How Many Hours of Wedding Photography Do I Need?

Tips & Tricks

As a wedding photographer, I get this question all the time. The short answer is that most couples hire a wedding photographer for 8-12 hours.

The long answer is that it completely depends on your preference for pictures. Let’s split the wedding day into categories, we have:

– Getting Ready/Details

– First Look/Touch

– Bride and Groom Portraits

– Bridal Party

– Family

– Ceremony

– Reception

– Send Off

These will be in a different order for every wedding, but they are the main categories for a wedding gallery. When looking at this list, which pictures make you most excited? Make a list of which photos are a high priority for you. Are more of them at the beginning of the day or towards the end of the night? This will help you figure out what time your photographer should arrive and leave.

For example, if you really want those getting-ready pictures with your girls, your photographer will have to get there early. Or, if you’ve planned a beautiful send-off and you want your photographer to be there to capture it, they will have to stay later. But there are always ways to work around this, many couples opt to do a false send-off before their photographer leaves, and then walk right back and continue the party.

If you’re still asking yourself “how many hours of wedding photography do I need?” Here’s a breakdown of differences between my 12, 10, and 8 hour packages:

12 HOURS – This coverage gives you total flexibility with your timeline, and ensures that no moment is forgotten. This ensures that every detail gets the attention it deserves from rehearsal dinner toasts, to getting ready, to your reception send off! This is great for couples who want a relaxed wedding day without feeling rushed or stressed about time, or if something runs behind (like hair and makeup). If you have a large wedding party, 2 hours will fly by… having the full day documented will preserve those memories to look back on forever, and ensure you can relive every single moment.

10 HOURS – Don’t want to feel rushed to get all of the jaw-dropping shots everyone wants on their wedding day? Then at least 10 hours of coverage is the right way to go. Since we are on site for most of the day, there is enough time to get all of the detail and prep shots, plus plenty of extra time for a first look (if you want to do one). On top of that, nobody will have to rush through any of the wedding party and family portraits before getting to dinner and dancing.

8 HOURS – This package is great for capturing the essence of your wedding day! This package works best for weddings where the ceremony and reception are at the same location. Relive the big moments from getting ready in the morning, ceremony tears, and reception festivities. The coverage will typically include a few hours of reception photos but end before the final send off.

My biggest tip is this: Ask! Ask your photographer, your wedding planner, the venue coordinator, and your friends who have planned weddings, I guarantee they will have some tips for you. As a wedding photographer, I have learned a lot about the inner workings of weddings and I am happy to share any insight I have with you. Reach out to me at and let’s figure out which package is right for your best day!

As your wedding photographer, I am super flexible. I offer a complete full-day coverage package. That means that when you want me there, I’m there! And I’m not leaving until the night is done! If a big wedding gallery is your dream, this is the package for you. Together with my second shooter, we will capture every moment you want to look back on.


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golden hearts photos Offers wedding & portrait photography based in Raleigh, North Carolina