Planning your wedding day timeline can be overwhelming. There is so much to coordinate, and you want to ensure the day goes smoothly. Additionally, I have clients book their packages based on hourly photography coverage. This forces clients to consider a rough timeline well before all the details are laid out. One of the most common questions I get from clients is, How many hours of wedding photography do I need? I’m here to help you determine how many hours of coverage you should book by kickstarting your wedding day timeline planning!
As you work through your timeline, I highly recommend consulting your planner and photographer during this process. Not only are they the vendors involved in the majority of your day, they have also attended countless weddings and seen how couples before you have laid out their days!
I have created a successful formula for creating your photo timeline. Every couple is different, and this formula fluctuates depending on personal touches you may be adding to your day. You can also alter it based on what photos are most important to you. However, the timing will help you start planning your wedding day timeline and predict how many hours to book a photographer.
The Formula for Planning your Wedding Day Timeline
As a rule of thumb, I recommend 8 hours of coverage to couples whose receptions and ceremonies are in the same location. This is typically enough time to paint a good picture of the full wedding day. However, if your ceremony and reception are in two different locations, I recommend moving up to 9 or 10 hours of coverage to account for drive time between locations.
To help you make your decision, here is a guideline of roughly how much time I need for each portion of your wedding day. You can
- Getting Ready (30 – 60 minutes) – Depends on how important these candids are and if you want any detail photos (shots of rings, invitations, the dresses, shoes, etc.)
- First Look (15 minutes) – Allow about 15 minutes to set up your first look and give you time to take in the moment
- Wedding Couple portraits (30 -45 minutes) – Be sure to allow for at least 30 minutes of time with just you and your partner to capture photos after your first look!
- Wedding Party photos (30 – 45 minutes) – You may be able to lower this time if you have a small wedding party. You should increase it if you have more than 7 bridesmaids/groomsmen on each side.
- Family Photos (30 – 60 minutes) – If you are doing photos with extended family (more than just parents, grandparents, and siblings), you will want to err on the side of an hour.
- Ceremony (Ceremony length + 45 minutes) – Allow about 15-30 minutes on either side of your ceremony for arrival, seating, dismissal, and/or a receiving line.
- Travel time to reception venue (if applicable) – If you ceremony and reception are at separate venues, be sure to account for travel time for your photographer
- Reception (Meal + 120-180 minutes) – Reception coverage is very dependent on what you want to capture and what you have planned. I typically spend about 2-3 hours at my clients’ receptions. This provides time for cocktail hour candids, dinner, first dances, cake cutting, sunset photos, and open dance floor candids.
Add the minutes from my suggestions above together. Then, divide by 60, and you have your expected coverage hours that you’d like! I recommend rounding high. You will never regret giving yourself some extra time to relax on your wedding day rather than feeling rushed or behind!
Example Wedding Photography Timelines
Wedding Photography Timeline: 8 Hours
Wedding Photography Timeline: 10 Hours