6 hours of coverage? 12 hours of coverage? Full day? Half day? What does it all mean!
As you’ve probably noticed throughout your wedding planning process, photography package prices are often determined by hours of coverage. Many photographers do this to quantify their services. Less hours = less photos = less editing time later. Personally, I do not base my package prices around hours of coverage. Instead, all of my packages include full day wedding cover and I base my packages around add-ons included. What exactly is “full day” coverage? More on that later! No matter what photographer you choose, I want to make sure you have all the info you need to have a great experience. First, let’s break down hourly packages.
Things tend to take much longer on your wedding day than you anticipate. You’ll find articles online telling you it’ll take exactly two hours to get ready or the ceremony will only take thirty minutes. While in a perfect world, everything will move along according to schedule, sometimes real life happens.
When I was a bridesmaid in my bestie’s wedding a few years ago, she didn’t know whether to choose six, eight, or ten hours. She decided to play it safe and go in the middle with eight hours. If everything had gone exactly according to her pre-made schedule the eight hours would have been perfect. Then life happened. There was crazy traffic that morning making everyone late to the location where we were going to get ready. Then, the venue served dinner twenty minutes late. Now her wedding schedule was way off and started to freak out because her photographer was booked for eight hours. She had to cut the cake while her guests were still waiting to get their food and was barely able to get her first dance photographed. This is the risk when you book a photographer for a specific coverage time.
Okay, so sometimes things take longer than expected. But what is even feasible when it comes to the hourly coverage packages?
Six hours // This package is often the cheapest that photographers offer. If you’re planning on eloping or having a very small ceremony with immediate family only, this would be a good package for you! However, six hours isn’t super ideal for any other type of wedding. Usually, with only six hours of coverage there is no time for detail shots, getting ready photos, first looks, or a ton of reception coverage.
Eight hours // This is the sweet spot package. It seems like a lot of time, but it’s really not! Eight hour coverage could most likely cover details shots, getting ready photos, ceremony, post-ceremony portraits, and reception, but it leaves absolutely no room for error. As in my friend’s case above, if the dinner is served even twenty minutes late it could throw of your whole schedule and parts of your day will get missed.
Ten Hours // This is the safest bet. Ten hours of coverage is often a photographer’s most expensive package, but it leaves you the most wiggle room for error and leaves time for things like a first look.
As I mentioned up top, I do not base my packages around hourly coverage. Instead, every single one of my packages comes with full day coverage. What exactly does this mean? It means I typically arrive an hour before you plan to be getting into your dress so we can have a nice relaxing start to your day. I also stay about thirty minutes after the last “thing” on your wedding timeline. I do this for a few reasons.
Firstly, your wedding day is too important to be limited by a specific number of hours. Why add the stress of having a time constraint? Your wedding is one of the biggest days of your life. You’re taking a lifelong oath and starting your happily every after. I don’t think everything that goes into this memorable day should be meticulously itemized with a time limit.
Secondly, I want my brides to be happy and relaxed, not freaking about how many hours their photographer has left. I want you to feel carefree to savor the moment like the Bachelorette not like Chris Harrison with a little stage manager whispering in your ear during After the Final Rose!! You should be able to take that special moment with your flower girl or happy cry with your mom while she zips up your dress. All too often the specialness of these unplanned moments gets taken away from the bride because she’s panicking whether it will throw off her whole timeline.
Thirdly, I am so excited to photograph your big day. I’m talking like Leslie Knope meeting Joe Biden excited. While this is my career, this is not just a job. Personally, I don’t want myself to feel restricted by a packaged time limit. Your wedding is potentially the most memorable day of your life and I want to make sure you get every photo needed to gush over and remember it properly. If I’m constantly checking the clock and rushing you along to make sure I leave on time, then neither of us are going to have the great day we hoped for.
Hopefully, this short guide helped clarify how many hours you should book your wedding photographer for. If you have any more questions about my full day coverage packages, feel free to shoot me an email!
Best of luck to you during the wedding planning process!
Liv in the Moment Photography is a Detroit wedding and boudoir photographer
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