Navigating the endless sea of options for wedding vendors is tricky enough, but factoring in the individual collections with varying hours of coverage, deliverables and working relationship can quickly make couples feel overwhelmed about knowing which wedding photography package to book based on their own unique story, relationship, destination and event. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that finding the right partner to create these visual heirlooms that will forever encapsulate the events and emotions of the day is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the planning process.
Today, we wanted to provide a bit more background on what you’re actually looking for in the different wedding photography packages out there, and how to know what’s best for you. Like most things in life, one size doesn’t fit all!
Wedding Photography Coverage
While some photographers operate on a fully bespoke basis, creating a custom package for each couple they work with, most photographers will offer a few different collections for couples to choose from. These collections primarily differ by the number of hours you choose to have covered, either by one lead photographer or the photographer and a 2nd shooter/additional assistants (which will be determined by the scope of work).
While every couple’s wedding day timeline will look a little different, the standard length of time for the main events (Ceremony, Cocktail Hour and Reception) is going to be between 5-6 hours. With this in mind, the most common photography packages we see offer the following bundles of hourly coverage.
8 Hours – This coverage might work for you if your ceremony and reception are happening in the same place, you have a smaller guest count and you’d like the most important moments captured, but aren’t as concerned about capturing the details and design. Most couples are able to have their photographer capture the final hair + makeup touch-ups/getting dressed photos all the way up to the start of the dance party following dinner with this kind of package. Keep in mind, this may not allow enough time for your photographer to shoot lots of detail shots (without guests), including those beautifully styled flatlays of your fashion, accessories, welcome bags, invitation suites and other day of stationery pieces you might be hoping to have captured.
10 Hours – Perhaps the most common number of hours booked, a 10-hour photography package leaves a bit more wiggle room for important detail shots as mentioned above, as well as family + bridal party portraits. This is also an ideal scenario if you’re having a First Look or if your ceremony and reception are happening in different locations. That’s because travel time is often included in the number of hours you book. The clock starts running when the photographer arrives, so if there’s lots of drive time during the day, that will count towards your photographer’s hours because they’re technically on the job. During the reception, your photographer will likely stay for a bit more dance floor time, but not until the very end where there’s a Grand Exit or anything (unless you skip pre-wedding photos). Let’s just say that things can get sweaty after a while, so it’s typically a-okay for the photographer to leave before it gets to that stage in the night.
12 Hours – If your wedding is very design heavy, consider this kind of package as more details naturally require more time to shoot. Same goes for larger guest counts, bridal parties, family members you’d like captured. Fun fact – you can anticipate each portrait (whether it’s Couple + Parents or Bride + Bridesmaids or Groom + Best Man) to take about 2.5 minutes. Wedding days are fun (as they should be!), so wrangling people for portraits and then staging them for the shot will always take longer than you think. If you have an epic Grand Exit planned and you don’t want that to be missed in the photos, see if this number of hours works with the photographer being on-site and if not, talk to them about additional hours of coverage a la carte.
Following the pandemic, we’re seeing an increase in packages specifically for intimate weddings and elopements since these approaches to the day’s celebrations don’t always follow the traditional structure of a ceremony, followed by cocktail hour, dinner and dancing. So you may find shorter packages available to suit your needs! Typically 6 hours is a good number to capture it all, but be sure to consider your own unique timeline before booking.
Photography Deliverables After The Wedding
There are a few different ways wedding photographers deliver images once they’ve filtered and edited the best of the best for you. Some collections offer only one of the below, while others might include a combination.
Digital Files – Presented either as an online gallery or USB (sometimes both), different photographers will include a number of final, edited images in a full gallery that you can access and download anytime and share with loved ones to view. Keep in mind that an expiration date may apply. Talk to potential photographers about how and when they deliver images following the wedding, and who retains the rights for printing both now and later.
Prints – Physical copies of a handful of your wedding photos, printed on premium, chemically-sensitized paper in either a matte or glossy finish. Ask your photographer if they ultimately choose the images for the prints, or if you can collaborate with them on the selection, and discuss size, finish and border preferences as well!
Photo Books & Albums – Similar to prints, albums are composed of a selection of images from your wedding gallery, formatted in a high quality photo book or album for you to display in your home. It’s a beautiful way to look back at the highlights of your wedding day in the years to come and share stories with your guests when they visit.
Travel & Accommodations For Your Wedding Photographer
Another consideration for the wedding photography package might be travel. Typically, a destination wedding is anything over 2 hrs travel time away from the vendor’s home/studio, which will likely be outlined in their contract, so additional fees may apply for anything outside of this radius. Some photographers already include travel costs in their pricing, while others will determine an amount to charge on an event by event basis. Depending on the package you book, they may need to stay more than one night, especially if you book them for auxiliary events such as a Welcome BBQ, Rehearsal Dinner or Send-Off Brunch. So anticipate these costs as you’re considering the overall package you book as well!
If you’re working with a wedding planner, they can help guide you through this process and advise you on what questions to ask potential photographers. Typically, this will be the first vendor you’ll want to book once you have your venue and planner secured, but considering the wedding boom happening in 2022 (over 5 million weddings projected as of right now!), you’ll want to start the vetting process sooner rather than later since availability is limited – especially if you have a handful of people you’ve been dreaming of hiring for a while!
Start the search for your wedding photographer here, and be sure to consider everything from your wedding day timeline and guest count to venue locations and design details as you determine the wedding photography package to book!
Cover image by Forged in the North