Wedding Photography Coverage: What's Right for You?


No doubt during your wedding planning you'll have come across full day or half day packages, even elopements or by the hour coverage. With so many choices, it can be hard to know which one is right for your day. 


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The short answer is: it depends. 

It's also the least helpful answer!


When you are planning your wedding day, it can be difficult to envisage how things will run and how each part of it might take. Many couples worry about their guests getting bored and it can be easy to want to do too much on the day as well


Having photographed countless weddings over the years, I have built my packages around the optimal number of hours to maximise your wedding photography and deliver the best shots - from candids to couples, details to décor. Choosing your wedding photography coverage can mean skipping some unrepeatable parts of your day or not missing a moment at all, and for those unsure about what images they might get, here are my tips & recommendations below.


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Morning Preparations

Recommended: 2hrs


This is one of my favourite parts of a wedding to photograph

This is the part of the day where you are both getting ready. Hair & Make up have arrived and you'll both be easing into your day with your loved ones. There'll be a buzz of excitement in the air as well as you slowly start to see your vision unfold. 


Your photography during this time is full of details shots - such as your wedding dress, shoes, rings, bouquet, bowties and buttonholes. There's lot of emotion & excitement in your images. You'll also receive lots of candids and informal group shots with groomsmen & bridesmaids. It's the perfect time for milestone moments such as first looks with parents (and each other if you want!)


I recommend 2hrs to capture this part of the day, and you can maximise your photography by getting ready at or nearby your venue. Long travel times between venues can add stress and unexpected delays to your day, so when you're all together at the venue it can mean a really fun, relaxed morning of photography.

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If you are getting ready at another location and are travelling to your venue, then it's best to over estimate how long you might take to get ready so that you don't feel rushed.


When morning prep is happening at another location to the ceremony, I always leave at least 20 mins before the bride or groom to avoid potential traffic delays and be ready for your arrival. That might mean reduced candids as we aren't all leaving the bridal suite together and can also mean getting into your dress a little earlier than you'd think if you want those first looks or informal group shots with your bridesmaids. 

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For couples who are looking at shorter coverage but still want some aspects of morning prep captured, then I recommend reserving at least 45 mins of your photography for this part of your day.


Ceremony

Recommended: 45-60 mins


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I always estimate at least 30-45 minutes for a ceremony, and up to an hour if my couples are including religious elements such as a catholic mass. 


Ceremony coverage begins just before you or your partner walks down the aisle, and usually I'll take some informal shots of your wedding party just before the main event. Whether you have readings, handfasting or quaich ceremonies, the length of your ceremony is personal to you. You'll always receive candid, natural shots of your ceremony as it happened, including ring exchange, first kiss and the signing of the register. 


Drinks Reception & Cocktail Hour

Recommended: 1.5-2hrs


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This is the fun bit with bubbles and nibbles between your ceremony and sit down meal. You might be outside in the courtyard at your reception venue in the summer or in an elegant library inside during winter or one of Scotland's famous rainy days. 


During this time, a lot of things can happen photography wise. If I am your photographer, there'll be lots of candid, natural moments of your guests laughing and joking together. This is also a great time for some group shots and couple portraits. If you are wanting a confetti shot, then I recommend that we schedule this immediately after the ceremony or as the drinks reception is about to begin if you've travelled between venues.

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If your ceremony and reception are at different venues, I'd still recommend at least 1.5hrs for your drinks reception to maximise your photography. Where couples have scheduled an hour or less between their ceremony and their meal, then it can mean compromising on candids, group shots or couples portraits as there is not enough time to cover everything and still enjoy the reception itself. 


Group Shots & Couples Portraits

Recommended: 20 mins maximum for group shots / 20 mins minimum for couples portraits

Taken during drinks reception


While I do offer group shots, my style is very much candids & romantic couples shots.

When planning with my couples, I always recommend group shots consist of the Wedding Party & Immediate Family. These tend to be the most popular shot lists and for many couples the most important. We can get a range of combinations with mums, dads, bridesmaids & groomsmen as well as grandparents and siblings without taking you away from your reception for too long.


