How many hours of wedding photography do I need?

Wedding planning advice

While searching for your perfect wedding photographer you may start wondering: “How many hours of wedding photography do I need?” It’s a common question. To work it out, essentially, you need to know what you want your wedding day to look like and what is really important for you to have captured.

It’s all about the memories you want to re-live. If you can’t decide then my best bet is to invest in the ‘whole shabang’. Get the full day and you won’t have to think any more about it. If however, your budget or your preferences for what you want capture tug at you more, then consider going for ‘by the hour’. Some couples don’t want the ‘getting ready bit’ captured or some opt for forgoing the speeches being caught on camera or the first dance. There is no ‘right or wrong’, no norm, have your cake and eat it your way. Smash your face in or take a few bites.


So what does a typical wedding day look like?

Well, let me start by saying that I believe a typical day could look like anything – or rather should! It’s your day and you both should have a day which have the elements that mean the most to you. To help you out a little more, I wrote a super handy guide on a  ‘Relaxed Wedding day timeline‘. It’s a hugely popular blog on my site and I have many who get in touch telling me how much it helped them when it came to wedding planning. I run though what a ‘typical’ wedding day looks like, with tips on how to plan a relaxed wedding day. It’s what your wedding day could look like. It could help you work out what is really important to photograph, for the both of you, on your day.

How many hours of wedding photography are enough?

When it comes to working out what is important for you to capture, here are some things to consider:

Do you want to look back at how you started the day? 
The time getting ready can be one of the most exciting parts of the day. All the build up, laughter, tears, stress and popping of champagne make for some of the best moments to re-live. It’s one of my favourite times of the day. I get to know you and your friends and family you are getting ready with. There are tears, there is laughter and there is a chance to capture the intimate relationships and bonds you share with those around you.

Do you want photos of all the details? 
During the time you’re getting ready is also also the time when I can photograph the wedding dress, the wedding shoes, the wedding cuff links and so on. All the little details you invested in to make your day just so, they are part of your story. If you invested the time and money to bring those Pinterest  ideas come to life and/or have a thing for details and design, then it  would be pretty pants if all of those design details didn’t get photographed. So, if you have the wedding flowers, signs and/or the wedding cake that everybody dreams of, I recommend more hours of wedding photography, than less. This will ensure I capture the very devil in the details. If the details hold less significance, then you can consider to reduce your coverage. However, be prepared to have fewer details of the day in your wedding photos because when the day happens, I will focus on people and events more.

Is your bridal & groom prep, wedding ceremony and reception at one venue or a few?
Having a wedding all in one place (from getting ready right through to the party) can mean you could potentially reduce on the hours of wedding photography needed. There is far less travel time, less chance of traffic and impact on the general time and organisation of the day. If there are a number of places to consider, be generous with the time you book your wedding coverage for. When I travel, I can’t just jump into a car as soon as you do. I tend to be with you until you get into the car, so I don’t miss anything. Then, I’ll hot step it to my car and unpack all my gear so it is safe to travel. A broken camera won’t be fun. Nor will being blocked in by a guest, so on that note, do make sure there is a dedicated spot for your photographer to park in.

The size of your wedding.
Generally speaking, the smaller the wedding, the more you can get away with booking fewer hours. Smaller weddings tend to move a little faster. The more guests, the bigger the party and the bigger the party mood. This may mean you want and need to mingle more with your guests. So for example, you’ll need more time with your guests before you do your group photos or the couple photos. Believe me, you will get swept away with and by your guests. You may also need more time for the outfit change you planned for your first dance (because you thought dressing up like Freddie Mercury & Brian May for your first dance was a good idea. IT WAS by the way. IT IS).

Do you want photos at a specific spot away from the venue? 
It may be that you are getting married somewhere fairly picturesque and desperately want some photos away from the venue. It may be that you are getting married at a venue with a huge amount of grounds. Allow time for travel….even walking. I often only need 20mins to get some lovely photos of you both, but walking to the perfect spot, or chasing the light that will bring the photo to life, may add a few minutes more. I have before now, with a couple, got in the car and travelled to a spot for photos. It can be done if you factor that time in and it can be soooo worth it!

Are you planning an evening to end with a bang? 
Have you got sparklers? Fireworks? A motorbike to jump on the back off to take you away into the sunset? Perhaps a choreographed first dance? If so, you’ll want your hours of wedding photography to include this!

Are your guests party animals? 
Do your friends and family liven up when the dance floor lights up? Then its worth capturing all letting their hair down because there will be ‘drunk hugs a plenty’!

How many of hours of wedding photography do I recommend? 

It is always to talk things through with me beforehand. We can thrash out a timeline together and work out something bespoke for you both. However, as a rough guide I recommend:

2-3 hours of wedding photography for ceremony, a few group photos and some couple photos nearby.

6 hours of wedding photography for more intimate weddings and/or weddings which has the preparation, ceremony and reception all in one location. You could capture all the key moments from getting ready to sitting down to a meal. Or from ceremony to the speeches.

8 hours of wedding photography for an average size wedding (50-80 guests). You’l squeeze in preparation to party here, especially if the wedding is taking place in one location.

10 hours of wedding photography (what I call a full day). Provided you are not having the ceremony in Essex and the party in Blackpool on the same day, you’ll get the ‘whole shabang’ covered with no stress. This is often the package that gives you the most bang for your buck and means you don’t have to worry about getting things done at a specific time because the photographer has finished for the day.

When you book with me you always have the option to add on up to two hours of wedding photography on the day. So if the day is running behind or you decide that the party is absolutely banging and you want me to stay and get it all, then that can be done – even on the actual day.

What your hours of wedding photography cover.

One thing to bear in mind is that when you book a wedding photographer by the hour, or for the day, you are paying for continuous hours. Bar a loo and lunch break, a photographer won’t be clocking on and off during the day. So you will struggle to find a photographer who would be able to work on your day from, for example, 9am-11.30am leave and then return to work at 5pm-7pm. I always inform my clients that when you book me, the cost is covering more than the hours taking wedding photos on the day. It includes the time taken before and after the wedding day as well. The preparation, consultations, pre-wedding shoot, time spent the skill, the travel, the fee of a second photographer, the culling of photos (getting rid of any duplicates and duds), backing up before moving on to editing and delivery of photos. After the journey home from a wedding (which could be anywhere in the U.K.) I will back up and select a good handful of photos to edit and be ready to share with you the following morning. I have been known to still be up at 3am working to do this! And its a choice I make because I love what I do. I am so excited to share the photos with you and for you to wake up and see some of your precious moments again. It’s a long ass day for me and I value my couples who understand and appreciate this. It’s not a case of just turn up, take a few pics and go home – even though it looks like this! I arrive looking presentable and leave looking a hot mess – all for you. And then will spend hours at the computer after it all to create the story of your day.

If you still need a little help in deciding how many hours of wedding photography you need, don’t worry. I am happy to have a chat and help put together a package that is suitable for you. Let me know your ceremony time and I can take it from there, Get in touch. Don’t forget to check out my ‘relaxed wedding day timeline’ guide to also help you work out the number of hours of wedding photography that you need.

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Leicestershire wedding photography based in Rutland, near Leicestershire.

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