How Much Wedding Photography Coverage Do You Really Need?

Some couples are surprised to learn that booking a wedding photographer requires a little more than just finding someone whose work you love and making sure they’re available on your wedding date. Those are probably the two most important factors, but you’ll also need to determine how much wedding photography coverage you need for your wedding day.

Most wedding photographers offer a few different options when it comes to wedding day coverage. For example, I offer three different packages: six hours, eight hours, and full day coverage. When you’re thinking about how much coverage you need for your wedding day, there’s a few things to keep in mind beyond just how long your ceremony and reception are going to be.


If you and your guests are going to be driving to different venues, e.g. from the hotel in the morning to the church and then from the church to the reception venue, you’ll need to factor that into your time estimate. If you’re right at six hours when you add up the ceremony and the reception coverage you want, it might be a good idea to bump your wedding photographer coverage up to eight hours to make sure you are covering the extra driving time and allow for unexpected things that might come up!


Traditional Catholic Masses do take a bit longer than non-traditional ceremonies; usually between an hour and an hour and a half. Most of my clients that are having a traditional Catholic Mass end up needing to go for either eight hours of coverage or a full day due to the length of the ceremony (plus travel time).

Receiving Line

Receiving lines are one way to make sure you have personal, one-on-one contact with every one of your guests on your wedding day. With everything that’s happening and how fast the day goes, it can be hard to connect with everyone without doing one. However, they do add a bit of time to the ceremony. If you want to save time, some couples do table visits before dinner. You visit each table for a few minutes, which allows you to have more intimate conversations with your guests. However, you won’t have the chance to hug and talk to each person individually like you would in a receiving line.

First Look

If you know me at all, you know I love a first look. I think these are so worth the extra time they take before the ceremony. One hour is enough time for the first look, especially because I can usually find a nice spot near the ceremony venue. Not only does using the ceremony site save a bit of travel time, it also minimizes the risk of potentially messing up the dress, hair, or the bride’s makeup before the ceremony starts!

Send Off

Are you doing some kind of send off at the end of the reception that you want photographed? Some couples have everyone come outside and light lanterns, hold sparklers, and some couples even have full on fireworks! Generally, you’re going to want to do this at the very end of the reception, in which case, you’re going to need a full day of coverage. Some couples do a “faux send off” before the dancing starts, but if you need it to be dark outside for the type of send off you’re doing, this may not be an option. Be sure to check what time the sun typically goes down that time of year if a nighttime send off is part of your wedding day plans.

Whether you opt for six hours, eight hours, or a full day of wedding coverage from your photographer, the primary thing you’re going to want to make sure you do is allow yourself enough time to enjoy the day without worrying about how much time you have left and whether it’s going to be enough. If you have questions about which option is best for you, just ask! I am always happy to look over a couple’s timeline and make a recommendation. Remember, your wedding photographer has literally been to dozens and dozens of weddings (if not more) and they know what to expect and what can happen! A good wedding photographer will give you good advice and won’t just try to upsell you.

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