Wedding Photography Coverage Guide

Wedding Photography Coverage

So as you’re shopping for a wedding photographer, one of the questions you will come across is “How many hours of coverage would you like?”.  Well, good question but how in the world are you supposed to know about wedding photography coverage?  It’s not like you plan a wedding every week.  To that end, I hope you find the following helpful.

Sharing My Expertise for Planning Your Best Wedding Coverage

Allow me to share with you my in-depth knowledge of weddings and their timing to help you plan your coverage.  All professionals involved in the wedding should be doing the same.  It is up to us to share our vast experience to make your day go smoothly.

In the scheme of planning a wedding, there are a few things that typically happen right away.  First, you tell your friends and family that you’re engaged and they all rejoice with you at the happy news!  Then you discuss dates.  Oh boy!  Spring  – Summer – Winter – Fall.  This year or next?

bride and groom holding hands

Wedding and engagment photographer, Grand Haven, Mi

Once you narrow that down you go about deciding where. You may have a range of dates in mind and the availability of the venue usually narrows that down to one or two choice dates.   Often times shortly after you’ve secured your venue is usually when couples scope out photographers.  Because we tend to book so far in advance, it is a good idea to get the date secured as soon as you possibly can.  However, before you can sign with your photographer, you need to consider how much wedding coverage you will need.

Something WILL go “Wrong”

Another thing to consider is that while you may have a perfect plan, usually one or two things don’t go according to plan. It has been said that weddings are 80% planned, 10% oops and 10% delightful surprise.  Grandma Tess gets lost finding the church and is late for the pre-wedding formals.  The flowers are late…or the wrong color (as happened this last Saturday).  The salon you booked for hair and makeup has two make up artists for 7 gals making you 90 minutes late to arrive at the venue.  The groom steps ever so slightly on the bustled train and breaks one of the loops holding up the train and a repair needs to be done.  Each wedding has their one snag, maybe even two or three.  Don’t worry!  It becomes part of your story and you will tell it for years to come…and with a smile on your face.  Because no matter what didn’t go according to plan, you still ended up married and in love.

How Much Time?

Let’s look at a typical timeline to get a feel for it.  This will give you an idea of what you will need.  When we meet I will help you make a specific plan based on your day’s exact requirements.  You will see several times that include photographer set up.  While I will be on the move and moving quickly, it still takes time to get the gear out of the car, into the building and set up ready to go.  Each different shooting scenario will require a few moments of adjustments.  You likely won’t even notice as my goal is to allow the day to flow seamlessly, but the time is used just the same.  Also bear in mind that your wedding involves multiple people.  It may seem like a lot of time is earmarked for formals, but crowds just don’t move fast.  There is a lot of talking and chatting going on and that is great!  People are enjoying your day with you…they are happily in a bit of a party mood even before the reception begins! But again, it takes time.

beautiful cheesecake for wedding

Cheesecake wedding cake Saugatuck mi Wedding and engagement photographer, Grand Haven, Mi

One Wedding Scenario:

Getting Ready- Bride & Groom at 1 location

  • Photographer arrives
  • 30 minute groom getting ready
  • 60 minute bride getting ready
  • Already at nearly 1 1/2 hours!

Ceremony – New location

  • 20 minutes travel
  • 20 minutes of guests arriving for ceremony (at this point the wedding party is usually out of sight)
  • 60 minutes for ceremony – have yet to see a wedding start right on time so even if it’s a shorter ceremony, the time is spent. By the time you get the last guest seated and everyone in their proper location, your 3:00 p.m. start time is now 3:20.
  • 20 minutes of receiving line – whether or not you have a receiving line, this time is still used as the guests mill around and chat right after the ceremony.  It’s a time where all your nerves are gone and you finally begin to relax so you won’t mind at all.
  • Likely over 2 more hours – 3 1/2 hours total

Family Pictures – Same Location as Ceremony

  • 15 minutes to get the message to all the people involved that we are now going to be taking family photos and for them to say goodbye to other family and friends who are heading over to the reception (I set up for family photos while this is happening)
  • 60 minutes for family photos – It typically takes 5-7 minutes per grouping so if your list is long this time may be expanded.
  • 15 minutes to pack equipment back up and load into car
  • Another 1 1/2  hours – 5 hours total

Bride and Groom Photos – New location

  • 20 minutes travel to new location
  • 10 minutes waiting for bride and groom to arrive as they had a hard time breaking away from all the loved ones who are still giving them hugs of congratulations (again, I am setting up during this time).
  • 45 minutes for photos – no one moves fast or efficiently in heels or tuxes!
  • 15 minutes to pack up and get back in vehicle
  • Additional 1 1/2 hours – 6.5  hours total

Grand Haven Wedding Photographer (2 of 9)Reception – final location

  • 20 minutes travel to reception location (notice we haven’t even accounted for traffic!)
  • 3 1/2 hours reception coverage
  • final 3 hours  for a grand total of 10  hours and we didn’t even account for bathroom breaks for the two of you!

Additional time

This is one scenario and serves as a good example of how time flies when you are having fun!  Night time photos are fun for the bride and groom and can be accomplished once the reception party is rolling and your guests are good for a minute or two without you.  Then I will whisk you away for a few moments of catching intimate moments between the two of you.

Final Thoughts

This just gives you an idea on how to plan coverage for your wedding.  Each wedding is as unique as the couples who are getting married. Perhaps your reception is planned for longer.  Perhaps the bride and groom are getting ready at different locales, etc.  The variables are endless.    Contact me to request a meeting to plan out a timeline and quote specific to your day’s exact requirements.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to helping you plan your special day!

Brenda Hoffman






Be confident that your memories will be captured perfectly


Fine Art Wedding Photography

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