If you are pretty early on in the planning process, it might be hard to know how many hours to book your wedding photographer for. With my clients, I like to ask on our consultation call to describe what that whole wedding weekend looks like to them. What are they picturing? Is there a rehearsal brunch? What does the wedding prep look like? The ceremony? Reception? All these details help me pinpoint the perfect package for my couples. But if you’re wanting to have a better idea of how it all works, here is where you can start.
1. Have your ceremony time finalized and work the rest of your day around that.
When you have your ceremony time, all the other vendors can figure out when their start time is for your big day. You also can get an idea of where you need to be and at what times as more and more details get figured out. Having a schedule brings lots of peace of mind! For me, when it comes to photography coverage, I typically arrive about 3 hours before your ceremony start time. Most photographers will arrive 2-3 hours beforehand.
2. Calculate how long your ceremony will last.
Fun fact, they typically are quite short and sometimes go only for 20-30 minutes! You can talk about this part of the day with your officiant, including what you want them to mention, etc. Depending on the traditions (and non-traditions) you plan to include, this timeframe might differ. But if you have a desire to keep it short, be sure to mention it to your officiant!
3. You’ll need about an hour after the ceremony for family photos, wedding party photos, and newlywed photos.
I know, it sounds like a lot! But it’s actually really fast. In my case, each of these can take about 20 minutes. But to make sure we have plenty of time, I’d aim for 20-30 minutes for family photos, 20 minutes for wedding party photos, and 20-30 for newlywed photos. It will fly by!
4. Think of what you want to do during your reception.
When considering how many hours to book your wedding photographer for, you’ll need to consider things such as any first dances, the flow of the dinner time, toasts, and cake cutting, as well as your send off. Some couples opt for games, and others just want a come-and-go reception gathering with their family and friends. Consider how you picture this part of the day. Estimate 45 minutes-1 hour for dinner (and you can have toasts towards the end of dinner!), cake cutting (5 minutes), the toasts (how many people and how long per person), first dances (1-2 minutes each one), and the send off (getting the guests lined up outside, sparklers lit, and walking out takes about 10-15 minutes).
If you picture your day being more scheduled, but with all or most of the things mentioned above, an 8 hour collection might be plenty! Likewise, if you picture your day being more relaxed, the events being more spaced out, maybe with more of a mingling vibe and a fun party-till-the-night-ends feel, the 10 hour collection is a better option.