Work out how many hours of photography coverage you'll need on your wedding day
When we're being booked for a wedding shoot, one of the first questions we ask our clients is ‘how many hours of coverage do you need?’
Pulling a number out of thin air won’t work — after all, you want to make sure every special moment is captured. The best way to work it out is to sit down with a pen and paper and write out your wedding timeline.
We’ve put together this guide to help you plan the events at your wedding and give you a clear idea of how many hours you'll need us for, based on which events you want to be documented.
Remember, this is just a guide – you can easily tweak it for your own needs.
Let's plan your timeline
The wedding ceremony is the main attraction, and it's the anchor point for building your timeline. In this guide, we'll use 5 pm as the start time.
This session can be longer or shorter depending on how much of the preparation you wanted to be documented. During this time we could capture group photos of the morning's excitement, we can also do solo portraits, portraits of bridesmaids, portraits of groomsmen, and concept photos such as a first look between the bride and her father or the bride and the groom.
5 pm-5:30 pm — The Ceremony
Civil ceremonies last between 15 to 30 minutes, while religious ceremonies usually last an hour. For our guide, let’s plan on a 30-minute ceremony.
Next, think about what you want to happen afterward:
Do you want to stand in a receiving line to say hi to all your guests?
Do you want to go straight into the formal pictures?
Is it time for cocktail hour?
5:30 pm-6:30 pm — Formals and Cocktail Hour
In our example, we'll start the formal pictures as soon as the ceremony is done. While you and your closest friends pose, cocktail hour can begin for your other guests. You can read more about planning formal photos at the end of the guide.
We'll spend about half an hour taking pictures with the wedding party and family. For the other 30 minutes, we'll capture beautiful portraits of the happy couple. Of course, this is just a suggestion and you could split this time any way you want to.
6:30 pm — Grand Entrance to the Reception Area
We'll snap a few shots as you walk in to greet your guests as newlyweds.
6:30 pm-7:30 pm — Dinner and Toast
Talk to your venue, wedding planner, and DJ about when you want the speeches to start. In our experience, most speeches start 30 minutes to one hour after dinner begins. In our example timeline, we have the toast at 7:15 pm and expect them to talk for around 15 minutes.
7:30 pm-8 pm — Formal Dances and Cake Cutting
The next big photo-worthy moment is the cake cutting, followed by the first dance between the happy couple.
8 pm-11 pm — Dancing!
Once the formal part of the day is over, it's time for the fun to begin. This is the perfect opportunity to get some candid shots of your friends and family enjoying themselves.
Our sample wedding photography timeline...
Now that we've worked out the main parts of the day and the amount of time they'll take, here's what our timeline looks like:
3 pm-5 pm — Getting ready and venue pictures
5pm-5:30pm — Ceremony
5:30 pm-6:30 pm — Formal wedding photographs and cocktail hour
6:30 pm — Grand entrance to the reception area
6:30pm-7:30pm —Dinner (with toast at 7:15pm)
7:30 pm-8 pm — Formal dances and cake cutting
8 pm-11 pm — Dancing!
Obviously, you can tailor the timeline to your own needs, it's just a case of sitting down and thinking about the type of pictures you want and how long it will take to capture them. After all, it’s your day — we’re just there to commemorate it.
A Quick Note on Wedding Formals...
Wedding formals are a beautiful way to capture the moment with the most important people in your life. Usually, this will be your wedding party and immediate family, although it can be tricky to choose which people to include in your formal photographs.
If your list is quite long, we can make more time for the formal photographs. Alternatively, we could shorten the list and limit it to your parents, siblings, children, and best friends, and then capture the others on your list during the reception.
We hope this helps! Feel free to contact us with any questions.