How to Determine Which Wedding Photography Coverage is Right for You

Pocket Watch No. 3 by Mischi3vo

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from clients is trying to help them determine the appropriate amount of wedding day photography coverage.

I recommend that if you can write down a mock schedule of the events of your wedding day (from the time your hair and make-up start till your exit from the reception) that it will help you greatly when it comes to determining your coverage.

When thinking about your wedding day, I implore you to ask yourself, “What things are important to me to be captured?” This question is different for every bride and groom. Some things to consider when it comes to coverage:

1. Is it important for you to have hair and make-up photographed?

2. Is it important for you to have photos of bridal/groom prep? (Bride and Groom getting dressed)

3. How long is your ceremony? Catholic weddings usually have longer services, sometimes as long as 1 hour and 15 minutes.

4. Are you having hair and makeup done at a different site than your ceremony? Take into consideration that things may run late/unexpected traffic conditions.

5. How large is your wedding party? Expect at least 1 hour for portraits after the ceremony.

6. Do you have to travel to a different site for your reception? Keep in mind that wedding coverage doesn’t start/stop/then start again between Point A and Point B. Wedding coverage is continuous.

7. How many traditional events will you be having at your reception? Dinner, toasts, first dance, father/daughter & mother/son dances, anniversary dance, bouquet and garter toss, & an exit to the car at the end of the night.

In my business I practice something called the 90-minute window. Per my contract, I am scheduled to show up 30 minutes prior to the ceremony. This allows me to check my lighting, take some ring shots, coordinate with my assistant, and if I can squeeze it in, some shots of the dress. Although I do ask my clients to find out if there are any photography restrictions prior to their ceremony (some churches do not allow flash) I have run into the situation where the priest/minister/rabbi wants to talk to me in regards to additional restrictions or preferred places where my assistant and I may stand. This is why I highly recommend scheduling me to show up at least one hour prior to the ceremony. After the ceremony, the last 60-minutes of my 90-minute window is implemented. I set aside one hour for formal portraits and more intimate private portraits with the bride and groom. I perform the family portraits first in case they need to move to another site for the reception & that they may enjoy cocktail hour.

Another way to shave off some time off your coverage is to group a lot of elements in the reception close to each other instead of spreading them throughout the night. These include dinner, toasts, first dance, mother/son, father/daughter dances, cake cutting, bouquet and garter toss. Some couples may have an elaborate or created exit from the reception that they may want covered. Please keep that in mind because it will probably increase your amount of coverage.

Although this breaks traditional, if you decide you want to take formal bride/groom portraits prior to the wedding or before the ceremony that is always an option.

Most photographers should allow you to add an additional hour or two prior to the day of the wedding a la carte. Please keep in mind that if you need to add additional coverage the day of, photographers may charge a higher rate and you will be invoiced for any additional hours after the wedding.

No bride wants to feel rushed on her wedding day. Trying to squeeze in too many things when not purchasing enough coverage can be a challenge. I can understand that some people may be on tight budgets, but the last thing you want to do on your wedding day is to cut corners and possibly missing out on some of the most important shots of your day.

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