How many hours of wedding photography do you need?

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May 21, 2019

Wedding Photography Coverage Calculator

Planning your wedding day timeline is one of the most challenging things you’ll have to deal with during the planning process! I love working with my photography clients to create a custom timeline for their wedding day, and most wedding planners/day-of coordinators also offer this service as well! I think it’s helpful to get an idea of what your wedding day timeline will look like before you decide on how many hours you want to schedule with your photographer! I’ve had inquiries from couples who requested to book as little as 4 hours of coverage all the way up to 12 hours! Both of these couples were basing the coverage time on what they thought they would need on the wedding day before they created an estimated timeline, but once we sat down and looked at what they were wanting, this number usually changed.

The Sweet Spot

After shooting tons of weddings, I personally think that 9 hours of photography coverage is the sweet spot! Nine hours of photography coverage allows plenty of time to capture the important details of your wedding day while providing enough buffer time in case the timeline gets off a bit for whatever reason! This is also great for couples who don’t have the budget to do full wedding day coverage but still want all the important aspects of the day documented.

Buffer Time

Buffer time is SO important, and I think couples underestimate the importance of it! I’ve only photographed one wedding where the ceremony actually started on time! So while it’s usually not a big deal if the timeline gets off a bit, when you’re working with natural light (a.k.a. sunset time!!) and other vendors, it’s helpful to have that buffer worked in ahead of time to prevent getting too far off schedule!


Another super important thing to consider is the sunset time on your wedding day! A quick Google search of “Sunset [YOUR WEDDING DATE]” will show you exactly what time the sun will disappear. This is especially important if you aren’t planning on doing a first look before the ceremony, because that means you’ll need at least an hour of sunlight after the ceremony is over to get all your images. So if the sunset is at 7 p.m. on your wedding day, the ceremony should end no later than 6 p.m.!

To help you determine how many hours you’ll need, download my free wedding photography coverage calculator! This worksheet will help you quickly estimate the number of hours you should book with your wedding photographer. Of course, be sure to consult with them directly to see what they recommend, but this will get you in the ballpark!

Want more wedding planning tips? Read more posts here!

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