One of my most frequently asked questions regarding wedding photography is: How long should I book my wedding photographer for? This is a GREAT question, and I am here to (hopefully) help you find the answer.
What do you want covered?
The first step is deciding what important details you want covered. Do you desire a lot of getting ready shots prior to the ceremony? Do you want your photographer to stay for the entire duration of your reception? These details will affect the length of time you will need your photographer there. If you want your photographer to stay until your reception exit and you want a lot of candid, getting ready images, you will need full day coverage. If you just want a few preparation shots, that will knock off some time needed. If you want your photographer to simply stay for the main events at the reception (toasts, cake cutting, special dances, etc.) and not until the last song is played , then this will also shorten the day. By deciding on a start and/or end time, this is the beginning step to booking the package right for you.
Next, you need to think about the length of your wedding ceremony. For a Catholic wedding, the ceremony tends to be longer; therefore, you will need to allot more time for that. If you want full coverage of getting ready, the ceremony, and the reception, I would suggest full day coverage for Catholic weddings. If you have a shorter ceremony, you will not need to take out as much time from your schedule.
Now let's talk about location. If you have a shorter ceremony and your reception is at the same venue as your ceremony, then you will not require as much time because you can take out travel time. I would estimate a wedding shorter in length with a reception at the same venue to need six to eight hours of coverage, depending on formal portraits.
Along the same lines, if your reception is at a different venue, you will need to include travel time into your schedule. In addition, incorporate the amount of time it takes to pack up all of your belongings to take to the reception (better yet request a trusted family member or friend to help get this done prior to the start of the ceremony or immediately following). If you are stopping for photos along the drive to the reception, more time will need to be added for that as well.
Formal Portrait Requirements
For formal portraits, you have to take into consideration how many people are in your bridal party. How many family members will be part of your family portraits? If you have a smaller bridal party and a smaller family having included in photos, (and you are at the same location for the duration of the day), then six to seven hours of coverage will suffice. If you have a larger family and/or bridal party, you will need closer to eight to nine hours of coverage.
If you are doing a special exit from the reception, for example a sparkler exit, you will more than likely need full day coverage.
When Simple Works
Some weddings can be covered in four hours. If you are having a backyard wedding, a courthouse wedding, or a shorter reception (for example, no dancing) with a sit down dinner at a restaurant, then your coverage can be met in a shorter amount of time.
Other things to consider? Are you doing a first look prior to the ceremony? How much time do you have between the ceremony and reception? Are you planning on capturing all bridal party images following the ceremony or will some be taken prior (think groom/groomsman images and bride/bridesmaid images)? Communication between a couple and their photographer is key to achieving a a beautiful gallery of wedding images that tells the story of the day. Do not be afraid to ask your photographer how much time he or she will need for family portraits, bride/groom portraits, etc. Plan for this in advance and together work on a timeline for the day. It is much easier to find "hidden" 10-15 minute pockets of time weeks ahead of time versus on the big day!
Congratulations and Happy Planning!
Are you a 2017 bride or groom of Oak Harbor, Port Clinton, or surrounding Northwest Ohio looking for a wedding photographer to tell the story of your special day? Head on over to the Contact page, shoot me a message, and let's get together to discuss my various wedding packages!