Planning Your Wedding; Wedding Photography Coverage

Bride with lace sleeves and groom embrace after wedding ceremony taken by Philadelphia Wedding Photographer Matt Genders

If you were like me when I got engaged, I had absolutely no idea how many hours of coverage I would need on our wedding day. When planning wedding photography, very photographer we looked at sent over “hours of coverage” and various packages, but in reality we had no idea how many hours we would need or which was the best value. Our friends and family told us to book the photographer for the full day, with little to no idea what that would involve, or more importantly how much it would cost, and we had no idea how to make the most out of our time and utilize the photographer in the correct way.

In this article my goal is to remove some of the mystery behind wedding day schedules, and help you figure out how many hours of coverage you will actually need- hopefully helping you save some money along the way.

There are a few variables to consider when planning a timeline for wedding photography coverage. Location might be the most important, because if your getting ready space is 30 minutes from the ceremony space, which is 30 minutes away from the reception space, then that needs to be reflected in the schedule and timed out accordingly. If you plan to do portraits off-site you will also have to budget time for that as well.

Bride and groom posing in golden hour taken by Philadelphia Wedding Photographer Matt Genders Photography

Planning Wedding Day Timeline

Here is a typical wedding day schedule (all at one location):

1 Photographers Arrive

1-2:30 Getting ready photos + details

2:30 First Look

2:30-3:30 Bride + groom and bridal party portraits

3:30-4:00 Family Photos

4-4:30 Photograph Ceremony Details + Guests Arriving

4:30-5:00 Ceremony

5:00-6:00 Cocktail hour (if not doing a first look, portraits + family photos would occur during cocktail hour)

6:00 Reception

7:30-7:45 Golden Hour sunset portraits

9 Photography coverage ends

10pm Reception Ends

Many couples decide not to do a first look- that’s totally fine! If you decide to go that direction, just note that many of the portraits and family photos will occur during the cocktail hour. Most wedding days fall within the range of 7-9 hours of coverage. I don’t often stay all the way through a reception, but am sure to stay for introductions, speeches, first dances, cake cutting, and dancing. The last hour or so of the reception often doesn’t make the cut into the final wedding album (especially if your guests love to cut the rug!), so to me it is most important to prioritize the time at the beginning of the wedding day.

Bride in white dress holding white bouquet taken by Philadelphia Wedding Photographer Matt Genders Photography

Hope this helps! If you have any questions about your particular wedding day, send me an email and I would be more than happy to chat through it with you!