This is one of the most common questions every couple has when choosing a wedding package. There are so many options - 4 hours, 8 hours, 10 hours, 1/2 day coverage, full day coverage, all day coverage, etc. But, what does it all mean? What's the difference between full day and all day coverage? This seemingly simple question can quickly become complicated and is impossible to answer with a cookie cutter approach because every every couple and every wedding has unique needs.
When it comes to photography coverage, we must first understand that it's "continuous" coverage. Unless special arrangements have been made with your photographer, they aren't going to photograph your wedding in stages. For example, if you choose an 8 hour package, they aren't going to provide photography from 12pm - 4pm, break from 4pm - 7pm, and then resume coverage from 7pm - 11pm.
If your photographer's packages specifically indicate the hours of coverage, it's easy to see exactly what you're getting. An 8 hour package will provide 8 hour of coverage. However, what does it mean when your photographer uses terms like "1/2 day coverage" or "full day coverage?" The best piece of advice I can give you is don't assume anything! These terms usually differ between photographers. Some consider full day coverage to be 8 hours, while others consider it to be 12. It's very vague, but "all day" coverage makes you feel like you're getting more, right?
When it comes the wedding day, there are a lot of moving parts and many elements that need to be photographed.
Obviously, this is the part of the day when hair and makeup is being done. Generally speaking, you're hanging out with your bridal party and a few family members. You might even enjoy a couple cocktails. This is usually a fairly relaxed part of the day as you enjoy some quality time with people you deeply care about.
I would recommend your photographer arrives early enough to capture some photos of hair and makeup (especially the bride), details (dress, rings, shoes, etc.), post-ceremony first look (if applicable), and bridal portraits. This will likely require approx 2 hours depending on your specific timeline.
Photographers's Perspective: The getting ready part of the wedding day results in photographs that many couples really appreciate. It's common for gifts to be exchanged during this part of the day and the photos often capture some truly heartfelt moments. This is also the part of the day where we capture those creative photographs of your details (wedding dress, rings, shoes, etc.). After you've finished getting ready, it also includes time for those beautiful bridal portraits. All of these images combine to add another layer to the storytelling value of your wedding celebration.
The First Look and Bride/Groom Formals
The first look is when you and your partner see each other for the first time on your wedding day. Traditionally speaking, this happens at the ceremony. However, many couples now elect to have a pre-ceremony first look because it offers several unique advantages compared to the traditional setting. One benefit that most couples love, is gaining additional time at their wedding reception to be engaging with their guests. After the first look photos, we usually steal you away for some unique shots of just the two of you. Allow for at least an hour.
Photographer's Perspective: Unless you absolutely insist on sticking with a traditional first look, I strongly recommend you consider having a pre-ceremony first look.
The ceremony is pretty self explanatory - this is what your wedding is all about. The moment you and your partner vow to share the rest of your lives as one.
Photographer's Perspective: Your ceremony is the main event and the moments that come with the ceremony are very unique. One recommendation every couple should consider is having an "unplugged wedding." An unplugged wedding does not allow guests to take pictures or video during the ceremony. I can't tell you how many wedding photographs have been destroyed by a flash from a camera phone or a guest jumping in front of a photographer to take a blurry cell phone picture. Even if everyone remains seated, your ceremony photos will be filled with arms and hands raised in the air trying to capture that award winning photo and it really degrades the images from this special moment.
Again, traditionally speaking, following the wedding ceremony is when the photographs of the wedding party, families, and the creative portrait session of you and your partner are captured. These photos usually taken between 2-3 hours depending on the size of your families and wedding party.
Photographer's Perspective: If you elect the traditional first look (at the ceremony), you will want to allocate at least 2 hours for post-ceremony photographs. If you do a pre-ceremony first look, you can allocate 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Now it's time to celebrate your marriage and party! Typically, your wedding reception with include various events that you'll want photographed - wedding party introductions, first dances, toasts, cake cutting, and those fun dance photos of guests whooping it up on the dance floor.
Your reception will be a set amount of time - usually 5 hours. However, like the getting ready part of the day, you don't need to have your photographer there for all 5 hours. You can generally stop coverage 30-60 minutes before your reception end time and capture all of the important moments including images of guests dancing.
Photographer's Perspective: When creating your wedding day timeline, don't forget to include 20-30 minutes in your reception for your "sneak away" mini-session. This is the time we go outside to capture some of those dramatic night images such as sparklers!
ADDING IT ALL UP
Getting Ready: 2 hours
First Look: 1 hour
Ceremony: 1/2 to 3/4 hour
Post-Ceremony: 1-3 hours (depending on when you have your first look)
Reception: 4-5 hours
TOTAL TIME: 8 - 12 HOURS
WHAT OTHER FACTORS INFLUENCE THE TIME YOU'LL NEED FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY?
As we just discovered, it's going to generally take between 8-12 hours to photograph a wedding. However, there are some other factors that can influence the amount of time you'll need as well.
Cathy & Jenn of CatsMac Photography, Peterborough, Ontario.