Sassafras Springs Vineyard wedding venue

How Many Hours do You Need Your Wedding Photographer?

One thing I’ve realized over the years is that photographers are very different in a lot of aspects. One of those differences is how many hours we start with. I very rarely do less than 4 hours on a wedding day while others will start out at 4 hours. Most brides don’t really know how long they need, so I always try to guide them depending on how their wedding is set up. Today I thought I’d explain my thoughts on how many hours do you need your wedding photographer. 

How Many Hours do You Need Your Wedding Photographer?

There are plenty of things to consider when figuring out the amount of time you need, but I thought I’d start off just sharing some of my personal thoughts. After years of doing wedding photography, I’ve found that for me 5-8 hours is the good spot. If we try to do less than 5 hours, we either miss something important or we are really rushed. 5-6 hours lets us cover the majority of the day and we aren’t stressed. 7-8 hours lets us really get a lot done.

Another big part of my choice of hours has to do with my personality. I want to really know my couples and be really involved. I don’t want to just show up for the ceremony and that be it. That makes me feel like I’m missing out on so much part of the day.

Alright, so that’s enough of my philosophy, so let’s jump into other things to consider. When I’m trying to figure out the timing of things, I try to put down some landmarks. The first is the ceremony. That’s the thing that’s set in stone. Find out that time and how long the ceremony is, and then you can move from there.

ceremony at Slloam Springs

The next thing to consider is the getting ready part. Do you have a lot of people in the wedding party? Is it going to take a lot of time to get makeup and hair done? How much of that do you want covered? Do you want to try to get all the portraits done before the ceremony? Most likely you’ll spend 2-4 hours depending on how you do things.

Flower girl looking at hanging wedding dress

The last thing to consider is the reception and the exit. Some people have crazy involved receptions and want to party all night long. Others are pretty simple and short. The other thing is the exit. If you want to do an exit, you’ll either have to wait till the real end of the night, which can add a lot of hours or you can do a fake exit and the photographer can leave earlier. Depending on which way you go, you could be looking at 1.5 – 5 hours for the reception.

How Many Hours do You Need Your Wedding Photographer

What about all day coverage? Some photographers claim that they will give you unlimited hours. While that sounds amazing, it really might not be a great idea. We use to offer this, so I can tell you that. The first problem with unlimited hours is you really, really don’t need that many photos. Do you think you need photos of all 4 hours of you getting ready? Do you really think you need photos from 4 hours of the same people dancing? Most of the time the photographer will just be sitting around trying to find something interesting to take photos of and it’s a waste. The other big issue is fatigue, physically and creatively. 8 hours of wedding photography is like 16 hours of most jobs. You just get tired and you start to mentally lose it as well. I know I’m pretty done at 8 hours, so I don’t know how other photographers go 10 hours or more.

I hope this has helped answer the question, “How Many Hours do You Need Your Wedding Photographer?” It will vary from person to person, but if you sit down and look at your day and what you’re wanting you should be able to figure it out. Again, for me, I really think 5-8 hours is a solid amount, but feel free to go through all of this and see what works for you.

Share this post