How Many Hours of Photography Coverage Do We Need For Our Wedding?

For Brides


I get it. It is a little tricky to hire a photographer when you don’t know what you actually need.

Are 8 hours of coverage enough to photograph your wedding day? Or do you need closer to 10 hours? Could I really need 12 hours (yes. some clients do!).

The amount of photography coverage you need for your wedding affects who you can hire because it affects your total photography budget.

So how many hours do YOU need?

Every wedding day is totally different, however, most couples need between 8 – 10 hours of photography coverage to make sure the getting ready portion of the day through the dance floor opening are photographed.

If you are struggling to figure out how many hours are perfect for your wedding day, this blog post is for you. I am breaking down two different wedding timelines so you can see how your wedding day might look and the number of hours you will need.

PRO TIP : Most photographers will let you add additional hours of coverage on throughout the planning process, so if you aren’t sure exactly how many hours you think you will need when you hire a wedding photographer, don’t fret. You can always start with less and add on what you need.

Below are sample times for an 8-hour wedding with a first look and 10-hour wedding without a first look. These two scenarios tend to be what most of my couples are working with.

EIGHT HOURS | FIRST LOOK AT ONE LOCATION

Eight hours of wedding coverage tends to be the minimum number of hours a couple needs when everything is happening at the same location. This allows plenty of time for getting ready photos and party photos of your guests on the dance floor. If you will be getting ready off-site or want to take photos at another location, you may want to add another 30-90 minutes of coverage to allow for travel times.

  • 1:00 pm | Photographer arrives at the bride’s getting ready location to photograph the finishing touches of everyone getting ready

    • During this time, we will also capture the final touches of the groom and groomsmen getting ready

  • 2:30 pm | First-look and bride +  groom photos

  • 3:30 pm | Wedding party photos

  • 4:00 pm | Family Photos

  • 4:30 pm | Ceremony decor + details photographed; formal portraits complete

  • 4:40 pm | Candids as guests arrive

  • 5:00 pm | Ceremony

  • 5:30 pm | Extended family photos; cocktail hour starts

  • 6:15 pm | Reception decor + details photographed

  • 6:30 pm | Introductions

  • 6:45 pm | Dinner served

  • 7:00 pm | Speeches

  • 7:20 pm | Cake-cutting

  • 8:00 pm | Sunset photos

  • 8:15 pm | First dance

  • 8:25 pm | Dance floor opens

  • 9:00 pm | Photography coverage ends

how many hours of wedding photography coverage do we need

TEN HOURS | TRADITIONAL; CEREMONY + RECEPTION LOCATION DIFFERENT

Ten hours typically works best for weddings that will take place at two locations like a church and then a reception venue. It gives you full day wedding coverage and allows extra time for travel times, multiple photo locations and/or it is great for large wedding parties or big families where you need a lot of photos.

  • 11:30 am | Photographer arrives at the bride’s getting ready location to photograph the finishing touches of everyone getting ready

    • During this time, we will also capture the final touches of the groom and groomsmen getting ready

  • 1:00 pm | Drive to ceremony

  • 1:30 pm | Arrive at ceremony location

  • 1:30 pm | Candids as guests arrive

  • 2:00 pm | Ceremony

  • 3:00 pm | Family Photos
  • 3:30 pm | Drive to outdoor photo location

  • 4:00 pm | Wedding Party Photos

  • 4:30 pm | Bride + Groom Photos

  • 5:00 pm | Drive to the reception venue

  • 5:30 pm | Cocktail hour

  • 6:15 pm | Reception decor + details

  • 6:45 pm | Introductions

  • 7:00 pm | Dinner served

  • 7:15 pm | Speeches

  • 7:30 pm | Cake-cutting

  • 8:00pm | Sunset photos
  • 8:15 pm | First-dances

  • 8:20 pm | Dance floor opens

  • 9:30pm | Photography coverage ends

If you are on the fence whether a first look is right for you, be sure to check out this blog post all about if a first look makes sense for your wedding day and six reasons you will want to add a first look into your wedding timeline. Trying to build the perfect wedding day timeline, then this one is for you.

If you are a Brittany Bekas client, the studio always creates a custom timeline for you so you know how many hours you will need before you hire us.

First time to the blog? Hi, I am Brittany, and I am a fine art film photographer specializing in lifestyle wedding and family photography. I travel worldwide photographing beautiful weddings, engagements, and families, and most of the time you can find me in Chicago, Naples (Southwest Florida), and Las Vegas. My light and airy editing style and candid, joyful photos are what I am best known for. Interested in working together? Contact the studio for more information.

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  1. Just want to say your article is as astounding. The clarity in your post is just excellent and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

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Florida, Chicago + destination wedding and family photographer for those who believe in eternalizing this season of life with storytelling images.

After becoming a mom and losing my own mom, I realized that the most cherished photos are moments (not the perfectly posed portrait). I'm here to let moments unfold and to document the true connection between you, your partner and your family.

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