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How Much Wedding Coverage Do I Really Need? | Wedding Day Timeline Breakdown and Insights

Your wedding day timeline sets the flow of the day, and you may be wondering how much time you should allot for each portion of events, so today, we’re breaking down an eight-hour timeline.

It’s always better to have your coverage begin earlier in the day and then have the reception highlights (special dances, toasts, and cake cutting) closer to the start of the night so I’m still able to capture all of those beautiful moments. If your coverage ends and you’re planning to continue dancing the night away, consider having a mock exit so you’ll have the professional photos to remember it by!

Wedding Day Timeline Breakdown:

  • 1 hr. for details 
  • 1-2 hrs. getting ready
  • 30 min. first look + couples portraits
  • 20 min. wedding party portraits
  • 30 min. family formal portraits (dependant upon the size of the list, but we can also grab candids during the reception)
  • 30 min. ceremony (the ceremony length can vary greatly depending on cultural traditions or religion)
  • 1 hr. signing marriage license/cocktail hour/reception details
  • 3 hrs. reception coverage (this includes stealing away for sunset photos!)

This breaks down into roughly 8 hours but for me, the ideal time frame for photos is 9 hours. 9 hours is the perfect amount of time to dedicate a solid portion to details and getting ready, a first look, portraits, any travel time, and the highlights of the reception. If you do not plan on doing a first look, then 8 hours would probably be best.

You may see professionals that offer 10 hours of coverage or more. 10 hours is ideal for weddings that are early in the day (2 pm), a full catholic ceremony, or have travel involved of 20 minutes or more. If these scenarios don’t apply to you but you want to makes sure you don’t miss a moment and it is in your budget, then choose the 10 hour package! There is no right or wrong answer on whether or not to choose 8, 9, 10 or all day coverage-use your budget and timeline to guide you to the best decision for you. Keep reading to see more highlights and details about your wedding day coverage.

Detail Photos –
I know you put so much thought into every element you include in your big day, so I love taking the time to preserve all of those lovely details. Make sure you have everything you want your photographer to photographer ready to go when he/she arrives. Check out this post on how to prep for the prettiest photos!

Bonus tip: send your photographer an invitation suite in the mail so they can photograph that detail at home and have more time during the day for other details.

Getting Ready –
Once hair and makeup are complete, we’ll grab some photos of you with your gals in your matching robes or PJ’s and pop some champagne because you’re getting married! Then it’s the big moment of getting into your dress and having a first look with your bridesmaids and dad.

We’ll capture candids of the guys enjoying the day and helping each other get ready. I’ll direct the groom to the best possible spot to get those ad-worthy photos of him putting on his jacket, tie, shoes, and finishing touches.

First Look –

It’s time to see each other and take a second to be present and remember what the day is all about  marrying the love of your life! First looks can impact your timeline, especially if you do not do one. Depending on what time of year or day your wedding is, a first look can be vital to a smooth flowing timeline. Be sure to check in with your photographer or wedding planner regarding these details. Read all about first looks here.

Wedding Party Portraits –
We’ll take some classic and fun shots of each of you with your group of best friends and, of course, everyone together! We’ll also take an individual with each of you and every person in your party.

Family Formals –
Your parents are definitely going to want to print these and display them on their walls! I usually tell clients that plan on 1-2 minutes for every family photo combination you list out. So if you have a list of 30 different family photo combinations you want it could take about 45 minutes to complete.

Ceremony –
This is the moment you two have been awaiting for months! Savor every single second and feel all of the love from everyone who came to celebrate your marriage! I’ll be there capturing all the feels so you can relive that moment again and again!

Cocktail Hour/Reception Details –
The atmosphere, the delicious hors d’oeuvre, and the mingling of friends as they take in the gorgeous venue and wedding decor. This is when having a second shooter is helpful-they can be grabbing candids and details while we finish up family formals or portraits without getting behind on the timeline.

Reception –
It’s time to party and celebrate! Between the special dances and toasts, there’s a chance there might be some happy tears, and there might be some cheers and laughter on the dance floor.
It’s going to be one of the best days of your life, so have an unforgettable night surrounded by your loved ones. Longer wedding coverage will allow for more wild dancing photos, but if that isn’t of value to you, you can plan on having shorter reception coverage.

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