So you’re engaged, congrats! Now you’re planning what is going to be one of the most memorable days of your life. And of course, you’ll need documentation of this big day via beautiful images. But how many hours of photography coverage do you actually need? Do you need a full day of ten hours? More? Less? How about eight, or six? Could you possibly even go down to four? Well I’ve got news for you, you can do it however you want to. But I do have some bits of information to help you decide.
Every single wedding runs behind. And I mean, Every. Single. One. Even when there is a planner present. Even when you have everything planned out perfectly. Even if you're eloping rather than having a big wedding. Even when it has been just me (the photographer), the couple, and the officiant, even then, the day still runs behind. Always plan to allow for an extra hour on your wedding day. A general rule in life is that everything takes longer than you'd think, and this definitely applies to weddings.
Are you wanting getting ready shots? Lots of formal family photos? How large is your wedding party? How much reception coverage are you wanting? If you answered Yes, Yes, Very Large, and All of It, then you'll likely want a full day. A full day in the photography world means eight or ten hours. If you answered differently, then maybe you could get away with six hours instead. Six hours can get you a good amount of coverage. If you aren't wanting the full reception photographed, or you don't want any getting ready, then you could very easily book just six hours of coverage.
Creating a photo list, and sticking to it, can substantially cut down on the amount of time spent shooting formal family photos. Of course this does add to the number of things that you have to get done prior to your wedding day, but it certainly can be worth it. A set list helps to cut down inference substantially. And guest interference is the number one thing that can make formal family photos take so long. That, and people walking away before their photo has been taken. Regardless of whether or not you decide to make a list, definitely consider appointing someone as the designated guest wrangler. Some one who can stick around throughout the whole formal photo process and who know's most, if not all, of the guests by name.
First looks can substantially cut down on the number of formal couple photos that would otherwise be taken after the ceremony. They also present the bonus of getting some of your couple photos in a different location, at a different time of day, which means a different kind of lighting. Plus, there's the whole privacy matter. The fact that your guests would not be present for the first look not only makes things go much more quickly but also gives a more intimate feel to the experience.
So let's recap. If you want getting ready shots, lots of formal family photos, full reception and the grand exit, you’ll need full day coverage. Eight or ten hours. Now let’s say instead you want the first look, ceremony, formal family photos, and reception you’ll be looking at more along the lines of six or eight hours. If you want to cut out most of the reception, you could certainly go down to six or even four hours. If you're eloping, it's safe to say that four hours is the way to go. Many photographers build their packages to adhere to these different hourly options. Many photographers also have customizable packages. If you don’t see what you’re looking for on a photographer’s website, it never hurts to ask if they customize or what their hourly rate is. Personally, my packages can be customized and I don't know any photographers who don't allow for customization. Any way that you want it done, it can be done.