Booking your wedding photographer and videographer are often among the first tasks engaged couples complete which is smart – these vendors often book up a year in advance so you want to be sure you find someone you love! But how do you know how many hours should you book them for?
First, let me point out one common misconception. The number of hours in the package is NOT equal to shooting hours. The clock starts ticking as soon as the vendor arrives at the first shooting location (typically where the bride or groom is getting ready) and runs continuously from that point on. So the more locations you have on your wedding day, and further the travel time between the different locations, the more time is going to be eaten out of those hours. That’s something to think about when you’re planning to book ceremony and reception venues that are 45 minutes apart (and then decide to get ready in a completely different location on top of that). Just something to keep in mind.
So how many hours should you book? Personally, I feel that 8 hours is sufficient for a typical wedding day that includes some getting ready photos, 2-3 hours of wedding party and family photos, 30 minute ceremony, and 4-5 hour reception in which all locations are within reasonable distances from each other (10-20 minutes). In this case the photographers and videographers typically won’t stay for the full reception, instead they will only stay until the cake has been cut (or for the bouquet and garter toss as long as they aren’t scheduled too late in the evening) so they will actually only shoot about 2-3 hours of the reception. If you aren’t planning on a grand exit, aim for 8 hours and you should be fine.
Now if you are planning on a grand exit from the reception and want photos and video of it, plan on 9-10 hours of coverage time! Same goes for if there will be a lot of travel time between locations on the wedding day. That may seem like a lot, but you’d be amazed at how quickly the time flies and how long a wedding day truly lasts. To give some perspective, my team and I begin our wedding days by checking in on the bride and/or groom while they are getting ready (so we get there about 30-60 minutes before the photographers and videographers do) and then stay until tear down is complete at the end of the reception, and that usually amounts to about a 13-14 hour day.
Now you might be wondering about those 5-6 hour packages that some vendors offer, what are those for? Really I would only say that 5-6 hours of coverage is enough on a wedding day if you have a smaller, more intimate wedding in which the ceremony, reception, and getting ready locations are all at the same venue and you’re fine with having a shorter reception (or don’t need the vendors to stay for more than half of it). There are some couples for which this type of package is fine, but the majority of couples I work with really need to plan on more hours.