LEAH RIFE PHOTO

5 Things For Couples To Think Through For Wedding Day Photo Coverage Needs | PHOTOGRAPHER’S TIPS | SOUTH BEND INDIANA WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

A question I often get asked is, “How do we know what amount of coverage we need?” Thinking through your wedding timeline and photography coverage doesn’t have to be stressful. Below are five things to think through when considering coverage for your special day.

How do we know what amount of coverage we need? Being engaged is so exciting, but it comes with the immediate mountain of decisions including vendors, venues, logistics, and lots and LOTS of decisions. I have heard so many engaged couples say how overwhelmed they feel and how stressed they are with decisions. That makes me sad because I don’t believe your engagement time should be full of stress. It should be fun! 

I’m here to help however I can. One of the biggest points of stress I see is when engaged couples are having to decide wedding photography coverage hours. There are many package options, but there isn’t always clear communication on how to choose the right package. I’m working to make sure I’m making this clearer and clearer to inquiring couples, and that’s what spawned this blog post!


Here are five tips to think through when you are considering coverage hours: 

1. Are you going to do a first look? 

If not, just know that all of your couple and full wedding party photos and family photos will need to happen after the ceremony. How much light will you have after, if you have a fall or winter wedding? Do you want to be with guests during cocktails, or are you ok doing photos the whole time after the ceremony and before your reception intros? I always suggest couples consider why they want to not do a first look. Is there a meaningful reason, or just a tradition you think you need to follow? If it is important, then we will shift photos to focusing on solo portraits of the couple and photos of them with their attendants separately, and get as many in as possible before the ceremony. Not doing a first look is totally fine! Just know that could add some time to your coverage need.

2. Will your celebration be all on-site in one spot, or in multiple spots? 

Start calculating drive time from a getting ready spot to ceremony spot and then to the reception area, if they will be different. If you think everything will be in one location, chances are you won’t need as much coverage.

3. Are you going to want a send-off and will that be at the end of the reception? 

That will likely mean you need a fuller coverage day! Sometimes couples want those photos but don’t want to spend extra money for extra hours of coverage. A creative way to get photos that feel like a send-off is to to a faux sparkler send-off photo when your photographer’s coverage ends, and have a handful of friends or wedding party folks stand around the couple and hold the sparklers for a photo op! If you’re having a ceremony at a church but a reception at another location, another idea is to have your guests line up outside the church doors and you do a fun send-off photo with ribbons or flower petals. That gets the guests out of the ceremony and to cocktails in a timely manner and you can circle back for photos with your wedding party. You could also do the same photo op during your exit from the ceremony with flower petals. The energy is the same as an end-of-night send-off and it can be so fun!

4. Do you want sunset photos but it’s a summer wedding? 

The sun sets a lot later during the summer months (versus fall and winter), so I always check the time of sunset if couples want those golden hour photos. Sometimes it’s 9:00 or 9:30 pm, which can affect how much coverage you might need.

5. Do you want lots of getting ready photos? 

These may or may not be important to you, but if they are, you might need some extra coverage. For 8 hour packages, I find that I can get the very last-minute details – your hair and makeup artists are likely gone or packing up, and you are nearly ready to get dressed. If you want more time on the front end, adding coverage might be good. If you don’t really want these photos, you can get by with less!


These are just a few things to consider, but your photographer should be able to walk you through their packages and answer all your questions! The more I shoot 8 hour wedding days, the more I think a couple hours longer would be better. 

Many times your photographer will have a standard package with an option to add on hours later, or they might have a discounted longer package upfront. Think through your budget upfront and the cost of adding an hour or two, versus waiting until later and realizing you need more hours but they are a little higher priced.

Lastly, it’s totally ok if you don’t know all of these details right away! For example, you might not have the exact getting ready address, but you might know you won’t be getting ready at the church. Just take what information you already have and use that to inform what hours might work best for you! Ask lots of questions and feel out how many hours might be the right fit.

I hope that helps! And, as always, feel free to leave a comment on this post and I’ll answer any other questions you have!

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Hey friends, my name is Leah Rife! I am a wedding, family, and lifestyle photographer based in Indianapolis, Indiana. I’m also the creator of The Haven Mentorship, a regular resource, and workshop for photographers.