Here are a few tips and tricks to figuring out how many hours of wedding photography you’ll ACTUALLY need….and for those of you who immediately are overwhelmed with information…I put a mock timeline at the bottom of this post…however, not all timelines are one size fits all. So it may benefit you to take a nice little swim in the waters of this information overload. Cause you don’t have enough to think about yet planning a wedding, right?
I’m going to just plop this one here first…Maybe it’s because I’m a little biased…but an experienced wedding photographer is going to know what is best in this department. You may have a wedding day coordinator or an event planner and they may want to take full control and plan everything out. That is literally what they are paid for, right? However, it is so crucial to make sure your wedding photographer is on the same page.
I’m not trying to take over if you do pay someone else to plan out your timeline, however, in my almost 10 years experience photographing weddings, there has never been a timeline that I did not need to politely ask for changes or tweak a little bit. You may have an event planner who is on the ball and knows what’s up, but still, check and see that everything makes sense with your photographer. There is a big difference between planning the day vs being the person who has to document it. Having both perspectives on how the day is going to go is going to be nothing but helpful!
Do you want your wedding photographer there for a grand exit? Sparklers, bubbles, paper airplanes, a good luck spitting tunnel (idk how you live your life)? If you want photos of that moment, your photographer obviously has to be there until the end.
Your venue will more than likely have a very specific time the party has to be over and all the people shooed away if they are located in an area with noise ordinance laws. They SHOULD tell you this, but if you’re still looking at venues, be sure to add this to your list of questions.
Are your people party animals? Is your group super casual and chill and want to call it a night early? Will YOU want to party all night long or will YOU want to call it an early night? This all will dictate how long you’ll want your wedding reception to be. A 4 hour reception can go by REALLY quickly or drag on FOREVERRRRRR depending on your people.
This may sound harsh but self awareness is a gift here people, haha. I cannot tell you how many weddings I have done where the bride and groom wanted to have an absolute RAGER of a reception…..and ended up with only 15-20 people sticking around feeling very uncomfortable. Know your audience, folks.
While I am a big believer that your day is YOUR day and I will fight to the death to make sure that is understood…we can’t ignore the fact that sometimes, it’s also kind of maybe sort of NOT your day at all, haha….Do you want/need to take photos at every table so you can greet all of your guests and ensure everyone is in a photo? Do you have LARGE families and your mom and auntie are 100% going to push for a large group photo and sub-group photos of family members you haven’t talked to in years??? These things take TIME…so think about it. I’ll be putting a mock timeline at the end of this post, but don’t be afraid to talk this out with your friendly, neighborhood wedding photographer. No timeline is one size fits all.
Let your photographer know about family obligations or family members that may be a bit pushy. That may sound strange but I’m telling you, it matters! Your wedding photographer can be the uber-awesome guard dog that can make sure things stay on track. I want to make sure you get the photos YOU want, but also balance out making your family and other guests feel heard and happy.
I will have a separate blog on second shooters (depending on when you’re reading this) and their benefits. But for this post I’ll just tell you that they can help save time at the beginning of your day. Your wedding photographer cannot be in two places at once. Having a second shooter means that you can have multiple things being captured at the same time. One photographer can be getting the bride and her girls while the other is getting the groom and his guys. Or perhaps the second shooter can be off handling those pushy family members we just talked about ;). The benefits are limitless.
Just a pro tip: People usually dip after the cake cutting. At least the elderly and folks with kids. It’s like the unspoken signal that the last wedding tradition has happened and you can now leave without people judging you. Again, this is not a one size fits all suggestion. As I mentioned before, just know your people.
Read the section above on what matters most to you…Everything adds up to more time. Prioritize what is most important to you and think about what may need to be cut if it doesn’t match your budget. OR, think about stretching the budget if you have to! I am a firm believer in budgets, however, I am also completely on the flip side of that philosophy as I am an ever firmer believer in YOGTDTO (You Only Get To Do This Once). Don’t miss out on capturing memories that you really find important to you.
I know I’m biased here. However, this is not the area you want to skimp on in the budget. I have heard story after story from guests at weddings where they prioritized other things in their budget, or simply just looked at the cost of a photographer without looking at the VALUE of that photographer (another blog post coming in hot). The end of these stories was always the same…regret. It is WORTH IT to pay for the photographer you want for the time it’s going to take.
Now this may sound like a selling point to get you to book more hours….but 1. You may be reading this and I’m not even your wedding photographer yet (which is INSANE, right?) and 2. It’s simply the truth. Wedding days hardly EVER go as planned. This happens mostly at the beginning of your day. Someone is running late, HMU is taking longer than you planned, some random very large problem has come up and you had to pause everything to solve it….SOOOOO many things can happen. Now that is not to scare you, but it’s just a reality.
Having wiggle room ensures that if something derails from the original timeline, you still have plenty of time to make up for it. Wiggle room = less stress. The most appealing part of all. I would much rather things go as planned and you have more time for photos or to just simply relax, than something gets off track and you have to nix photos, parts of your day, and be stressed out of your mind. I can tell you horror stories if you want some convincing, haha! Maybe I’ll make a separate blog for horror stories…that seems fun, yea? Trust me, learn from other’s mistakes!
Ok, for those of you who actually read all the things, are you overwhelmed yet? For those of you who skipped to the bottom….you’re like me, hahaha! But again, I do encourage you to read the above or schedule a call with your favorite wedding photographer (yours truly) to walk through a mock timeline together. A totally complimentary service that I offer to all of my clients :). My next career is going to be a wedding planner, I swear….anywho, here is a mock timeline.
I’m making up general times for a typical day for someone who values all the things and has a second shooter. Please remember that the time of year and your personal desires change the times listed here…unless you’re fortunate enough to pick the right time of year and desires align…in which case I just did all the work for you, haha! Ya welcome.
For longer wedding receptions or longer getting ready time. Believe it or not, this is my most popular package, so I’m going to roll with this for the mock. Remember, the getting ready time is where things derail the most. More time = Getting everything you want with less stress.
12:00 Getting Ready Photos and Details
1:30 Hair & Makeup Done for All/Casual Photos with Bridesmaids
2:30 Bride Dressed & Ready for First Look
3:00 First Look/Bridal Party Portraits
4:00 Tucked Away
5:00 Cocktail Hour/Family Portraits/Bride & Groom Portraits
6:00 Intros, First Dances, Welcome Speech/Prayer
7:00 Toasts & Open Dance Floor
7:30 Sunset Photos
9:00 Cake Cutting
9:50 Sparkler Exit
10:00 End – Clean up, Get out.
Again, reach out! There are so many factors to planning your wedding day timeline. Shoot me an email and we can set up an appointment to see what your specific day and desires might require. If you haven’t booked already, we will have a brief conversation about the big moments, and have a rough idea of how much time you’ll need. You can always book a package and upgrade it later too!
Apr 4, 2023
©2022 website design by STRATIFI creative, llc. PHOTOGRAPHY By VICTORIA V PHOTOGRAPHY