How Many Hours You Should Book a Photographer For

Aisle Planner How Many Hours You Should Book a Photographer For
Photo courtesy Shane and Lauren Photography

When you work with couples who are in the thick of wedding planning, you’re sure to field a lot of questions. From vendor recommendations to budget questions, color palettes to figuring out what flowers are in season, you’re always researching things to make sure you can give your clients the most informed answers to their questions. So today, we wanted to give you another resource to refer to when you inevitably get asked, “How many hours should we book our photographer for?”

6 Hours of Wedding Day Coverage

Just because this is usually the least expensive package offered by photographers, that doesn’t mean it is just for couples with tight budgets! 6 hours of coverage is plenty for small weddings and elopements. When weddings are intimate, there aren’t very many people to manage and photograph, so things tend to move quickly. That being said, 6 hours of coverage only works logistically if the ceremony and reception are in the same location.

Things to consider

  • 6 hours of coverage most likely means that there will not be much (or any) time for detail shots or photos of the couple getting ready
  • But, there will be coverage of all of the important moments (portraits, ceremony, family photos, first dance, cake cutting)
  • The end of the night comes early with just 6 hours of coverage so, most likely there will not be many photos of the reception once dancing starts

8 Hours of Wedding Day Coverage

An 8 hour package is usually enough time for an “average size” wedding (about 100-150 people) and the extra 2 hours of coverage will usually allow the photographer to capture: the tail end of you getting ready, some detail shots of the reception space, and the start of the dance party.

Things to consider

  • If the couple has their heart set on doing a first look, then we recommend at least 8 hours of coverage
  • Even though 8 hours seems like a lot of time, we still feel like this works best for weddings where the ceremony and reception are at the same location. Since the additional 2 hours gives the photographer just enough time to take a few getting ready, detail, and dancing shots, you don’t want to waste 30 or 40 minutes on them needing to pack up their gear, drive to, and set back up at a second location

10 Hours of Wedding Day Coverage

Don’t want your couple to feel rushed to get all of the shots everyone wants on wedding day? Then at least 10 hours of coverage is the right way to go. Since the photographers are on site for most of the day, there is enough time to get all of the detail and prep shots, plus have plenty of time for a first look (if the couple wants to do one). On top of that, nobody will have to rush through any of the wedding party and family portraits before getting to dinner and dancing.

Things to consider

  • If the wedding ceremony and reception are taking place in different locations, then we recommend at least 10 hours of coverage. This gives the photographer enough time to travel to the second location and still get all of the shots
  • Planning a grand exit? Unless the couple is willing to give up coverage in the earlier hours, 10 hours is usually not enough to have a photographer there until the very end of the reception

12 Hours of Wedding Day Coverage

There are a couple reasons why 12 hours of coverage would be right for your couple. Aside from it being more than enough time to capture all of the details of the day, this amount of coverage is almost necessary if there is a very large wedding party (bridal parties of 12 or more).

Things to consider

  • If there is a huge wedding party and family, we usually recommend 12 hours of coverage. Why? With everyone in “party mode” it means that it can be hard to get and keep people’s attention (not to mention the fact that it can be difficult to find and get the right people in the right place all at the right time!)
  • Did you get to work with a couple that was super into design or had the budget to make all of those ideas come to life? Regardless really, as a wedding planner, you put in a ton of work into each of your weddings and, it would be a bummer if all of those details didn’t get photographed. So, if you got to collaborate with your favorite stationer to design that custom invitation suite, have the wedding signs, custom cocktails, and lounges that everybody dreams of, we definitely recommend 12 hours of coverage to make sure that every detail gets the attention it deserves!

About the Author

Shane Hopkins
Shane Hopkins

Shane and Lauren are a husband and wife photography duo. Based out of San Diego, they'll pack their bags and photograph weddings and engagements anywhere (especially if it takes them to the mountains). Follow them along on Instagram @shaneandlaurenphoto

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