How many hours should you book your wedding photographer for?

How many hours should you book a Phoenix Wedding Photographer for?


First and foremost…Congratulations! Now, in the midst of the excitement, happiness, and anticipation you’re suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling of stress because you have to plan a wedding. There is so much to do, and all you really want to do is just marry the love of your life and begin your happily ever after.  Once you have set booked your wedding venue and set your wedding date the next set is normally getting the rest of your wedding vendors booked. Most vendors like myself will always ask, ” How many hours of coverage you will need for your wedding day.” Normally, most brides and grooms to be also say, “We don’t know. We just want some pictures of us before the ceremony getting ready, the ceremony, the reception and family pictures. So, I’m getting just a couple hours.” Well, if you want all of that you will need for your wedding photographer to be there for more than a couple of hours…two hours in my book.

When you’re in thick of wedding planning, you’re sure to come across so many questions you never knew to ask. From figuring out what flowers are in season to knowing how much to budget, you’re suddenly expected to become an expert on all-things events. Today, then, we wanted to offer up a resource to refer to when you inevitably find yourself asking, “Wait…how many hours do we need to book our photographer for?”


The Phoenix Wedding Photography Breakdown


*Wedding Preparations

The Bride’s Coverage is also commonly referred to as the “Getting Ready” shots of the bride before the wedding ceremony. I love doing the Bride’s Coverage because I get to capture candid moments of the bride with her bridesmaids and her family. Other things I usually shoot around this time are:

– Detail shots of the wedding gown, the floral bouquet, shoes, and accessories that the bride will wear.

– Portraits of the bride alone.

– Portraits of the bride with her bridesmaids.

– Portraits of the bride and her family.


Similar to the bride’s coverage, the Groom’s Coverage entails photos of the groom getting ready with his groomsmen before the ceremony. I prefer shooting a wedding with the groom’s coverage included as it tells a complete story of your day. During the groom’s coverage, I would shoot:

– Candid’s of the groom and his groomsmen as they get ready.

– Detail shots of the boutonnieres, cuff links, watch, etc.

– Portraits of the groom alone.

– Portraits of the groom and his groomsmen.

– Portraits of the groom and his family.

*Recommended amount of time: 2 hours


*Wedding Preparations

The amount of time you need depends on how long your service is going to be. The average time I’ve found over the years have been 15 to 20 minutes, though I’ve done ceremonies as long as 45 minutes.


*Wedding Portraits

Portraits are divided into two types — Family, Formals and Wedding Portraits

A.) Family Formals

The amount of time you’ll need depends on how many groupings you have planned to take. Usually, it takes 3-5 minutes to take a photo of one group. For family formals with 10 groupings, it can take as little as 30 minutes if your families are organized, 50 minutes otherwise.

B.) Wedding Portraits

This time is allotted for the portraits of you and your wedding party, and of just the bride and groom alone. I recommend having these photos done away from the guests – just so you don’t get stopped during the process – so we may have to include traveling to another location to get this done. Keep in mind that creative portraits cannot be rushed. As much as we, as photographers, would want to turn on our creativity with the blink of an eye, we do need time to really get the creative juices going. Professional photographers can do the safe shots with their eyes closed but if you really want portraits worthy of becoming pieces of art, the right amount of time is required.


*Recommended amount of time: 1 to 2 hours including possible travel in between locations.


*Wedding Reception

The number of hours you need here depends on how much you want covered. If you only want the first hour of reception covered, you’ll be able to get the wedding party introduced and the first dance photographed. Maybe do a pretend cake cutting if you like. But if you choose coverage up to 10 pm or over, I will usually be able to capture the entrance, emotional speeches, the first dance, and the first part of the dance party.

So let’s say you have one wedding photographer, your wedding ceremony is at 4pm, and you want both the bride and groom’s (or bride/bride, groom/groom) coverage. This is how I would recommend your schedule to look like, giving enough time for your wedding photographer to do their job. This would also allow for some leeway in case something goes awry to derail the schedule and you’ll still be on time for your wedding dinner to start as planned.


*Sample Wedding Photography time coverage

12:00 pm – Groom’s Coverage/Bride’s Coverage preparations

2:00 pm – Wedding Ceremony

3:00 pm – Portraits

5:00 pm – Dinner

9:45 pm – Sparklers Exit

10:00 pm – Reception Coverage ends.


Total Wedding Photography coverage: 10 hours


So how many hours for your wedding do you need wedding photography coverage? For most weddings it is 8 hours. The majority of weddings and receptions last about 6 hours, and you’ll want 2 hours before the ceremony to take photos of you getting ready, or photographs of you and your immediate family and bridal party. The end truth is it depends on how long you would like your wedding day to last from beginning to end.

The technical answer: Count back from the time of your send-off to 2-3 hours before your ceremony. Depending on your schedule, this will be the total amount of minimum hours needed for your wedding photography coverage.

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