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How long to book your wedding photographer for

Updated: Sep 1, 2022

When you're planning your wedding there's so many things to take into consideration, one of those is how long you want to book your photographer. The majority of photographer will have a number of packages available with different hours but what's the right package for you?

There's a number of things to consider when deciding how many hours you want to book your photographer, the structure of your timeline, your budget and what you want photos of are the most important.

Pro tip: If you've booked an all inclusive location for your wedding then you're going to save a lot of time not driving to different locations.

To help you decide how many hours works best for you I've broken done all the common packages photographers provide and who're they are best suited for.

Pro tip: When talking to my clients about how many hours they want covered I usually like to work backwards, decide whether you want your photographer to stay until your exit or just until your first dance/cake cut then work back from there.

1-2 Hours

This package is typically called an elopement package and generally consists of just the ceremony and a photo session afterwards. This is best for those after a small intimate ceremony or on a low budget.

Just because this is the smallest package doesn't make it the worst, some of my favourite wedding photos are from elopements. Having a smaller wedding means you can focus all your attention onto what you want so make the most out of it.

6 Hours

This package is typically suited to smaller intimate weddings, most 6 hour packages will typically go from the ceremony through to the cake cut/first dance. This is best suited for those who aren't interested in getting photos taken of them getting ready and just want to essentials covered.


  • 6 hours of coverage most likely means that there will not be much (or any) time for detail decor/design shots or photos of you getting ready

  • But, there will be coverage of all of the important moments (portraits, ceremony, family photos, first dance, cake cutting)

  • The end of the night comes early with just 6 hours of coverage so, most likely there will not be many photos of the reception once dancing starts

8 Hours

This package will fit all the essentials and a bit more, a typical 8 hour package will start with bride/groom prep and finish after the cake cut/first dance. If you aren't interested in getting dance-floor photos or don't have anything planned for your exit then this is usually the package for you.


Even though 8 hours seems like a lot of time, this works best for weddings where the ceremony and reception are at the same location. Since the additional 2 hours gives the photographer just enough time to take a few getting ready, detail, and dancing shots, you don’t want to waste 30 or 40 minutes on your photographer needing to pack up her/his gear and drive to (and set back up at) a second location

10 Hours

The 8 and 10 hour package are the most popular but the 10 hour package can typically capture the whole day from start to finish. 10 hours is my preferred package as you get the chance to capture everything and don't feel the rush.


  • If the wedding ceremony and reception are taking place in different locations, we recommend at least 10 hours of coverage. This gives the photographer enough time to travel to the second location and still get all of the shots

  • Planning a grand exit? Unless you're willing to give up coverage in the earlier hours, 10 hours is usually not enough to have a photographer there until the very end of the reception

12+ Hours

This package is best suited for the larger weddings (200+ guests), with 12 hours you'll have time for everything to be captured. I wouldn't recommend this for most weddings but if you have a larger bridal party and a lot of guests then it's something to consider. The more people means the more time it'll take to organise everyone (especially once they start drinking)


  • If you have a huge wedding party and family, we usually recommend 12 hours of coverage. Why? With everyone in “party mode” it means that it can be hard to get and keep people’s attention (not to mention the fact that it can be difficult to find and get the right people in the right place all at the right time!)

  • If you're super into design and/or have the budget to make all of those Pinterest inspiration ideas come to life, it would be a bummer if all of those design details didn’t get photographed. So, if you have the wedding signs, custom cocktails, and lounges that everybody dreams of, we definitely recommend 12 hours of coverage to make sure every design detail gets the attention it deserves!

Don’t Forget

Knowing what photos you would like captured is one thing, but thinking about the logistics of your wedding day and how you want it to unfold is another. Some other questions to ask yourself should be regarding location: will you be getting ready in the same place as the ceremony? Will your ceremony and your reception be at the same location? If not, what about time for travelling from location to location?

The biggest question to think about is: how many hours is your wedding? It may not seem like it, but the six-hour photo coverage is not very long. The six-hour coverage is better if you don't want the extra shots of small details or if your ceremony and reception are in the same location. With two extra hours, eight hours is a great option for those who want pictures of their dress, jewellery, shoes, and most of the fun at their reception. If you want to go all out, want to have tons of pictures of every possible moment, then ten hours are highly recommended.

Essentially, your photographer should be able to help you determine which package is right for you. That is why it is extremely important to hire an experienced photographer. As a wedding photographer, it is my job to listen to my couples and understand their importance.

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