How many hours do we need our wedding photographer for?


Like us, most wedding photographers, base their wedding photography packages around hours coverage. However, most couples, especially early in their wedding planning, are really unsure of how many hours they will actually need.

We have put together a simple guide and want to also share our top 5 points to consider when determining wedding photography hours needed:


Our suggestion is to start with considering what wedding events you want captured. Do you want wedding morning preparation photos (hint, prep photos are some our favourite!), or are you happy for the photographer to start at ceremony location? And, alternatively, do you want the photographer to be around to capture those wild dance floor moments (again some of the funniest moments), or do you envisage a romantic sparkler exit which really should be photographed?

Deciding on the most important events you want captured will give you a great start in working out how many hours you may need your photographer for.

Do you want your photographer to capture wedding day morning moments?

Do you want your photographer to capture your wedding exit?


However, the true decision often comes down to that dreaded wedding budget (boo to budgets!).

If you have your heart set on all day wedding photography coverage with a top wedding photographer, but your budget is tight, then you may have to compromise. Either choose a smaller hour package with your dream wedding photographer, or search for a more budget photographer (possibly a newer photographer building their portfolio). Obviously we recommend using caution if choosing a photographer based on cheap pricing, as unfortunately there are a lot of bad eggs out there and too many horror stories. Remember, the age old saying that you do usually get what you pay for. With weddings there are no “do-overs”!

If you have to choose, we always recommend choosing a quality & experience photographer for less hours. We think, having a professional capture some of your day is better than none at all.

Another idea is to rethink your budget and what you have allocated to wedding photography. Is there any jiggle room, or can you shuffle allocations between categories. Quite often there is a lot of wasted money when it comes to weddings and it’s important to focus your precious money on the things that matter most to you. In 10years time, will it matter if your cutlery was silver and not rose gold, will it matter if your cake was 1 less tier, did you really need those pyrotechnics etc….but believe us, in 10years time, you will you still appreciate beautiful wedding photos and thank yourself!


Both the estimated length of your ceremony and the proposed running order of your wedding reception will play a big part when determining the hours required by your photographer. A simple civil ceremony may be 20-30minutes, however a full service catholic church wedding can be over an hour in length. And if you are wanting to ensure your reception formalities are photographed, such as cake cutting, speeches and first dance, then the expected timings of these will heavily impact the finish time of your wedding photographer. So have a chat to your celebrant/priest as well as your venue coordinator to get a better idea of “normal” timings you can expect.

A church wedding ceremony is usually longer than an outdoor civil ceremony

Ask your venue coordinator for their common timeframes for reception formalities


Your wedding photographer’s hours don’t stop or pause during any downtime on your wedding day. And to be honest, the only significant “downtime” or when they won’t be shooting is during the travel time between locations.

So if your wedding ceremony is 30mins from your prep location and then the ceremony location is 30mins from your reception venue, straight away 1 hour of your photography coverage hours will be allocated to travel time.

So make sure you take into account travel time between wedding locations when working out how long you should hire your wedding photographer for.


Allow padding time! We can not stress this enough. Allow padding time at each stage of your wedding timeline. Whether it’s due to flowergirl dress dramas, guests running late, speeches going overtime, family members disappearing right at family portrait time….more often than not, something will happen to upset your perfectly planned timeline.

Your photographer will also have to ensure they arrive before start of ceremony. If you want them to say capture bride prep and are coming from the bride’s house, unlike the bride who can get dropped right at ceremony door and be ready to walk down aisle, your photographer will need to park, get gear to ceremony location, have a quick chat to celebrant/priest, capture some photos of details, guests & groom waiting, and then be ready for your arrival. Allow this pre-ceremony photographer time into your planned wedding schedule.

Also the simple truth is that on your wedding day, things just take longer! Often couples will say it’s only 10mins between ceremony and a bridal portrait location, which in our experience will often mean we will need to allow closer to 20-30mins. Besides trying to escape your beautiful guests wanting to continue to congratulate you, then trying to round up bridal party members, coordinate with transport drivers, jumping in and out a car isn’t always that easy (especially if bride is in a big gown), then after you get out of car (slowly so not to get dress caught), take a moment to do touch ups or veil straightening etc, and then don’t forget that walking in new heels can make everything a bit slower…suddenly the 10 minutes you estimated is now 30 minutes later!

Bottom line, don’t forget to allow padding time into your hour estimates.

Everything always seems to take longer than expected on your wedding day!

Our Wedding Photography Coverage Guide

To help you work out how many hours you may need your photographer for, to ensure all the wedding events you want are captured, we have put together a simple guide sheet. Although every wedding is different, this should help act as a starting point to fit most weddings. Hope it helps!

Don’t underestimate the need for dancing photos!!!

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