How Much Wedding Photography Coverage Do You Actually Need? | Los Angeles Wedding Photographer

Central Park engagement

Wedding planning can be described in many different ways: fun, stressful, confusing, an excel lovers dream, exciting, monumental. 

One of the most difficult questions you ask yourself, besides what your dress will look like, is “How long should I book my photographer for?” 

This honestly depends on your actual wedding. 

I know, I know, NOT the answer you wanted. Don’t worry, I’ll go through a few things to give you a better idea of what you may need. 

Telling A Story 

Many times couples look at their potential photography coverage this way:

“Our ceremony starts at 5pm and the reception ends at 9pm……so we need 5 hours of coverage.” 

By choosing 5 hours of coverage, you may be doing yourself a disservice if you want a story to be told through images. 

There are many other parts of the day that help tell your story. The jokes you and your wedding party will be sharing with each other, how much fun you had getting in to your dress, your mothers look when she saw you as a bride before anyone else, the anticipation leading up to the ceremony, the burst of joy at the ceremony and the incredible celebration after. All of these components are just as important as the family formals and pictures of the first kiss. 

If you want a full gallery of images that truly brings you back to your wedding day every time you see them, you may want to base your coverage start time on your getting ready start time. 

Normally, during our initial consultation, I always talk about the getting ready time. Having been to many weddings, I know that getting ready can take longer then expected. 
You should allocate about 3 hours for you and your girls to get ready (trust me). 

So lets use the example above and take a deeper dive in to what the day would really look like. 

The ceremony starts at 5pm, which means your first look would start at about 1pm. 

This would give you time to have your first look, do family formals, have photos with your wedding party and couples portraits. After this you’re able to be separated for a bit to build the anticipation before walking down the aisle. 

Why is this important? Well, when I am photographing your wedding, I still want the ceremony photos to be genuine and beautiful. So we separate the couple before the ceremony to rebuild those feelings. 

I digress. If your first look starts at 1pm, you want to be done with hair and make up by 1030am. Between 1030am and 1230pm you would be enjoying some bubbly with your girls, getting in to your dress, having solo portraits done, sharing intimate moments with your parents and reading the card your fiancé wrote for you. 

With a hair and make up end time at 1030am, you would start at about 7am. 

Whoa! Those 5 hours just went out the window because, let’s be honest, YOU NEED IT ALL DOCUMENTED. 

For a day like the one described, 10 hours of coverage is perfect. 10am-8pm. 

By being with you for a full 10 hour day I can capture your details, small moments, big moments and create a gallery that allows you to relive your day in its entirety. 


You may have noticed that I worked backwards. This works best for me. Many times, couples know what time the ceremony starts and the reception ends. So working backwards works really well. You’re able to visualize your day and understand that there needs to be time blocked out for each small event that will happen through out the day. 

What About Elopements?

Elopements are generally thought of as short and fast. No frills, no party, no hoopla. 

When thinking about elopement coverage, you should approach it just as you would a regular wedding.

No, I don’t mean book a 10 hour package. I mean, think about the story YOU want told and how much of that story takes place before and after the ceremony. 

Are you getting ready with a few important people at home? Will you be walking to the ceremony site together? Are you doing a first look? Will you be doing portraits after? Are you getting in to a car and driving straight to the airport right after the ceremony?

All of these things will greatly determine the amount of time you want your photographer there for. 

Crystal Stewart