Rainy wedding day.

How Many Hours of Wedding Photography Do I Need?

The most common question we receive from couples is “how many hours of wedding photography do we need?”. It makes sense that we hear it so often- it’s a fantastic question!

I’ll go ahead and assume you’ve never planned a wedding before, because most newly engaged couples haven’t. How the heck are you supposed to know how many hours of wedding photography you need? Well don’t worry, we are here to help!!

The first, most important thing to know: There is not a right or wrong answer. Timelines you’ll find on wedding websites or Pinterest are good guideposts, but they’re just that: a guide. Just like every love story is unique, so is every wedding, and so is every wedding timeline.

Here is where we suggest you start: talk about your priorities.

Sit down with your fiancé- and get comfy. Grab some popcorn and a beverage and really talk through your wedding plans.

Run through every section of your wedding day, and really decide how you’d like every moment to feel.

For example, usually the first moments of your wedding day is getting ready. When thinking about getting ready on your wedding day, what does that look like for you?

Remember- this is about YOU want. This is not about what cousin Becky did at her wedding, or what Pinterest recommends you do. This is about what YOU see when you envision your ideal wedding day.

So- what would this moment look like for you if your photographer wasn’t there? Are you getting ready together? Separately? Is your wedding party there? Any family members? What level of privacy is important to you in these moments? How do you want these moments captured, if at all?

Intentionally asking yourself these questions for every section of your wedding day may open your eyes to realizing you want to enjoy these moments privately, or they may be high priority moments to be captured. Clarifying your priorities can help you shift your media team arrival and departure time. If you’d like to prioritize pre-ceremony events (like getting ready, any first looks, detail photos), you can have your team arrive earlier in the day, and leave earlier into the reception. If you’d prefer to prioritize the reception events (first dances, dinner, open dance floor), you may have your team arrive at the tail end of getting ready (or forego getting ready pictures altogether), and have them stay later into the party.

So, now you have your priorities nailed down: what’s next?

Ask your Photographer & Videographer.

Vendors should offer at least one (preferably two) timeline meetings with couples. These meeting are crucial in deciding how many hours of wedding photography and videography you need. Good communication and being on the same page with your vendors is extremely important.

We want to prioritize on your experience more than anything, so we will always ask the following questions:

  • What are the priority moments that you’d like captured?
  • How much time would you like to spend focused on portraits?
  • How do you want to feel on your wedding day?
  • What level of privacy do you want in certain moments?

How you answer those questions will help inform us on how we can best serve you and help you have your ideal wedding day. Remember- this is about YOU- not us. We will always listen to your hopes and desires, and then we will come in to help make that happen for you.

Pad Your Timeline.

Just like every love story, wedding day and wedding timeline is unique: so is every photographer and videographer. Some photographers may prefer to capture certain elements quickly, while others prefer to take their time. Your photographer and videographer will be able to tell you how much time they require in order to get the best results.

We prefer to always prepare for “What If” scenarios. For instance, we know we can usually get family, wedding party, and your newlywed portraits done within an hour. But- what if Uncle Bob forgets he is a part of family photos and heads straight to cocktail hour, then we spend 10 minutes tracking him down?

So while we could get all of the ‘big’ portraits done within an hour, planning only an hour gives you no room for ‘what if’ moments. We are big fans of the 30/30/30 rule. 30 minutes for family portraits, 30 minutes for wedding party portraits, 30 minutes for newlywed portraits. However long something “should” take- add padding to that.

If we use all the time- great! If not, then you have an unexpected few minutes to just relax.

Communication is Key.

So, the real answer: how many hours of wedding photography do you need? There is no definitive answer.

It depends on your priorities, your photo & video team, and how you want to feel on your wedding day.

In our experience as wedding photographers and videographers, communication is everything. Communicating with your media team and with your fiancé is the key to building a solid timeline and having a stress free, relaxed wedding day. For your specific wedding day, you may need anywhere from 6-12 hours of coverage.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help. If this is your first time building a wedding timeline, we know it can be confusing and sometimes overwhelming! We promise- it doesn’t have to be. We are always happy to talk through your wedding plan and give you options, even during your inquiry call with us.

The most important things to remember:

  • This is about YOU and your partner’s priorities.
  • Always give yourself extra time.
  • Communication = everything.
  • We are always here to help, wether you’ve booked us or not.

HI FRIENDS! We’re Sarah & Chase: the dynamic duo / husband-and-wife team chasing love and adventure through a camera lens. We’d love to support you while you plan your wedding & capture your unique love story.

Photos from Amber & Tyler’s wedding day at Northern Ridge Event Center in Amanda, Ohio.