When trying to figure out how many hours of photography you need on the day of your wedding, it’s very important to have a good understanding of the flow and structure of wedding day. You can read more about wedding timelines HERE. The day goes by fast! And although we, as brides would like to assume that everything will go according to plan, we have to expect the unexpected. There will without a doubt be a few delays and surprises which may throw your original timeline slightly off track. Whats important is to make sure you give yourself extra time where ever possible. Planning extra time into your day guarantees a stress free and easy flowing atmostphere for you, your bridal party and more importantly, helps you determine how many hours of photography you REALLY need.
A few months ago, I came across this really helpful article that breaks down a full day of wedding photography coverage to give a better understanding of how much time is recommended at specific times of the day. I think this would be quite helpful to you so of course I had to share!
Time Management: Fitting in Photos During the Wedding Day
Article By: Joshua Zuckerman
What time should the photographer arrive? This is a key question, and it takes careful planning to determine the best start and finish times so there is photography coverage for all the important parts. If you’ve hired a wedding planner, they will create a schedule and work with the photographer in advance and throughout the day so everything run s smoothly. If not, then keep in mind the following recommendations when planning the flow of events.
Still Life Shots Happen During the Getting Ready Time (Recommended: 1 to 1.5 hours)
While the bride is having her hair and makeup done, this is the best time for the photographer to shoot the still lifes – rings, shoes, dress, flowers, etc. Collect the items in advance so they are ready when the photographer arrives. In addition to the still like photos, time should be left for candids of the bride with her bridesmaids and family. If you have a second photographer, they will typically be with the groom as he gets ready. If you don’t have two photographers, then the groom should be within close vicinity (ex. Next floor in a hotel)
Do the Bride Portraits When She’s at her Freshest (Recommended: at least 20 minutes)
The best time for bride portraits is immediately after the bride is finished getting ready. This is when she is at her freshest most perfect state, and brides usually like the transition time wit the photographer as they get used to wearing their dress. One thing to be careful of is that despite advance planning, time set aside for the bride portraits can be lost to continuous tweaking of hair and makeup. From the photographer’s perspective, a slightly out of place hair won’t make a different in the photos, but what will matter is not having any time to photograph the bride. So set a hard stop for hair and makeup to leave time for portraits.
Find Time for Couple Portraits Before or After the Ceremony (Recommended: 40-60 minutes)
There are pros and cons to seeing each other before the ceremony. On the pro side, couples have more time for photos if they do them before the ceremony. On the con side, some brides and grooms are nervous before the ceremony and can’t relax while the photos are being taken. I’ve found many couples look and act differently after the ceremony because they’re not only more relaxed, their faces have a newly married glow.
If you decide to see each other beforehand, there are ways to make it special. Think of the first viewing as a private date and a chance to be alone before the wedding gets underway. Find a nice room at the venue to have a glass of champagne or take a stroll outside. Typically, 40 minutes is enough time, but an hour is optimal because it allows for cushion if you are running behind.
If you’ve decided to not see each other beforehand, then you may want to plan some time for couple portraits and group shots/formals immediately following the ceremony. Be clear with the photographer about how much time you want to spend on this so you have enough time to enjoy the cocktail hour.
Do the Formals Fast (Recommended: 5 minutes per grouping)
Do the formal group shots quickly. The goal is to capture who was there. Hands don’t need to be positioned, bouquet alignment is not a priority, and speed is essential. If you’ve hired a documentary style wedding photographer, you will have plenty of great candid photos of guests throughout the day.
Consider Time Spent Moving From One Location to the Next
As you work out the day’s schedule, keep in mind the time it takes to move from one location to the next. If the venue is on a large property, ask the photographer to do a site visiting in advance or arrive early to scout for interesting locations. Also consider the entire venue, both inside and outside, not just the room for the reception. Some of the most interesting photos can be taken in less obvious spots like on the roof or in the basement.
Determine How Many Hours of Photography are Needed (Recommended: 8 to 10 hours)
Every wedding is different, but if coverage is needed from getting ready through to the cake cutting and dancing, most couples need between 8 and 10 hours. If the budget is tight, cut back to 8 hours and consider staging the cake cutting earlier.
If the party gets rambunctious just as the photographer is scheduled to leave, ask them to stay another 30 minutes or an hour. It is uncanny, but the party is usually most energetic at the end of the night when the band plays the best dance music and the guests are loosened up. Most photographers are happy to pro-rate their hourly fee.
For those of you like me, who LOVE information, I also highly reccomend reading Your Wedding Day Photography and Tips which gives a more extensive break down of a typical wedding day along with loads of helpful tips to make sure you get the most of your photographer on your wedding day!
Now, these are just guidelines to consider. Every couple and every wedding is different. The most important thing to remember in addition to getting the right kind of coverage is finding the right photographer for YOU. Someone you can trust, who makes a good fit and will work to the best of their ability to give you exactly what you’re looking for!
And because every blog post is better with a photo ….