How Many Hours of Wedding Photography Coverage Do You Need?

When you first get engaged, it can be overwhelming trying to plan for how many hours of photography coverage you may need for a wedding that isn’t happening for months, or even for over a year! That’s why today I wanted to share some of my tips on how to pin down how much coverage you’ll need.

So, if you’d like to save some time and stress in planning out how many hours you may need, keep scrolling!


First things first, get your dream wedding venue booked! When you book a venue they will give you a ceremony, cocktail hour and reception start time. From there, we can work backward! Furthermore, some venues will allow you to book anywhere from 6-10 hours. So, the package you choose with them will help to dictate how much coverage you’ll need with your photographer.


Determine ceremony start time and the type of ceremony. Is it a 20-minute ceremony at the venue, or a 1-hour church ceremony? This varies in how detailed your ceremony is and if what kind of wedding it is. This will help a lot in determining the allotted time needed as well.


Determine cocktail hour start and end time – are you having a 1 hour cocktail hour or an hour and a half cocktail hour? Recently I have seen many of my coupes extend cocktail hour. This can be especially helpful if you are not doing a first look and have many formal pictures that have to be taken during the cocktail hour time!


Determine the reception start and end time by speaking with the venue directly or your wedding planner. As a photographer, sometimes I stay until after cake cutting, and sometimes until the last minute of your reception! If you are doing a grand exit, you’ll definitely want me to stay until the end! No matter what, I will always get the formalities (entrances, special dances, and speeches). You can also think about if you want the crazy fun dancing pictures – these usually happen after all the formalities take place, and people have a few drinks in them!


Now we work backward from the reception – is there transportation involved? Is your ceremony in the same location as the venue? If you’re doing a first look, I always end family photos a half hour before the ceremony to give the bride and groom, bridal party, and family time to freshen up and take a break before the ceremony.

Every wedding is truly unique so pinning down these small details helps to ensure you’re not missing anything that you’d like captured.


Determine if you would like to do a first look. If you are doing a first look, we will leave a minimum of a half-hour time for the first look and some bride and groom portraits. These will be followed by bridal party and family portraits (this time frame can vary based on how big your bridal party and family is).


Determine if you’d like getting ready photos. Every photographer is different, but I like to allow an hour and a half of photography coverage for the bride getting ready. There is a lot to capture during this time! Here are some things I capture during getting ready time: Hair/makeup finishing up, detail photos, robe/pj photos, giving out gifts, getting dressed, first looks (parents, bridesmaids/groomsmen), and cheers with everyone too! There is so much goodness to capture during that period of time.


12:30pm: Photographers Arrive at Hotel
1:30 pm: Leave for the venue
2:30 pm: Arrive at the venue
2:40: Bride gets into her dress
2:50 pm: Brides’ first look with her dad
3:00 pm: Bride & Groom’s First Look followed by portraits
3:50 pm: Bridal Party Portraits
4:20 pm: Family Portraits
5:00 pm: Finish formal pictures, break for couple, bridal party, family
5:15 pm: Guests Begin Arriving
5:45 pm: Ceremony Begins
6:15 pm: Cocktail Hour
7:00 pm: Bride and Groom sneak away for golden hour portraits
7:30pm: Reception Begins
10:30 pm: End Photography Coverage
11:30pm: Reception Ends


Now that we have the wedding day photography covered, think about if you would also like your rehearsal dinner captured! So many great candids and group pictures are captured at rehearsal dinners that we sometimes don’t have time for on a wedding day

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I pay for photography coverage during travel time?

With Siobhan Stanton Photography, you do not pay for the travel time it takes to arrive at the beginning of the day. Once photography coverage starts until it ends, all of those hours in between are paid for. If there is travel time between getting ready locations, ceremony, and/or venue, that time is included within your photography coverage hours.

If I book an 8 hour package, and want to add additional hours before my wedding, am I able to do that?

Absolutely! You are welcome to add up to three hours of coverage to your original photography package.

Will you schedule breaks in the timeline?

Yes! We will always make sure to get the must have moments and pictures. But, your day should not revolve around taking group photos! When group photos or couple photos are not being taken, we will be getting candids, guests, decor, details, and all formalities.


A place for you to view more examples of my work through past weddings, engagement sessions, and events, and learn tips for your big day.