When you first begin looking at wedding photographers, you’re going to notice that different photographers offer different styles for how they charge. Some photographers will have packages that include 6 hours, 8 hour and 10 hours while others may only offer ‘full day’ but may have varying inclusions like albums, prints or second shooters. I personally split my packages for into three groups; a full day, a half day, and an elopement package.
The Full Day
The full wedding day includes photography from generally a two to three hours before the ceremony, until sometime into the dance floor chaos. I don’t specify an exact time, because it’s based off what I’m covering rather than a time frame, but you can expect it to be somewhere between 10-12 hours.
For ease, the times I’ll give are based on having a 2pm ceremony. I’ll arrive around 11am to photograph some of the getting ready madness for both couples. As a quick note, if you’re getting ready miles apart from one another, I’ll recommend a second photographer be added on to ensure we can capture both – if you’re nearby one another, I can comfortably get to both.
After you’re basically ready, I’ll make my way to the ceremony location just slightly ahead of the start time – ideally around 1:30-1:45pm. This gives me a chance to capture guests arriving and mingling and to photograph some of the details before the space fills with people. Your ceremony will end roughly around 2:45-3pm, at which point we can spend some time getting photographs with all the extended family.
At 3:30pm (ish), we’ll head to grab some photographs with the bridal party (if you’re having one) and yourselves and about 15 minutes in, we’ll sit the bridal party aside and grab some photographs of just you two wherever we’ve decided to go. Sometime’s the bridal party will come along for the whole ride, or often they’ll head back to the reception location for their share of canapes – whatever works.
There’s obviously a few variables but I generally like to set aside 30-45 minutes of actual shooting time for the portraits – so that doesn’t include the time it takes us to Uber about. It can be done in less, but it’s not the same experience and won’t be as enjoyable. Anything over 60 minutes is overkill generally but there’s definitely exceptions to this.
Once we return to the reception at around 4:30-5pm, you’ll get to hang out and mingle with all your friends and family before all the formalities officially kick off. I’ll then be there photographing people hanging out, people giving toasts and speeches – everything that is happening, essentially. At golden hour, I love to steal you both again just for 15 minutes to grab some extra photos in that bit of light that is moody and amazing – most of the portraits you’ll see on my site and IG are from that point of the day and I really think it’s worth setting time aside for.
Once the dance floor kicks off – probably around 8:30-9pm, I’ll be in amongst the chaos for 30 minutes or so before getting ready to wind up. The first 30 minutes of the dance floor usually makes for the best photographs with everything bringing their a game and people jumping about with kids on their shoulders etc, so that’s what I focus on. People are also often done with having the photographer there documenting their bad decisions, so unless you’re planning a huge exit, I’ll usually be ready to head off around 10pm and leave you all to party yourselves out and continue on at whatever bar will take you when the reception finishes.
The Half Day
The half day package works best for intimate weddings with a later ceremony time and is generally capped at 5 hours in length. Based off a 2pm ceremony time, this would see me arrive for getting ready photos at around 1pm. If the second partner is getting ready in the same area or within 5 minutes, I’ll endeavour to get to you both however it may only be one partner that I can photograph.
After the 2pm ceremony and family photos, we’ll usually take some bridal party photographs for 15-20 minutes before then taking some photographs of you two together. Ideally we’d set aside around 45 minutes not including travel time if we go off-site. This often sees us returning to the reception around 4:30-4:45pm. I’m then there to photograph the first formalities of the day – usually some toasts or speeches until 6pm. The last thing I tend to do before leaving is to grab you both for another 15 minutes of photographs in the later afternoon light.
This package works really well if you’re having a smaller wedding or a later ceremony – it’s compact and covers the essentials. However it can miss large parts of the day. I don’t recommend trying to squeeze as much as possible into the 5 hours – it makes for things being rushed, you won’t enjoy the experience as much and you’ll be missing the chance to document your wedding day as a whole.
My elopement package includes 3 hours and is available from Monday – Thursday. It’s perfect for smaller, intimate weddings or civil ceremonies and usually allows for documentation of the last stages of getting ready, some family photographs and photographs of you two together. The great thing is that there is often more flexibility and we can have a greater emphasis on going somewhere unique and beautiful for your photographs together. I recommend pushing the ceremony part as late into the day as possible so that we can make use of the later afternoon light for your photos together.
Another option is to have the civil ceremony earlier in the day without being photographed, but exchange vows together somewhere together with just a small handful of people. This allows you the ultimate flexibility and means you can exchange vows somewhere that is important and sentimental to you both.