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How Many Hours of Photography Do You Really Need on Your Wedding Day?

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When it comes to booking with a wedding photographer, one of the biggest questions I get from my couples during our initial call is "How many hours of photography do we really need?" Because, let's face it - even if your wedding day itself is 13 hours long, you probably don't need your photographer to be there for the full 13. I'm very candid with my couples and always want you to get the best package/collection for you. Would I love it if you booked my biggest collection so I have an excuse to hang out with you all day? Of course! But I also want to be someone you can trust to give true insight, not just a biased opinion based on pricing alone.

So I thought I could break down my 3 wedding collections (8 hours, 6 hours, and 4 hours of coverage), as well as give you a better understanding of how many hours of wedding day coverage is really needed for your day.

8 Hours of Coverage:

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This is my most popular collection and for good reason. It comes with a second photographer, a complementary engagement shoot, and 35mm and Polaroid film (among tons of other goodies!)

If you're wanting the getting ready photos for both of you, a first look with either each other or a parent, lots of family photos, first dances, cake cutting, speeches, a dance party, and a send-off, this is the amount of time you would want to have your photographer there on your wedding day. This gives us enough time to give you all the photos you want, without you feeling rushed. It lets you be present and in the moment - which to me is the most important thing for you to have on your wedding day. So whether you have a jam-packed day full of fun with all your family and friends, or you're eloping just the two of you and you have a whole day planned that you'd like your photographer to document, an 8 hour collection might be your best choice. Let's take a look at an sample timeline that I made for one of my previous couples (which is included in all of my collections ;)

Tennessee documentary wedding photographer wedding timeline

6 Hours of Coverage:

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This is a great "middle ground" collection of mine. It still comes with some of the goodies mentioned in the 8 hour collection, and is great for you if you have something a little more intimate planned for your big day, but still want lots of photos for you to remember it by!

If you don't have a first look planned, (or just have a short one planned with a parent) you've opted out of having a cocktail hour, or you don't plan on doing a lot of dancing after your initial first dances, a six hour collection should be plenty of time for you! We'll still get all those amazing candid shots you love so much, but without having your schedule as "busy" as the 8 hour collection, this will still allow you to be present and breathe on your day without feeling like you're being pulled in 5 different directions. Take a look at a sample timeline for 6 hours.

Tennessee documentary wedding photographer wedding timeline

4 Hours of Coverage:

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My 4 hour collection is a great option if you're only planning a short ceremony and dinner with >35 of your closest family and friends or you're trying to stick within a certain budget. This collection is also a favorite for my couples who are eloping that may not be too keen on the idea of having 8 hours of photos of just the two of them, and that's okey! Ricky and I had 2 hours of coverage for our elopement, and it was more than enough time for him :D . So if your photos are still important for you on your big day, but you don't have a lot of time scheduled, or you just love the idea of having a few photos to remember the day by and then going off and doing your own thing - a 4 hour collection is a great choice for you! Let's take a look at a sample timeline for 4 hours.

Tennessee documentary wedding photographer wedding timeline

Extra Tips:

  • As a general rule, the amount of photography coverage you'll need for your day will most likely be around 3-4 hours less than the amount of time you'll be at your venue for. So if you're at your venue for 11-12 hours, then you'd want around 8 hours of coverage, 9-10 hours at your venue you'd want around 6 hours of coverage, and so on and so on.

  • Always give yourself at least a 1 hour cushion in your timeline. The last thing you want is to cram all the fun things you have planned into a collection that can't fit it all. Most photographers have add-ons for more hours, so even one hour extra of coverage from a 6 hour collection to a 7 hour collection can make a huge difference.

  • Don't be afraid to ask your photographer before you book for their opinion on how many hours you should book and why.

Still on the Lookout for a Wedding Photographer?

If you're planning your own elopement or wedding in Tennessee (or wherever) and haven't found your dream photographer yet, simply fill out my contact form and we can hop on a call to go over all your questions and your vision for your day! Then, we can start the planning process together so we can create an amazing day filled with laughter, love, and ALL the adventure we can!



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