Wedding Party & Immediate Family group shots with me take less than 20 minutes and will always be taken at a scenic spot close to your drinks reception. I also recommend taking group shots within the first 30 mins of your wedding reception.     

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Couples Portraits are again one of my favourite parts of the day. These can be taken immediately after your group shots, or you can enjoy a little more of your drinks reception first.


I recommend at least 20 minutes for a range of compositions, and gladly invite couples to spend a little longer if they want the focus of their day to be on them. 


One thing to remember is that these shots will usually be taken during your drinks reception. So if you have scheduled 1.5hrs for your drinks reception, remember that 40 mins of this may be used for group shots & couple portraits.

The more group shots you want, the less time for candids and couple portraits.

Finding the right balance between these photography options is very much a personal choice, but I'm always happy to offer advice & guidance.

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For me, the drinks reception is also the time that I sneak into your dining hall or marquee and photograph your table setup and décor before anyone arrives. As part of your gallery you'll receive beautiful images that capture the atmosphere of your wedding banquet. I'll only need 10 minutes for this, and usually this is done towards the end of your drinks reception.


Speeches

Recommended: 20-30 mins


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To be honest whenever a couple say that the best man's speech is only 10 minutes, I automatically add another 10 on top! Speeches always take a little longer than you think, with people pausing for laughter, nerves and tears of joy. Typically they can be anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes per person. As a ballpark for 3 speeches given, expect between 20-40 minutes on average.


Most venues will call guests to the meal 30 minutes before the meal begins, with your announcement into the dining hall made after everyone is seated. This can take a little bit longer for larger weddings and I'm usually prepared for a later start (sometimes it has been an hour later because the guests & couple have been having so much fun!)


Photographs of the speeches typically will be of the speech giver, guest reactions and also the reactions and expressions of the couple, plus the moment any gifts are giving as well.


Wedding Banquet

Recommended: 2hrs


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Most sit-down wedding banquets are around 2hrs and during this time you'll have a chance to relax, eat great food and enjoy the company of good friends & family.

For me, I'm usually on a break, having a little rest myself. It's very often the first time I'll have sat down since I arrived for your morning preparations.

Don't worry, this time isn't deducted from your photography coverage! And bonus, if you'd like some backlit or sunset shots between courses then just let me know and I can be ready for you.


Evening Reception

Recommended: 1.5-2hrs


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With your meal finished, it's time for the evening celebrations. In my experience, this is the part of the day that's most personalised. Many couples cut the cake around this time, but some do it before the speeches. During this part of the day I'm once again capturing candid moments between friends & family, as well as the arrival of any evening guests. 

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I recommend capturing at least 1.5-2hrs of your evening reception. This is the perfect amount of time to catch all those crucial moments - such as cake cutting, first dance & great moments between friends as you begin to sway & twirl the night away.

During this time you might want a second couples portrait session - a hugely popular choice with my couples, especially during early spring & late summer when the sun sets earlier in the evening. Some sunset shots, sparklers or backlit shots can be a great way to end your day's photography too.

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So what does this all mean for your wedding photography?


Many couples will intuitively know they'll want a full day's coverage, but when you are planning your own wedding it can be tricky to plan & schedule each portion of your day. 


That's why understanding how long each part of it will take and how that ties into your photography is so important. As your photographer, I'll always advise the best decisions to take to make your day as relaxed, fun and stress-free as possible. I understand that things can take slightly longer than planned and being flexible is all part of the service.

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Always Available for Advice


If you'd like to chat in more depth about your day or get more detailed and personalised advice about your photography or my packages, then I am always available to chat. With me, you'll receive honest, genuine advice and I'll never set expectations that can't be met. Book zoom or drop me an email with any questions you have.

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© S.G Mark Photography | S.G Mark Photography is the trading name of Cyclops Consulting Ltd | Registered in Scotland | Company Registration SC437474 | 113 St John's Road Edinburgh EH12 8AT

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