How many hours of wedding photography coverage do I need?
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You are engaged! Congratulations! You have prepared your wedding budget! Well done on ticking another important box in the wedding planning process! Now many questions start to pop up: how long should I book a wedding photographer? Great question, let us share some perspectives based on our experience as professional wedding photographers.

We are assuming that you have already decided on whom you will entrust with capturing your special moments. Hopefully, being IdoLife Photography 😊, they have confirmed availability for your chosen wedding date. All that is left, is deciding how many hours of photographic coverage you will need on your big day.

So here is the harsh reality … your wedding day starts early and ends late… that is just how it is. There are two questions you need to consider, which are critical to set yourself up for a wonderful, relaxed, and luxurious wedding photography experience. Getting these questions right will set you up for receiving stunning images:

  • Which parts of your wedding day do you want to be captured?
  • How relaxed and stress-free (luxurious) do you want your wedding day to be?

What parts of my wedding should I have images of?

At IdoLife Photography we believe in providing a luxurious wedding photography experience for our IdoLife couples. And yes, time is a luxury! We also shoot for visual storytelling and therefore prefer to start early and finish late.  This presents us with the opportunity to capture all your important moments and ultimately provide you with a beautiful final product of your momentous day.

With that as background, let’s quickly run through your typical wedding day.

Generally, the bride and bridesmaids start getting ready four to five hours before the wedding ceremony. So, assuming your ceremony starts at 3pm (and on time 😉), you will be getting ready at about 10am.

A typical ceremony, followed by the signing of the register, confetti toss, and congratulatory hugs and kisses will last for approximately 90-minutes.

This is followed by group and family photos and photos of your wedding party. This part of the wedding day takes way longer than you might think and often is the cause for your well-thought-through timeline going a little bit off track. Again 90-minutes will allow for a relaxed atmosphere for these magical moments with your family and friends. A number of these images will end up on walls and in your precious wedding album, so make sure to allocate sufficient time to capture these once-off amazing memories.

Then it is time for the all-important newlywed portrait session! We always recommend allocating at least an hour for these.  Our photography style does not allow for just “snapping” hundreds of images in a few minutes. We strive to control the light and deliver amazing images which do take a few seconds to get set up. Of course, we do capture lots of candid images in between, but nothing beats those stunning editorial images. This is such a critical part of your day and you do not want to be rushed during this special time. If this is rushed, it may well show on your images… and we don’t want that!

Fast forward and some basic maths get you to 7pm and reception time! This typically includes formalities such as speeches, first dance, father and daughter dance, garter toss, bouquet toss, and cutting of the cake. Remember to keep in mind that in between these “formalities,” there is a lovely three to five-course meal to enjoy 😊. If carefully planned, this can be done in 2-hours. Then it is full-on party time with dancing etc. that can go on for hours. 

When should my wedding photographers arrive and how late do they leave?

Couples always want beautiful images of all their details and décor along with precious images of them getting ready with their bridesmaids and groomsmen. Most brides also request some beautiful portraits of the bride and that special moment when the father of the bride sees her in all her glory for the first time. We, therefore, recommend having your photographers start their photographic coverage at least 2-hours before the ceremony.

Therefore, given all the above general guidelines and assumptions, we suggest your photographers should be starting at 1pm and finish at 9pm which brings you to 8-hours of photographic coverage. For this reason, our standard IdoLife package covers 8-hours of your special day.

How can I ensure my wedding day is relaxed and stress-free?

It is important to note that the above general guidance assumes meticulous planning, everyone being on time and nothing out of the ordinary happening on the day with everyone and everything staying on script. Put differently, with detailed planning, 8-hours of photographic coverage can be more than sufficient time if most of the day goes according to plan. We are involved right from the moment you book us as your wedding photographers and provide you with tons of guidance and continuous discussions on all things wedding related. Rest assured; you are in good hands!

In line with our brand promise of a luxurious wedding photography experience, we want our IdoLife couples to experience a stress-free and relaxed wedding day. That is why we also offer our amazing IdoLife couples the option to opt for our Luxe wedding package which provides them with 10-hours of photographic coverage along with numerous add-ons such as three photographers (think three angles!!), a hard-copy luxurious wedding album of your stunning high-end wedding and a complimentary 90-minute engagement shoot.

Having your photographers by your side for the additional 2-hours (which regularly gets increased to an additional 4-hours 😊) allows us to capture the precious time you will be spending with your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Think champagne toasts before getting into your wedding dress. It also provides sufficient time to capture the dance floor action and some stunning evening portraits. Most importantly, it provides ample time, should you run behind schedule (which does tend to happen), to capture all your special moments, as your wedding timeline will be more flexible and open to “spur of the moment” adjustments.

Will 8 hours, therefore, be sufficient?

Preparing a well-planned and thought-through timeline with the assistance of your wedding day photographers should allow for 8-hours of photographic coverage to be sufficient. However, should you wish to have the luxury of a stress-free day with the peace of mind that all our special moments will be captured, adding some additional hours to your wedding day is an investment you will never regret.

We trust that the information will guide you in making the right decision for your wedding day. As we always say, there is no “right” way to do things… the best way is what meets your expectations and budget. Just remember… The cake gets eaten, and the flowers will dry out, but the photos will last forever… 

May the joy be with you!

Christo and Wandi

Click here to book IdoLife Photography for your wedding.

Click here for more information about our wedding process.