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How Many Hours of Photography Do I Need for My Wedding?

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

When an engaged couple is deciding on which wedding package to purchase with us, one of the top questions that we get is “How do I know how much time we will need with our wedding photographer?” Keep reading to find out!

When you’re deciding on how many hours you will need to hire for specific creative services, there will be a few components which you’ll need to consider. The hours which you agree to will be the total amount of time that you would have photography coverage of your big day---from start to finish. Most popular wedding photography packages are anywhere between 6 and 8 consecutive hours.

Wedding Photography Timeline

To be able to clearly answer the question “How many hours of photography do I need for my wedding?”, it’s important to understand a general timeline.

How many hours of photography do I need for my wedding?

Here is the amount of time that we recommend setting aside for each of these scenarios:

  • Getting ready: 1-1.5 hours (30-45 minutes per person)

  • Portraits: 1-2 hours

  • Ceremony: 30 minutes-1.5 hours

Note: this will be longer if there are specific cultural or religious traditions to follow, or if you have a large wedding party.

  • Cocktail hour, or time between the ceremony and reception: 30 minutes-1 hour

  • Reception: 2-4 hours

Note: ensure there’s enough time for your cake cutting, planned number of toasts, and the dancing which you’d like to include.

  • Details shots (decor, venue, accessories, cake, tables, guest books, etc.): 1 hour

  • Send off: 30 minutes

Wedding photography coverage details and wedding planning tips

You will also want to build in additional time for the transitional periods of the day, like the time to travel between venues as well as downtime. Depending on the plan for your big day, there are additional scenarios which will require more time:

1. Are you doing a first look, first touch, or other alternative? Plan for an extra 30 minutes.

2. Are you hosting your big day across multiple locations which are spread apart? For example,

both of you getting ready in different places, one location for the ceremony, and another for the reception? This will add extra time.

3. Do you want the photographer there the entire time so that they can capture getting ready up to the grand exit? Ensure that you have clear expectations set with your venue so that you know when the reception will end.

As a general rule of thumb, if you have a smaller, shorter, or backyard wedding, it will likely be 4-6 hours. If you have multiple locations, then it will be closer to 8 consecutive hours. If you’d like to try to shorten the time that is needed with your wedding photographer, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Hire a second shooter. This is an additional photographer so that you can get double the amount of coverage at the same time. (Learn about the benefits of hiring a second shooter here.)

  • Be thoughtful about your getting ready locations. Since travel time can add to your timeline for both you, your wedding party, and your photographers, thoughtfully consider where you plan to get ready. Ask your ceremony space if they have somewhere suitable that you can get ready or make sure to pick a location that’s nearby.

Wedding photography coverage tips from Joy Photo and Video
  • Get creative with your send off. Plan for your send off to take place after the ceremony instead of after the reception. You could also do a mock send off for your grand exit so that the photographer doesn’t need to say until the very end of your event. This will be a point in time selected earlier in your wedding reception where you and your new spouse would do an exit with your guests---before the end of the event. This will allow your photographer to wrap things up earlier and you will still get the photos of the special moment. Plus, all of your guests will still be likely to be there, and hair and makeup will still be fresh.

How many hours of photography do I need for my wedding?

We hope this helped give you clarity for your question “How many hours of photography do I need for my wedding?” If you need more help building out your timeline or other logistics, we recommend finding a trusted wedding planner who can partner with you and your significant other. Then, leave the photography and videography up to us!

Wedding Photography Coverage

At Joy Photo and Video, we offer customizable packages to help meet your needs. Our photo packages are 6 or 8 hours since these will meet the needs of a variety of couples for different types of ceremony and receptions. (You will also have the ability to add-on things like a second photographer or extra hour.)

If you book with us, here are the details for our wedding photo packages. It's important to keep in mind that coverage time is continuous and consecutive. From the start time which you provide, the clocks starts and coverage time for the package begins. From that point forward, the time will be continuous and consecutive until the end of your wedding.

6-Hours of Wedding Photography

How many hours of coverage do I need for my wedding photography?
  • 1 Certified Photographer for 6 Hours

  • 300-400 High-Res Edited Photos

  • Digital Download & Delivery

  • Private Online Gallery & Print Store

  • All RAW Photos

  • No Watermarks

  • Copyright Release

8-Hours of Wedding Photography

  • 1 Certified Photographer for 8 Hours

  • 400-500 High-Res Edited Photos

  • Digital Download & Delivery

  • Private Online Gallery & Print Store

  • All RAW Photos

  • No Watermarks

  • Copyright Release

And if you’re looking to combine wedding photography and videography, we have combo packages.

Check out all our packages and add-ons here. Get in touch with us today to see how we can bring you more joy; we are actively booking for 2023 weddings!

[Photoshoot in the spotlight: Elisha + Nick in Tampa, Florida]

Choose Joy,

The Joy Team


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