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How Much Photography Coverage do you REALLY need?

A questions most every client asks when planning their wedding is "How many hours of photography do I honestly need?"

I give each bride a play by play scenario of the day based on their ceremony time and first look or traditional timeline preference, and try my best to explain the coverage option perfect for them. Wedding photography is definitely not 'one size fits all' when it comes to creating a timeline. Some brides opt for a shorter wedding day, while others plan festivities for their wedding from sunrise to way beyond sunset. Here are some tips when it comes to thinking about which coverage option is the best for you. Remember that all wedding days are different, and your timeline may differ due to travel times and unique situations.

Bridal Details and Getting Ready photos (Plan for 1.5 hours)

Every bride loves having those beautiful shots of her bridal details. It’s an important part of the story and I love having some time to shoot the dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, etc.

These shots allow me to get warmed up for the rest of the big day. I normally like to allow at least 45 minutes for this part of the day. While I’m shooting details, I’m also capturing some shots of the bride and her girls getting ready! If the groom is getting ready nearby, my second

shooter will begin photographing the boys close to 40 minutes before the first look since it always takes them less time to get dressed!

After the details have been photographed, it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! This is a big moment! I usually ask the mother of the bride and all of the bridesmaids to be dressed by the time the bride is ready to get into her dress. This ensures that everyone will look nice

in those images. After the bride is in her gown, she can put on her jewelry, veil, shoes, etc. and I will shoot some additional bridal portraits!

First Look and Portraits: (Plan for 30-45 minutes, longer if planning to exchange gifts or letters during first look)

This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day! I will find the perfect location for my couple’s First Look prior to the getting ready portion of the day! Don’t stress about that one

bit! I will make sure the location is private and as secluded as possible.

After the bride and groom take their time with the First Look, I will begin taking a few romantic portraits of the two of them while the initial excitement is still present! I will find the locations for these shots as well! Remember, the LIGHT determines where we shoot and so I can’t decide on portrait locations until the day-of. As I shoot these portraits, the bridal party can start making their way to us for Bridal Party portraits!

Bridal Party Portraits: (Plan 30-40 minutes)

Now it’s time for Bridal Party shots! I buffer in extra time throughout the day just in case we have some unexpected things that hold us up! One way to make sure we stay on schedule for bridal party portraits is to have someone put the boutonnieres on the guys BEFORE they arrive for portraits. During Bridal Party portraits, I will make sure to take some great shots of the guys and girls both separately AND together! After bridal party portraits are complete, the bride will go into hiding so that early guests don’t sneak a peek, and the ushers will begin their duties.

Between this time and the ceremony I capture reception details and images of guests arriving.

If the reception is in the same location as the ceremony, I will use this time to shoot the reception decor UNTOUCHED. If the ceremony and reception are in different locations, I recommend having a cocktail hour outside of the main reception area if possible so that I

can grab some great shots of your reception before the night begins and guests start laying down purses and coats on their seats!

Ceremony: (30 minutes on average) It’s time to get married!! Most ceremonies are 30 minutes long. If your ceremony is longer than 30 mins, I’ll make adjustments to the timeline! Cherish these moments! Your ceremony will pass by so quickly!

Family Formals: (Plan 30 minutes) Family formals normally take place immediately following the ceremony. It’s best to save all of the family formals until after the ceremony because ALL family members will be present at that time.We’ll need about 30 minutes for family formals and I will send a questionnaire before the wedding where you can list out the shots that you want. I recommend shooting portraits outdoors if possible so that they resemble more natural family portraits, especially if the ceremony location is dark!

A Few "Just Married" Portraits: (Plan 15-20 minutes) 7:00pm is the BEST time of day for portraits in the late spring, summer and early fall! This is when the sun is glowy and golden. I love having a few extra minutes with the bride and

groom to take a few “Just Married”portraits right after family formals!

Reception begins: (Coverage depends on a lot of different factors for receptions)

This is when the bridal party lines up for introductions and the party begins!! By this part of the day, my timeline isn’t as strict. I work off of the natural light and so after the sun is set, my portrait time is over and I begin focusing on the reception events! I normally include 8 hours of coverage so that I can be present for the main events of the reception and about an hour

of dancing! If you’re interested in having your exit photographed, there are several options for this!

You can either add additional coverage or plan a faux exit with just your bridal party! I have had GREAT success with this and the party never stops! Email me about this if you’re interested in learning more!


To recap-

DETAILS & PREP : 1.5 Hours


BRIDAL PARTY : 30-40 Mins


EXTRA PORTRAIT TIME : As much time as you will give me!!

This does not include ceremony time, reception time, or travel time

The question to ask is not "HOW MUCH TIME DO I NEED", it is "What do I want my pictures to reflect/ tell the story of?"

With that being said, if you are trying to stay within a budget for your photography, it is important to choose wisely which areas you want photographed the most. I always recommend coverage earlier in the day vs. extra reception coverage. You can only have SO many images of your Uncle Gary dancing, and people mingling with cocktails. However, the images of you and your best friends getting ready on your wedding day, the emotions and jitters before the ceremony, and the first look between your friends, your parents, and your spouse will be so much more valuable to you at the end of the day.

6 Hours- You want the main events covered as a base, but aren't planning to have your exit captured. OR are planning a relatively short reception (no sit down meal, no DJ, etc.) You are okay with not having everything captured on your wedding day (usually the reception coverage is what is lacking).

8 Hours- This is the option MOST of my clients choose, just because it gives a good coverage of everything! From getting ready, to reception you are covered.

9-10 Hours- If you are planning to have a long reception with lots of dancing and want your final exit captured (sparklers, glow sticks, etc.), you have to account for travel time between locations, or you are planning a long ceremony (Catholic weddings) you may want to look into a 10 hour coverage option.


Are you getting married? I would love to hear more about your wedding plans and see if I would be a good fit to serve you on your wedding day for Photography and/orVideography. Check out more about Hello Jude Weddings HERE

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