How Long Do We Really Need Our Wedding Photographer | MJ Mendoza Photography

Want to know how many hours to book your wedding photographer? There are some considerations to make – learn them here!

By Monica Mendoza with MJ Mendoza Photography

When taking a step back and looking at the wedding day, it can feel a little overwhelming. You’ll want photos from the start of your day with friends getting ready and all the way to the end with those fun sparklers after the reception. So, you may wonder, how many hours are actually needed?

There are a few ways to decide how many hours are necessary for photography coverage. Since every wedding is unique and not every situation is the same, options may vary and will depend on several factors. This includes the length of the ceremony, the time the reception ends, and how many locations there will be. If there is a different place for getting ready, the ceremony, and the reception, you will need to account for travel time to each.

First, decide how important it is to capture these two things: getting ready and details (e.g. rings, invitation suite, etc.); reception and grand exit.

If you desire those gorgeous, styled photos of the bridal details and the fun getting ready images with your wedding party (popping champagne in matching PJ sets or robes!) but don’t care as much for photos like dancing and the exit, then we don’t have to worry about covering the whole reception. Capturing major events like the special dances, toasts, and cake cutting, with 30-60 minutes of dancing (and that is plenty of time to get a lot of photos if you have guests who are ready to party!) will save on time that the photographer needs to be there.

On the flip side, if you want every moment of the reception covered, including the exit, but don’t care so much for the getting ready or detail photos, the timeline for the photographer’s coverage can shift to cover all the reception so they are there for the fun sparkler (bubble, ribbon, etc.) exit!

A lot of wedding photography collections offer 6, 8, and 10 hours as well as hourly options. This is not a given with every photographer, but they are the most common ones. Here’s a small breakdown about those 6/8/10 hour choices!

6 hours:

– Covers the essentials like the first look, ceremony, portraits, and early/mid reception.

– Best for weddings in one location or for intimate, smaller celebrations.

– Usually, either the getting ready and details portion OR the whole reception but typically not both in full.

8 Hours:

– Covers getting ready and detail photos all the way until late or end of the reception (depending on how long the party is!).

– Best for weddings in one location.

– This is the minimum amount of time recommended to capture your day without squeezing things together in a tight timeline or missing events.

10 Hours:

– Covers everything! You’ll get those beautiful getting ready photos and details, first look, ceremony, portraits, and all the fun that’s going to happen at the reception, ending with the grand exit!

– Best for larger weddings or those with multiple locations: getting ready at a hotel, ceremony at a church, and reception at the venue.

– You’ll be less stressed, have wiggle room in the timeline for traveling between locations, and be more relaxed knowing you aren’t rushed.

Nadine - Josh - MJ Mendoza Photography
Pro tip: If the reception is ending later and you’d like photos of the grand exit but the photographer’s coverage time ends before then, you can ask about adding an extra hour or two of coverage or plan to do a controlled exit. Meaning before the dance floor opens up for the night, you and your guests will go outside for sparkler photos. The photographer will get those pictures, and you’ll be able to go back to the reception and start dancing!

Monica Mendoza is a bright and colorful wedding photographer serving couples with a modern and refined taste who are also ready to hit the dance floor, drink in hand! Now booking for romantic & joy filled weddings in 2022 & beyond, you can find her at or reach out at All photos from MJ Mendoza Photography