Struggling to decide which wedding photography package is best for you? While on the hunt for your wedding photographer, you may have noticed that most have multiple wedding photography packages to choose from that offer different amounts of wedding day coverage. While some packages are designed to fulfill only partial wedding coverage (typically ~6 hours), others aim to document your entire wedding day from start to finish (~10-12 hours).
Wedding photographers get booked up quicker than most vendors, so dwelling on your decision can come with a risk! But understandably when you’re this early on in the wedding planning process, you probably don’t have a firm grasp on your official wedding day timeline. In fact, you probably won’t until just a couple of months before the big day! So how in the actual heck are you even supposed to choose which photography package is right for you?
This article will address three of the most common coverage options you might encounter while photographer-hunting (6, 8, and 10+ hours), and provide a brief breakdown of their pros and cons!
- Partial wedding coverage (~6 hours)
- Full wedding coverage (~8 hours)
- All day coverage (~10-12 hours)
So… Which Wedding Photography Package?
Partial Wedding Coverage (~6 hours)
Ceremony, bride and groom portraits, bridal party photos, family formals, some reception
Partial coverage packages typically cover an average of 6 hours and are perfect for laid back lovers seeking the bare essentials. This coverage option is ideal if you value photos of the ceremony, details and decor, and fine art portraits above all else. Usually, some of the pre-wedding and of the core reception festivities (cake cutting, toasts, first dance) can be squeezed into that 6 hour period as well. However, I think it’s worth mentioning that from personal experience, about 80% of weddings I have photographed ran at least 15-30 minutes behind schedule.
With all those vendors and guests involved on such a busy day, unexpectedly time-consuming events can occur at any moment. For example, something as simple as a long buffet line can offset your schedule in a big way. Especially if there’s a second buffet line for cake, too! I know, right? Who’d’a thunk?
Backyard weddings, elopements, small weddings with 40 guests or less.
Getting ready photos, long receptions with multiple scheduled activities, candids for more than 40 guests
*Need more coverage on a budget? Here’s a solution:
If your wedding timeline in general is not of concern, but having more memories from the day is, consider buying into your photographer’s assistant/second shooter for additional pictures and coverage. A la carte costs can average around $300-$500 for a second photographer, but have the potential to yield hundreds more photos at a very reasonable price!
Stories told with this package: Grace + Sean’s Whimsical Dairyland Wedding
Full Wedding Coverage (~8 hours)
Some getting ready photos, first look, ceremony, bride and groom portraits, bridal party photos, family formals, reception photos, some party time documentation
Although 2 additional hours may not seem like much more, that seemingly small amount of time can cover everything from pre-wedding getting ready moments and a first look to all the important reception activities. If you want to be sure your first dance, bouquet toss, and at least some of the partying and dancing that occurs at the end of the night is captured, 8 hours very well might be the coverage option for you!
Even if you find yourself running a wee bit behind schedule, an 8 hour package will guarantee a solid cushion, allowing your photographer to be there to document each major event listed on your official wedding day timeline.
traditional wedding schedules, 40-80 guests
short, intimate wedding schedules; full day coverage (from getting ready to bride and groom exit)
Stories with this package: Audrey + Ryan’s Magical Orcas Island Wedding
All Day Coverage (~10-12 hours or more)
Pre-wedding activities (getting ready, intimate couple’s session, etc.), first look, ceremony, bride and groom portraits, bridal party photos, family formals, wedding reception, partying, plenty of photos of guests and a grand exit.
Are you hoping for that intimate couple session in the hotel room before you part ways to get ready? Maybe an offsite bride and groom shoot that requires a sunrise hike to a breathtaking lookout? Or perhaps you just have a gigantic family, a ton of friends and there’s a LOT of faces you want to remember. Full coverage packages include all the bells and whistles and are perfect for the couple that truly wants to create an heirloom!
A full day coverage package gives you the ability to not only tell the story of your wedding on the surface, but all the little stories that made up what the day was before and after it happened. Some photographers go all-inclusive with full coverage packages and include all sorts of great features like albums, prints, second photographers, and more. Ours even offers a photo booth! So needless to say, selecting this coverage option is a surefire way to make sure not a single aspect of the most important day of your life doesn’t have its time to shine in front of the camera.
Full day coverage (from getting ready to your grand exit), spread out schedules where coverage is needed on multiple days, after-party festivities, large weddings with 80 or more guests.
Shorter more intimate weddings, tighter schedules
Stories with this package: Tony + Ryan’s Urban Capitol Hill Wedding
Which wedding photography package you choose depends widely on the size (amount of guests) and amount of activities you plan to have documented on your wedding day. Although the difference between one package to the next may seem like a major leap in cost (and for only a few more hours of coverage at that) sometimes the additional time and the features that come with it can make all the difference.
“We have too many awesome pictures from our wedding day,” said no bride or groom ever. Of all things you could possibly regret when it comes to wedding investments, having your ideal photography coverage to document it all certainly won’t be it – I guarantee it! Decorations get torn down, the dress goes back on the hanger, and friends and family will all go home.
But the pictures will last for generations to come.
What’s that? You mean you’re interested in connecting with meee? Nuh uh! I’m so flattered!