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How Long Should You Book Your Wedding Photographer For?

  |   By Samantha Ong

Photography by Samantha Ong Photography as seen in this real wedding.

When newly engaged couples begin planning their wedding, they almost immediately begin searching for a photographer. Many don’t understand how to book a photographer or how to go about picking a package. Most photographers offer a six-hour package, an eight-hour package, a ten-hour package and sometimes even a twelve to fourteen-hour package. I’ve even photographed for sixteen straight hours before!

It can be particularly difficult to understand just how many hours you need to hire a photographer for. Picking too many hours can be excessive and expensive but choosing too few hours could mean missing out on pictures you will treasure for a lifetime. How many hours you should hire a wedding photographer depends upon several factors. Here is my quick guide of the best options for wedding photography coverage.

What is the size of your wedding?
The first thing you need to figure out just how large your wedding will be. How many guests are you planning to invite? How many bridesmaids and groomsmen will there be? It’s best to choose your photography package based on the size of your wedding. Six hours of coverage is perfect for smaller, more intimate weddings of 50 guests or less. The eight-hour package deal is the best option for the “average” wedding, which typically has around 100 to 150 guests. If you are planning to host more than 150 guests, booking your photographer for ten hours will be a good idea.

What photos do you want captured?
There’s lots to think about your wedding day but making sure you have it all captured the way you envisioned means you have to make sure you have enough coverage. Ask yourself questions like: Is it imperative to have shots of your makeup being applied and your dress being zipped? Do you need a photo of your new spouse's dreamy expression during your first look or when you walk down the aisle? Do you want lot of details captured as well as every moment?

How will your day unfold?
Knowing what photos you would like captured is one thing, but thinking about the logistics of your wedding day and how you want it to unfold is another. Some other questions to ask yourself should be regarding location: will you be getting ready in the same place as the ceremony? Will your ceremony and your reception be at the same location? If not, what about time for travelling from location to location? Will you have additional traditions such as a Chinese tea ceremony or change into a different outfit?

The biggest question to think about is: how many hours is your wedding? It may not seem like it, but the six-hour photo coverage is not very long. The six-hour coverage is better if you don’t want the extra shots of small details or if your ceremony and reception are in the same location. With two extra hours, eight hours is a great option for those who want pictures of their dress, jewelry, shoes, and most of the fun at their reception. If you want to go all out, want to have tons of pictures of every possible moment, then ten hours are highly recommended.

Essentially, your photographer should be able to help you determine which package is right for you. That is why it is extremely important to hire an experienced photographer. As a wedding photographer, it is my job to listen to really listen to my couples and understand what’s important to them.

Samantha Ong is a Toronto-based wedding photographer and the owner of Samantha Ong Photography, a boutique wedding and lifestyle studio specializing in romantic, whimsical, and timeless photography.


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