How many hours should I book my wedding photographer for?
This is a very commonly asked question. In reality, it all depends on what is important to the bride and groom. However, from a photographers stand point, I would say at least six hours. This allows me to get the traditional and important shots. All to often I hear of bride and grooms that feel that they only need their photographer for a matter of a couple hours. More times than not, the couple has underestimated the amount of time it takes to get all of those “must have’’ photos, and in the end wish they would have allotted more time for photos.
When it comes to the wedding day timeline, you have to consider five main things.
1: What time will the ceremony start?
Most of the time the day is built around what time the ceremony will start. Once that is established, we can determine how the rest of the day will play out. One really important thing to factor in is if the ceremony and reception is all at the same place. If they are at the same venue you don’t have to worry about travel time. But, if you are having your ceremony and reception at different venus, travel time MUST be taken into consideration.
2 : What time will the photographer arrive?
Once again, this all depends on what time the ceremony will start. Personally, I like arrive at least three hours before the ceremony starts. This allows me to get some of my favorite photos of the day. Some of my favorite photos to take are detail shots, the dress, shoes, flowers, and the bling! Getting ready shots are often times the photos that bride and grooms think they don’t want or need, but from experience, those are almost always some of the bride and grooms favorite shots of the day. So I really stress how important those little details are to all my clients.
3: Are you doing a “first look’’?
A "first look" also plays a big roll in determining how many hours of photography coverage you will need. Personally, I LOVE first looks for a variety of reasons. It helps easy those wedding day jitters, thus creating a more laid back vibe. It also allows more time to get those "must have photos" of the day. One of my favorite reason why I love doing a first look is because it gives the bride and groom a very private and intimate moment for just them as a couple. A speical moment you can treasure forever, along with photos to look back on and recall how you felt. From there we can get all of the traditional photos done. Bride and groom portraits, bridal party, family, etc. As well as giving you time to rest and regroup before you walk down the isle.
4: The ceremony
This is where I get a chance to get a lot traditional shots, dad walking his daughter down the isle, the grooms face, the mothers face and or tears, the exchange of rings, the vows, and the kiss! Generally, right after the ceremony is over we get a chance to take more photos of the bride and groom and any formal shots that we didn’t get before the ceremony.
5: The reception
This is where people always have trouble deciding how long they want me to stay. And in all honesty, after all the traditional photos are taken (introductions as a married couple, the first dance, cutting of the cake, toasts, guests, etc.) the photos start to become very repetitive with the same people dancing and eating. In my professional opinion, I don’t see the need to stay until the very end of the reception. Simply because in all my years and 100’s of weddings I’ve shot, I have never once had the bride and groom order a print from the reception. With the exception of the cake or first dance. Think about it, would you be more likely to hang a photo of your "first look" or people eating cake?
In the end the bride and groom have to make this decision. My advice is to sit down and really talk about what is most important to you on your wedding day. In 10 years from now, you want to look back on your wedding day and be happy with your choices. Also, work closely and be completely honest with your photographer about you wants, needs and any concerns. Have a plan so that when your wedding day comes you and your photographer are prepared and not rushed.