Great! You’ve found your perfect, dream photographer! You’ve contacted them, they’re available! All your must-haves seems to be coming together. They send you over a menu of options to choose from. Then suddenly, you’re stuck. How many hours will I need? Do I need two photographers (more on that here)? Should I get the album now or wait until after I see my photos? Do I really need professional prints? Or what’s the difference between a “mini” engagement session and a “full” engagment session? As a matter of fact, do I even NEED an engagement session?!
Fret not! We’re here to help!
This little blog is written as if you are NOT one of my brides/couples! If you are, then we’ve already had this chat and it will sound familiar! 🙂
When I get an inquiry, and the couple is ready to book, but is hung up on which package suits them best, the two questions I ask are: What time does your ceremony and reception start? How long is your ceremony?
These pieces of information are pivotal (Pivot! PIVOT!) when figuring out how long your photographer(s) should be with you. If you are having your ceremony and reception all at one venue with both events within a couple hours of each other, you could probably get away with six hours. However, you will typically have to decide if you want getting ready photos or more of your reception documented.
Eight hour coverage days are by far the most popular package that I book. Not all photography packages are structured the same way, but our eight hour package comes with two photographers as well, whereas our six hour package doesn’t. Later on, we’ll chat about if having a second photographer is beneficial to you or not!
For whatever reason, eight hours seems to be the sweet spot for most non-Catholic(or a religion with a longer ceremony time) ceremony wedding days. It typically fits in about an hour or so of getting ready time as well as about an hour and a half to two hours of reception time (see this blog, on more info on reception timing to help you visualize how a typical reception may look). I would also say that my most popular time range is 12pm-8pm and 1pm-9pm.
The grand-daddy of packages is a ten hour package. Similar to the eight hour package, this one also comes with a second photographer if you’re booking with us. Ten hour days are typically Catholic weddings or another religion with a longer ceremony. Catholic weddings commonly have a ceremony earlier in the day and a reception that isn’t until the evening, which leaves a LARGE chunk of time in between for travel and photos. Since 99.9% of wedding photography is a running clock (no leave and come back break times), this is why you’ll need more hours with your coverage team.
Most photographers (like myself) will also have “a la carte” or add-on options so you can customize your very own unique package. For example, I have couples who will choose the six hour package and hire a second photographer or I have couples who only need nine hours, so they choose the eight hour package and add on an hour.
Talk to your photographer about those options and if you’re locked in to the package you chose or if you can add on to it later if need be. For me, I would venture to say that one in four of my couples end up adding an hour once we get to writing out their timeline and they see what their day is shaping up to look like.
Do I NEED an engagement session?
Of course, you don’t NEED an engagement session to continue living and sometimes circumstances don’t allow for one (such as last minute booking or destination weddings where you live out of state from your photographer). HOWEVER, your photographer may in fact NEED it. All of our packages come with a complimentary engagement session. There’s a few reasons for that; I get to know you and you get to know me. While I’m blessed enough to have the honor of photographing a lot of friends and family, the reality is that I meet a lot of my couples online. Your engagement session is also a trail run of sorts with your photographer. You as well as your photographer will learn how you two like to be photographed, so when your best day ever finally arrives, you three are on the same page and can focus on celebrating your nuptials while documenting everything the way you love!
What is the difference between a mini session and a full session? Do I need a full session?
A mini session is typically done in one outfit, one location and less than a half hour. Mini engagement sessions are perfect for those couples (or grooms lets be honest! lol) who aren’t too keen on having photos taken, but want some documentation of the time, want to meet their photographer and get familiar with the process. Simple!
Full engagement sessions (for me) are usually an hour an a half. This time includes at least one outfit change and possibly a location change or two. A full engagement session is really the best way to get a feel for your photographer and how you work together as a team. Not to mention, that’s usually when all the fun stuff happens! You will also have a wider variety of photos to choose from and display in your home!
Only one of our packages had any type of print products included. Print products for those of you who don’t know are physical items with your photos on or in it! So this includes albums, prints, canvases, etc.
If you can lock in a price for your album or other products, I highly suggest you say “YES” to the album or whatever you’re considering. Just like anything else, the print market increases over time. So while you may want to check out your photos first, that may lead to you paying more for your album. Definitely talk to your photographer about your options and if they can work out a payment plan for you!
To recap: Your photographer is the best one to ask for their advice on how much coverage you need! Eight hours is what works best for about 75% of my couples, but everyone’s wedding is different! So PLEASE don’t get overwhelmed! Lean on your photographer and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Thank you for sticking with me!