much Photography Coverage for your wedding do you need? How long should your photographer stay? What time does coverage need to start, and when should it end?
Most photographers don’t need to be there at 7am from the start of hair and makeup to 2am when the after-party ends. A lot of that is going to be your photographer getting photos of the same people over and over until they are bored in the face. And you’ll be bored looking at those photos!! Nobody wants that..
So here’s what you need to ask yourself in order to quickly calculate how much photography coverage you need on your wedding day >>
For couples who want to take all their portraits before the ceremony (also known as a first look) you’re going to want to start your photography coverage 3.5-4 hours before the ceremony starts. That gives you 1.5 hours for details and getting ready photos, 45 minutes of couples portraits, 30 minutes of wedding party photos, 15 minutes of family photos, then be finished and hidden away an hour before the ceremony starts while the guests start arriving.
For couples who want to do the majority of their photos after the ceremony because they want an aisle reveal (see each other for the first time down the aisle), then photography coverage should start 2.5-3 hours before the ceremony starts. This gives you 1.5 hours of getting ready photos, 30 minutes of separate bridesmaid and groomsmen photos, then everyone hidden away about an hour before the ceremony while guests arrive.
If you are going to be traveling, like to and from a hotel, church, venue, etc., make sure to calculate all of that in your timeline for photography coverage. Although you are traveling, photographers are still on the clock :)
If you are doing a first look, then you probably want to attend your cocktail hour! When you get all your portraits done ahead of time, a 60 minute cocktail hour is the perfect amount of time for couples to drink and say hi to their guests, while the photographers are photographing candids and reception detail photos.
But what if you are doing an aisle reveal and still want to attend your cocktail hour? Simply extend your cocktail hour to 90 minutes instead of 60. That gives us photographers 60 minutes to get all your photos done. Then you can join cocktail hour for 30 minutes afterwards. That 30 minutes is also important for us photographers because without it we wouldn’t have time to get reception detail photos, and that would be sad. All that hard work planning the perfect decor and you won’t even get good photos of it before the guests sit down.. So worth it to just extend your cocktail hour!
I always prefer to stay at receptions for at least 3 hours to have time to capture all the main events, but if you are having a special exit at the end of the night, like SPARKLERS, then you’ll probably want photos! So make sure you extend your photography coverage to the end of the reception!
Another option would be to do a staged exit! You still get the sparkler photos, but you won’t have to pay your photographers to stay til the end of the night. It’s just you two and your awesome wedding party! Less drunk people with fire ;)
Grab Your Guide
A lot of moving pieces go into planning a wedding day timeline and I know it can be overwhelming! Grab my free guide to plan the perfect timeline for your day.