The Best Guide to Figuring out Your Wedding Photography Coverage

October 1, 2019

A bride and groom place rings on each others fingers. Check out this guide for the best ways to figure out how much wedding photography coverage you need!

When someone is planning a wedding, almost always it’s their first time. So of course, it’s natural to have a BILLION questions. I mean, you’re not an event planner! One question that usually comes up when a couple is booking a photographer is, “how much wedding photography coverage should we have?”

When I’m chatting with new clients about this, I always stress how important it is for me to be able to tell the story of your ENTIRE day. It’s easy to write photography off and attempt to cut costs by scaling back photography coverage to a partial day or even just a few hours. But the reality is that it’s just not possible to fit a full day of activities and important moments into four hours, or sometimes even six — it all depends on what you and your boo thing decide to have happen on your day and how much time that will take up.

Tables are assembled in the forest at sunset for a wedding reception. Check out this guide for the best ways to figure out how much wedding photography coverage you need!
shot with sunshine shannon

Some things to think about when you’re deciding how much coverage is right for you:

  • Do you want photos of you both getting ready (including hair and makeup)?
  • Are you planning on having any extra non-traditional activities planned for your guests to participate in with you at some point on your wedding day? 
  • Will your wedding take place at different locations? (getting ready airbnb, ceremony at one site, reception at another, etc)
  • Are reception/dancing photos of your guests partying with you important?
  • Will you be doing a grand exit at the end of the night you want documented?

If the answer is YES to at least two of those, more than likely you should think about hiring a photographer for eight hours at least. If you answer yes to ALL of them, I would highly recommend booking a photographer for ten hours to make sure nothing is missed! The worst thing is when you get toward the end of the night and you’re like OH CRAP our schedule ran late and now our photographer is going to miss the toasts/dancing/grand exit because we didn’t book long enough coverage! 


To give you an idea of what different lengths of photography coverage would be like, here are some examples.

Both of these examples are given on the assumption that there is no travel between locations.

6 Hours:

End of getting ready (bride/groom putting on dress/suit when everyone else is already ready)
Brief wedding details
First look
Wedding party formals
Ceremony
Family formals
Brief sunset portraits (if any)
Toasts
Brief dancing/reception photos

8 Hours:

All of getting ready prep
Extended wedding details
First look
Wedding party formals
Ceremony
Family formals
Cocktail hour
Extended sunset portraits
Toasts
Extended dancing/reception photos

A bride and groom dance together alone at the end of the night. Check out this guide for the best ways to figure out how much wedding photography coverage you need!
shot with onyx & arrow photography

Again, I know it is sooo easy to look at a quick line item list and think it’ll be no problem to get all that done in a handful of hours. But trust me — you can’t. In a perfect world… yes; you could. But weddings are full day events with a lot going on, and very often things come up that don’t go according to plan! Because of that, it’s extremely helpful to add in time buffers to each section of the day, which fills up the extra time in those six and eight hour blocks of your photography coverage and makes sure nothing is missed in case something does run a liiiittle long.

So there you have it, my best advice for how to figure out the amount of wedding photography coverage to have! If you’re ready to take it a step farther, be sure to check out my post about how to figure out your timeline (coming soon)! In the meantime, you can check out other wedding planning resources here!

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