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How Long Should We Really Book Our Wedding Photographer For?

And do we need our pro to document the other wedding events, too?

Contributing Writer
rehearsal dinner hammock
Photography by: Lacie Hansen Photography

Wedding photographers often offer packages that include anywhere from six- to ten-hours of big-day coverage, and many include options to add on additional hours or events. Though pricing will vary from photographer to photographer, the amount of time (or the number of events) you hire them for will play a major part in the final price tag. So, how long should you really book a photographer for? We turned to the pros for answers.

 

Related: Moments You Need to Capture on Your Wedding Day

 

Multi-Day Wedding Celebrations

While an engagement photo shoot may help the couple get more comfortable with their photographer and in front of the camera, there aren't any real opportunities before the wedding weekend to help the bridal party or big-day guests shake their nerves. For that reason, photographer Thayer Allyson Gowdy always tells her destination wedding clients to consider including photography for at least one pre-wedding event. Gowdy says she especially loves documenting a destination wedding's rehearsal dinner or welcome party because the venue and the guest's attire are so exciting. Plus, the pro is able to document more of the couple's loved ones and get to know the crowd. "It makes a relaxed way to get images of guests, and a chance for the photographer to establish a relationship with family and guests, which allows for better imagery the day of the wedding," she explains.

 

Wedding Day Coverage

Photographer Lacie Hansen recommends day-of photography coverage to fall somewhere between eight and ten hours, though it does depend on the guest count and the timing of the ceremony and the reception. Hansen says, "I like to arrive earlier than my start time to get settled and familiarize myself with the space. This way we can spend some time photographing details like the dress, flowers, and jewelry without cutting into the contracted time." Make sure you share your wedding timeline with your pro, then come up with a coverage plan that works. You'll want time for getting-ready snaps, portraits, and coverage of the ceremony and reception. Noting that dancing photos can become a touch redundant after about 30 minutes, the pro says she typically plans to wrap up after about half an hour of dancing. If you're having a special exit, talk to your photographer about wanting coverage for this part of the day, too.

 

Unnecessary Coverage

More couples than ever are turning their wedding into a weekend worth of events, but the Sunday brunch is one place the pros all agree you can skip the photographer. Guests are typically tired and groggy from the wedding night and they may be rushed to catch a flight home. Gowdy warns, "I find no one wants a camera in their face on Sunday morning." If anything, the brunch could be a good opportunity for guests to snap last-minute camera phone shots with friends and say their goodbyes without thinking about the photographer nearby.