Created by Ali Coşkunfrom the Noun Project

How much wedding photography coverage do I need?

When choosing your wedding photographer, it’s overwhelming deciding how much photography coverage you need. It’s important to work with someone who can guide you into choosing the right amount of wedding photography coverage for your day.

Whenever I chat with couples over the phone or at a bar to discuss working with me, I share my expertise and experience (and maybe a shot of tequila) to help them build a timeline. I use this template to help all of my couples determine how much wedding photography coverage they need for their day. These factors can determine the number of hours you need during your wedding day, as well as if you need a second shooter added on to your photo coverage.

These details are not only important for your wedding photographer, but they can be helpful when sharing your vision with other vendors that you choose to work with.

Read my thoughts below about these important deets so you can determine how much wedding photography coverage you need.

Bridal party matching PJs

Getting ready location

If getting ready photos are important to you, you need to consider the location of your getting ready space in relation to where your fiance´ is getting ready, as well as where the ceremony site is.
If you choose a package with one photographer and getting ready photos of you and your spouse are important to you, your photographer will have to run back and forth between your homes, airbnb’s, or hotel suites in order to photograph those moments.
Adding on a second shooter for your wedding day ensures moments aren’t missed – including those pre-ceremony tequila shots or dudes jumping in the pool in their underwear.

Getting Ready Tip

Consider choosing an airbnb property with multiple floors so the wedding parties can get ready on different levels of the home without running into each other. That way, your photographer doesn’t have to drive to separate locations in order to snap gift exchanges.

Mountain First look Wedding

First look?

I have an entire blog post dedicated to my thoughts on having a first look, but if you are hoping to save some time with your photography coverage, having a first look is ideal.
Choosing to see your spouse before the ceremony allows your photographer to knock out most portraits before your wedding even begins. After your first look, I typically photograph the wedding party portraits and family portraits. That way after the ceremony we have more time to photograph you two as a married couple.

If you choose not to do a first look, you can still save time by photographing these portraits before your ceremony:

  • Wedding party portraits separately | individual wedding party members with the bride(s) or groom(s), and group photos with the bride(s) or groom(s) with their parties
  • Immediate family portraits | family portraits with each side of the wedding couple separately
  • Bridal or groom portraits | you just spent hours getting ready! It’s important to document how incredible you feel moments before walking down the aisle. Let’s set up a mini-glam-moment and photograph some vogue-worthy portraits.
Green Bridesmaids Dresses

Wedding party size

Whether you have a sorority house full of wedding party members, or just your closest friends, your timeline needs to have enough photography coverage built-in to ensure your portraits run smooth.
If you have six or more wedding party members per side, I recommend adding on a second shooter to photograph one side of the wedding party so your timeline can stay on track.
Adding on a second shooter will allow your photography team to knock out both sides of the wedding party at the same time.

Burch House Wedding Ceremony

Ceremony start time

I recommend to all my couples that the ceremony starts a minimum of two hours before sunset. Having two hours before sunset is the perfect time for great lighting during your ceremony, but also ensures if anything in your timeline falls behind, your ceremony has a bit of wiggle room before it gets too dark.

Guest count

Who’s invited to your party?! Your guest count definitely can affect how much photography coverage you need for your day.
I recommend if your guest count is over 100 friends and fam, add on a second shooter. The second shooter could spend some time photographing portraits of your guests, their reactions during the ceremony and reception, and will always have a back-up photo during important moments in case a guest blocks the view with their phone or ugly crying.

Tipsy Trotter Mobile Bar

Cocktail hour

Having a cocktail hour following your ceremony will make it easier to knock out any portraits we weren’t able to photograph without a first look. While you two and I are out taking portraits, a second shooter can snap some candids of your guests enjoying cocktail hour, any entertainment you hired, and all the delish signature drinks.

Sparkler exit

Grand exit or faux exit

Do you want your photographer to capture that epic ending to your wedding day? If you are hoping for coverage that lasts from your getting ready suite to the last kiss under the sparklers, it’s well worth the additional hours of coverage. As the night goes on and the drinks pour, I photograph some exciting and memorable (maybe a hair regrettable) wedding guest moments for you to relive in your wedding gallery.
Scheduling a faux exit may sound convenient for your wedding budget, but it can cause the energy of your party to stop as guests assume it’s time to go home after the exit. If you’re planning on doing a faux exit, make sure all vendors are on the same page and are aware of your plan so they don’t pack up early. Trust me, I’ve seen this happen before. Have your entertainment make an announcement that the party will go on after your photographer snaps some dreamy exit photographs.

How much photography coverage do I need?

A great way to determine how much coverage you actually need is to take the number of hours from your ceremony start time until the end of your reception- and double that.
So if there are five hours between your ceremony and the end of your reception, you would want ten hours of coverage: five hours before the ceremony and five hours following the ceremony.

Here’s an easy-to-understand graphic of my basic math LOL:

Why the heck does my photographer need to be there 5 hours before my ceremony starts?!

Sounds like waaaay too much time to snap getting ready, first look, and some portraits. When I arrive to photograph your wedding, I start with getting ready coverage which includes detail photos: dress, invitation suite, jewelry, vow books, etc. Sometimes getting ready can run long. Having a little wiggle room in your photography timeline is beneficial in case this happens.
My goal is to have the wedding party hidden away one hour before the ceremony begins. During that time you and your wedding party are tucked away, I am photographing your ceremony and reception details before your guests arrive.
By the time we photograph getting ready, first look, portraits, tuck you away, and snap ceremony and reception details; it’s time for your ceremony to begin.
Having the same amount of coverage before your ceremony as after your ceremony is an easy way to ensure your timeline will stay on track and run smooth.

Get to planning, boo!

And there you have it! Some necessary factors to consider when choosing the right amount of wedding photography coverage, and an easy way to add up how many hours you need to photograph your wedding day.
Making sure you and your photographer are on the same page when it comes to your wedding day expectations and your timeline is super important. Every couple that inquires with me is asked these questions so that I am fully prepared before we lock in their wedding date. I enjoy reaching out to my couples throughout the planning process to stay updated and prepared for wedding day. Sending questionnaires, exchanging tips in our Facebook group, and sharing special blog posts dedicated to my couples on all aspects of wedding planning and photography makes my experience super seamless and full of helpful tips.

Still need help?

If you need help determining how much coverage you need for your wedding day, contact me and we can set up a zoom call! Let’s go through your wedding day deets and I can recommend a timeline that works for you, as well as an amount of photography coverage that fits your needs.

Stay tuned for more tips + tricks I sneak out of my exclusive Bride or Dies Facebook Group- my Facebook group for all of my couples to mingle and share planning advice.

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