I read an excellent blog post by Pittsburgh wedding blog extraordinaire, Burgh Brides, titled “One Very Important Thing to Consider When Hiring a Wedding Photographer” not too long ago. As a wedding photographer myself, I was immediately curious as to what one thing could refer to. How could there be just one important thing to consider when hiring a wedding photographer?

What I love so much about this article is that in it, Victoria (Burgh Brides creator) talks about how important it is to know how much coverage you’re going to need on your wedding day, and therefore, how many hours you’ll need to book with your photographer, based on your preliminary timeline. It might seem like a far stretch to try and think through your timeline a year to two years before your wedding day actually happens, but having a general idea of when things will be happening will help you make a more educated decision when it comes to the number of hours you’ll actually need! Or, as Victoria puts it:

“When you’re just starting to plan your wedding, a certain number of hours of coverage may seem like enough. Later down the road though, when times are more finalized, you may quickly realize that the package you booked won’t allow for photos of some moments, like your hair and makeup being done or the last dance of the night.”

Thinking about the important points of the day ahead of time - the beginning of the day, the ceremony, and the end of the night - is so important! Below are a few questions I put together to help couples who might be unsure of how much coverage to book get the ball rolling on figuring out a preliminary timeline:

  • When will the ceremony take place, and how long will it be? This will be the starting point for figuring out how many hours of coverage before and after the ceremony you’ll need! You might need additional coverage if you’re having a longer ceremony (like a full Catholic mass) opposed to a quick 15 minute outdoor ceremony.

  • Do we want to have a “send off” at the end of the reception, and do we want it photographed?

  • Will we have a first look? You’ll need more time before the ceremony if you do!

  • …or will we opt to have our photos taken during cocktail hour? Make sure you leave enough time for photos during your cocktail hour if you opt to go this route!

  • Will we be traveling a lot on the wedding day? More time in the car = less time photo taking time, which means you might have to book additional coverage! For example, if you book 8 hours of coverage with your photographer, but the ride from your getting ready location to the ceremony is 30 minutes, then the ride from your ceremony to your reception is another 30 minutes, that’s a whole hour that your photographer will be driving and not taking photos. So you actually only have 7 hours of coverage, not 8, and might want to consider booking another hour (or two!).

  • What is most important to us when it comes to our wedding photos? Maybe it’s portraits of the two of you. Maybe it’s you and your girls getting ready. Maybe it’s your grandma dancing at your reception! Or maybe you really want to make sure you have epic detail photos of your dress, invitation suite, and rings. Know what’s important to you, and then ask your photographer how much time they think they’ll need to capture those important parts of your day! Here’s a sample timeline I made for my couples to help them figure out how much time to allot for each part of their day!

With all of that in mind, check out one of the best timeline graphics I have ever seen (thank you SRW Joyce)! This graphic lays out the typical events of the wedding day, along with an estimate to the left of the events of how much coverage you’ll typically need to capture those consecutive parts of the day.

Graphic representation thanks to  SRW Joyce

Graphic representation thanks to SRW Joyce

And if you’re looking for an estimate of what the majority of couples choose for their coverage, based on the weddings I’ve photographed, most couples choose packages with 8 to 10 hours of consecutive coverage. Most couples who choose 8 hours are not traveling between different locations on their wedding day. Couples who are traveling between different locations (getting ready to ceremony, or ceremony to reception, or ceremony to a photo location, or all of the above) almost always end up booking at least 9 to 10 hours of coverage!

If you’re a bride who’s unsure of how many hours of coverage you should book, or a bride thinks she might need a few extra hours of coverage, I’d be happy to help! Feel free to reach out to me directly at jhidingerphotography@gmail.com (or via the contact tab in the top navigation) for a second opinion!

A huge thanks to Victoria from Burgh Brides for writing such an epic article! 💛 If you’re a bride in the Pittsburgh area looking for wedding inspiration, I highly recommend checking out the Burgh Brides blog!

And until next time - happy planning!