How Many Hours Do I Need A Wedding Photographer?

Many brides find themselves asking, “How many hours do I need a wedding photographer?” It’s with good reason, as every wedding moment counts and professional wedding photographers do not come cheap. Planning your wedding  timeline in advance will help you realize exactly how many hours you will need before you speak with potential photographers. Wedding photographer coverage and how many hours you need, will differ for every situation. Some couples only need a few hours while others really value every moment being captured. Others may need their photographer for multiple days. It really depends upon the size of your wedding and what you want to accomplish with your wedding photos. Indian weddings are famous for multi day coverage. If you are planning a destination wedding, you may want to have your photographer stick around for a trash the dress the next day or a rehearsal dinner party the night before. Photographers will often offer you packages with typical scenarios based on their experience but don’t be afraid to ask for special requests.

How Many Hours Do I Need A Wedding Photographer?

Here are some important tips to figure out how much time you need to consider when hiring your wedding photographer.

First Figure Out the Size Of Your Wedding

Some things to initial think about is how large is your guest list, how many brides maids and groomsmen do you have, is the ceremony and the reception in the same place or is travel required between? Do you have a large or blended family that will require a lot of formal portraits? Then you will need to allot time for this as you will keep your guests waiting for your arrival at the reception. Know up front how many formal family portraits you want and discuss this with your photographer prior to your wedding. Gathering a large family and bridal attendants for photos can eat up a lot of your  time.

Are You Doing First Look Photos?

Will you be doing first look photos. It’s a great way to get your Bride and Groom portraits done before the ceremony ( when you look your best) and it saves some time on the back end. It’s also a great way to get some really nice, intimate shots of just the two of you and they say, it even helps relax  you walking down the aisle.

Photo by Nyana Stoica on Unsplash

How Much Coverage Do You Really Need?

Here’s another thing to think about when hiring your wedding photographer. How many hours would you like him or her to stay? Until the very end? Through the cake-cutting only or are you planning a big sparkler send off at the end of the evening that MUST be captured? If you’re working with a tight budget you may want to consider hiring your photographer for a set number of hours only. Don’t waste your money on an amateur photographer, it’s better to hire a photographer with experience for less hours than it is to hire a newbie to cover the whole wedding. If you really want the whole day covered, but cant afford it, you can hire a photographer looking to break into the wedding industry to cover the later part of your wedding and have the pro stay for the really important shots.

How many hours do you need a wedding photographerPhoto by Soulseeker – Creative Photography on Unsplash

Wedding Photography Packages

Ask your photographer for a flat fee, unlimited coverage contract, if you want him or her to stay for the duration of the festivities. However, if you are working with a tight budget you may want to consider hiring your photographer for a set number of hours only or buy into a specific package they may offer. Many photographers operate this way and often offer you a six-hour or an eight-hour package. They may even let you decide which events will be covered. Don’t forget to consider the amount of travel time for your photographer when factoring in hours needed. You need to consider the location of your reception, and how long it takes the photographer to get there from the ceremony, after all, he is considered to be “working” when traveling between venues.

Typical Time Line For Wedding Photography Coverage

  • An hour before bride leaves for ceremony (bride & groom getting ready, dress, shoes, ring etc)
  • First look
  • Arrival of bride, father, groom and groomsmen
  • Ceremony and vows
  • Post ceremony, leaving the venue
  • Formal portraits, family and bridal party portraits
  • Reception
  • Speeches
  • Cake-cutting
  • Send off

The average time for all of this is generally around eight hours for most weddings, but it depends on the wedding size, venues and wedding logistics. Some couples even decide to leave the total number of hours flexible so they can see how the reception is going and then decide then if they would like the photographer to stay longer or not. There can be a pre-arranged rate for extra hours, in that case. If things are slowing down, you may opt to call it a night and send your photographer home. However, if things are still in full swing, those extra hours of work may result in some of your most precious photos of the day.

Having a Big Send-Off?

If your friends and family are giving you a big send-off, of course you will want your photographer there to capture every minute of the fun. Some newlyweds leave early and let the party go on without them; some like to stay and enjoy themselves until everyone has left. It all depends on the plans for your honeymoon. Remember, if you have something special arranged at the end of the evening, such as fireworks or a special music performance, you will definitely want your photographer there.

How many hours do I need a wedding photographer

Photo Credit: Paloma Magnolia Photography via the My Bridal Pix Photographer Network

The numbers of hours you will need your photographer depends on budget, size, logistics, venues and exactly what you want covered, so think carefully before you decide. A professional photographer can help you pick the arrangement that is just right for you.


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