editorial Wedding Photography

The Wednesday Blog

How Many Photography Hours do You Need for Your Wedding?

First look image of a couple in NYC. Editorial wedding photo by Jenny Fu Studio

Now that you have found the best wedding photographer to document your wedding day, this question pops into your mind: How many hours of wedding photography do we need? You might be clueless as this is probably the first time you’re planning a wedding. Many factors go into a wedding day, and the more prepared you are, the less stress you will feel at your wedding. As a wedding photographer, my job is to help you determine how many hours of photography you will need. Here are some essential things to consider:

A bunch of paper bags filled with wedding favors on top of a wooden table at NYC. Hours of wedding photography image by Jenny Fu Studio
Wedding shoes, engagement ring and wedding bands for a wedding in NYC. Editorial wedding image by Jenny Fu Studio.

Wedding Size

Some couples prefer an intimate affair with only about 50 guests or less; others want an average (less than 150 guests) or a grand celebration (more than 150 guests). A traditional wedding usually needs about five(intimate weddings) to fifteen hours (sometimes more!) coverage. It’s best to know the number of guests you’re planning to invite before determining the hours of wedding photography you need. The larger the crowd, the more people you’ll need to manage. Thus, it will take time to document.

The bride's getting-ready photo at NYC. Hours of wedding photography image by Jenny Fu Studio.

Getting Ready Images

If you want to capture images of your make-up being applied and your wedding dress zipped up, you have to allocate about two hours for this shoot alone. This might include pictures of your wedding dress and accessories, your bridesmaids in their matching getting-ready robes, a huddle-up photo of you and your girls, a love letter exchange, your groom’s getting ready, and a whole lot of other details you might want to capture.

First look image by Jenny Fu Studio. Editorial wedding photography at NYC.

First Look or Not?

Should you do a first look or not? I have successfully documented weddings with or without a first look.
Based on my experience, we can usually insert an extra 45 minutes just for newlywed portraits if my couple chooses to have a first look. And most of my couples typically opt for a first look to finish all the formal portraits before the ceremony. This way, they enjoy their cocktail hour and the rest of the evening without worrying about the photo timeline. At the end of the day, it’s really up to you how you want to remember your big day!

The bride and groom with the bridesmaid and groomsman. Hours of wedding photography image by Jenny Fu Studio NYC.

Size of the Wedding Party and Formal Family List

If you’re a couple with a huge family and wedding party, consider that you might need more time than the basic eight-hour coverage. Again, more people to manage equals more time required. However, if everybody cooperates and your wedding planner has everything planned out beforehand, you can easily accomplish group portraits. For example, I can usually complete family formals in under 30 minutes if everybody sticks around immediately following the ceremony.

The bride and groom are walking in the street with transparent umbrellas. Editorial wedding image by Jenny Fu Studio

Is Travel Involved?

Another thing to consider in determining your hours of wedding photography is travel from the getting-ready location to the ceremony and then finally to the reception area. It’s cool if everything happens in one place. But if you do it in different places, it’s best to allocate time for traveling from one place to another.

An elegant dining table with a colorful flower centerpiece for a wedding in NYC.

Time to Photograph the Reception Area

Can you imagine the look of the reception area before everyone comes in? Think of all the decorations, centerpieces, candelabra, florals, dessert table, and all the beautiful details. It’s great to have images of all the details because most often, couples wouldn’t know what the reception area looks like beforehand. It usually takes me 30 minutes to photograph all the details. However, the area needs to be free from guests to get a ‘clean’ image of the room. So this is another thing you will need your wedding coordinator to insert into the timeline.

The bride and groom are smiling with a guest at their wedding in NYC. Editorial wedding image by Jenny Fu Studio.

Special Surprises

If you have special surprises on your wedding day, it’s best to let your photographer know so you can be sure it will be captured. Everybody loves surprises, and so do I! I’m sure your photographer will do their best to document it.

The newlywed couple is kissing underneath a transparent umbrella in NYC. Image by Jenny Fu Studio