Bride and Groom with colorful Fall leaves and Virginia mountain backdrop at King Family Vineyard

When you start searching for your wedding photographer, it can become an overwhelming process of comparing prices, packages, and styles. This is why shopping for photographers can be tricky! Even when looking at websites, some photographers may list their full package breakdown, while others simply state a starting price. 

Here’s why price is deceiving… There is a HUGE difference in a starting price of $1500, which might include 3 hours of coverage with 100 photos… vs a full day wedding experience for $5000 with 1000+ photos that captures all of the details from getting ready, to your send off with tons of bonuses like added sessions, albums, and a second shooter. Having a budget in mind is absolutely essential, but it’s helpful to make informed decisions about what you can get in your price range! It can be tempting to choose the least expensive photographer, but without the right expectations for what that cost equals on your wedding day, you could end up MAJORLY disappointed and less than ideal documentation of one of the best days of your life! 

Finding a package in your budget that FITS YOUR NEEDS, is essential!  I’m breaking down the most popular types of wedding packages so you can determine the number of hours that fits your vision! 

Bride and groom sunset kiss at Common House rooftop Bride and groom on their wedding day at Common House rooftop Bride and Groom wedding reception at Common House

Elopement: 2 hours

If you are looking for intimate ceremony coverage with your fiance and closest friends, an elopement package might be perfect for you. This type of coverage is best for guest lists of 15 or less, without a traditional wedding party. This package would give you a wonderful way to document your wedding ceremony, celebrations with family and a few dreamy sunset portraits. If you are planning a destination elopement that may require a few additional travel fees. However tons of photographers offer extra incentives for destination weddings, so don’t ever rule out your dream photographer without asking! 

Check out an inside look at Isabel and Andrew’s intimate elopement in Fairfax, Virginia HERE!

Micro Wedding: 4 hours

Micro weddings have become increasingly popular in the last year, with Covid restrictions limiting guest sizes. This type of coverage is best for guest lists of 50 people or less. This is a great way to celebrate the big moments and still allow enough time to feel pampered on your wedding day. A smaller 4 hour wedding package often includes photos of the couples getting ready, ceremony details, family formals and a few Newlywed portraits!  Oftentimes couples will book a beautiful venue to host their ceremony for a few hours and then forgo the traditional reception by having a group dinner reservation at their favorite spot nearby!  

View more of Sarai and Cristhian’s Micro Wedding at Common House in Charlottesville, Virginia HERE!

Bridesmaids getting ready for their wedding in Charlottesville VA Groomsmen getting ready for their wedding in Charlottesville VA Wedding Ceremony with colorful Fall leaves and Virginia mountain backdrop Bride and Groom with colorful Fall leaves and Virginia mountain backdrop at King Family Vineyard Bride and Groom with colorful Fall leaves and Virginia mountain backdrop at King Family Vineyard

Standard Wedding Coverage: 8 hours

This package is great for capturing the essence of your wedding day! Every detail from getting ready in the morning, first looks, ceremony tears, and reception festivities will be well documented. These standard wedding packages will be great for filling photo books, and looking back through the biggest moments, hilarious family speeches, and epic dance moves on the reception floor. The coverage will typically include a few hours of reception photos but end before the final send off. Don’t you worry, there are always ways to stage a FAUX EXIT to capture those sparker photos you have been dreaming of, without adding extra hours to your budget. This standard coverage works great for couples with larger guest lists, wedding parties, and one central location. If you will be traveling to multiple locations on your wedding day, you may need to add on additional hours! 

View more of Faith and Sam’s Wedding Day at King Family Vineyard:  HERE!

Full Day Coverage: 10 hours

The ALL-INCLUSIVE package! This covers all of the details from planning the perfect engagement session to a relaxed wedding morning and every angle covered on your big day, even through your reception send off! This type of coverage will make sure that there is no rush throughout the night to capture all that goes on behind the scenes on your wedding day. TRUST ME, 10 hours will fly by… having the full day documented will preserve those memories to look back on forever. Most photographers often include extra incentives for booking their top package, which may include additional photo sessions, such as engagement, boudoir, or bridal portraits as well as wedding albums to share with friends and family and show off your photo collection! 

See an inside look at Mark and Lindsay’s Wedding Day in Charlottesville, Virginia: HERE!

Destination Wedding Coverage: 1-3 Days

If you are planning a destination wedding or have an out of town photographer you have been swooning over, creating a multi day package may be the perfect option for you! Destination packages often include coverage spread across 1-3 days with plenty of time to document the full wedding weekend activities. They may include additional travel fees for out of town photographers, but can often be lumped together with a ton of bonuses that allow you to capture the memories from multiple parts of the weekend. This is likely the only time in your life, this large collection of friends and family will all be together in the same place… so why not create a package that fully documents all of these details! 

View more of Mary Shea and Nick’s Destination Wedding in the Eastern Shore: HERE!

I hope this hourly breakdown will help you in determining the best type of coverage for your wedding day. If you are looking for a few additional resources for your photographer search check out these links below:

 The Top 5 Questions to Ask your Wedding Photographer 

6 Steps to Finding your Perfect Wedding Photographer

Is a Wedding Album worth the Investment?

Wedding planning tips for photographer hours

Wedding Photography Packages | How many hours of coverage do we need?

Mar 26, 2021

hey friends!

I'm Heather, a Wedding & Brand Photographer serving Central Virginia & