Out of the hundreds of weddings I’ve photographed the ceremony itself has lasted more than 10 or 15 minutes just a few times. Given that fact, you may be asking why you need so many hours of photography coverage. While the ceremony itself is the centerpiece of events, your wedding is actually a multi-day event which is the culmination of months of planning. Let’s look deeper into the parts of the celebration that are also important memories which deserve to be remembered in pictures.

Rehearsal/Rehearsal Dinner Rehearsals are generally very light-hearted and fun. While important in getting the ceremony orchestrated properly, rehearsals are also a great bonding time for the members of your wedding party who may have just met for the first time. Having your photographer attend the rehearsal will give you more pictures of memories that are easily forgotten over the course of a busy and stressful weekend. It will also help your photographer in being there to know the particulars of your ceremony. Finally, it’s also a good opportunity for your wedding party and immediate family to meet your photographer before the wedding. This really helps everyone work more comfortably together on the wedding day.

Getting Ready  How many hours are you spending getting ready for your wedding? Between hair, makeup & dressing this usually takes between 2-4 hours. This time can also be the most emotional and stressful part of the day. You’ll be worrying about yourself and everyone else being ready and looking great. There are special moments like your brides maids helping you into your dress or shoes, your parents seeing you in your dress for the first time, reading a special note from your soon to be spouse. So much happens while getting ready. This is also a great time for your photographer to get detail shots of rings, shoes, dress…any and everything. Oh, and while you are getting ready, your partner is somewhere else getting ready and without pictures you’ll never know what that looked like. Having this part of the day photographed is priceless and a great addition to your wedding album.

Formal Pictures  Depending on what you want and the size of your families, this can take an hour or more. Portraits with families, extended family, friends, the wedding party and of course the two of you alone. Estimating the time needed for formal pictures can be tricky, I recommend going over this in detail with your photographer. A great way to save time between the ceremony and reception is to do as many of these pictures before the ceremony as possible

Reception  The stress of the day is gone! The vows have been exchanged and the ring is on your finger. It’s finally time to relax and celebrate with friends and family. There are still plenty of memories being made and pictures to be taken. First dance, parent dances, toasts, cake cutting, bouquet/garter toss are definitely events you will want pictures of. You’ll also want plenty of candid pictures of your guests interacting with one another and with you. Oh yeah, and if someone is likely to crazy on the dance floor you will certainly want pictures of that!

So there you have it, a breakdown of a typical wedding weekend. Did this help you identify which pictures are important to you? Be sure to discuss them with your photographer so they can capture the moments you want.

I've put together a Wedding Photography Checklist and series of emails covering this topic in greater depth. Click here to get the checklist and emails. Don't worry, I won't be sending you spam.

If you haven’t yet hired a photographer I’d love to have a chat with you. We can go over the details of your plans, determine which pictures are important to you and together we can determine how many hours of coverage you will need. And if we get along like old friends we can even talk about me being your wedding photographer.