How Many Hours Do I Need My Wedding Photographer?

July 20, 2017

One of the most frequently asked questions, and one of the first things (and more important things) that is discussed during a wedding photography consultation is: How many hours should I book my wedding photographer?

This is a FANTASTIC question, and because every wedding is different….here are some things to consider:

What do you want covered?

First, decide what parts of the day you definitely want covered. Do you want a lot of getting ready shots prior to the ceremony? Do you want the entire reception? Do you have a special exit planned that you want to make sure is covered? These details will affect the length of time you will need your photographer on your wedding day. If there is no special exit planned, typically just staying for just the main events in the reception (and not until the last guest leaves), makes the most sense. The first step, then, is decided on a start and end time.

Bride and bridesmaids

Ceremony Length

Some ceremonies are short and simple, and others (like Catholic ceremonies, for instance) can be quite a bit longer. It’s always best to factor in a little cushion, as well, just in case there are little hiccups that delay the start of things.

Belmont Abbey Wedding

Location Transfer

Location is another point to consider. If you have a shorter ceremony and your reception is at the same venue as your ceremony, then travel time won’t be an issue.

However, if your reception is at a different venue, include time to travel from one point to another. Also incorporate the amount of time it takes to pack everything up to take to the reception. If you are going to take photos along the drive to the reception (which we often do along the Blue Ridge Parkway or other scenic spots in Boone, Blowing Rock, or Banner Elk), more time will need to be added for that as well.

Wedding portrait blue ridge parkway

Formal Photo Requirements

For formal photos, you have to consider how many people are in your bridal party, and how many people are going to be in your family photos. If you have a small bridal party and a small number of family members having photos done, (and you’re at the same location the whole time), then these formal group photos can oftentimes be done rather quickly. I highly recommend having a formal group photo shot list as it helps make these group photos move efficiently and fast.

Special Exit

If you’re doing a special exit from the reception that you want to make sure is covered, keep in mind the time it takes to organize the exit (lining up guests, handing out sparklers or bubbles, etc., and then executing the actual exit).

Bubble exit wedding hickory, nc

Every bride has different priorities for wedding photography. Deciding what is important to capture on your wedding day will help you finalize the number of hours you’ll need a photographer on that day.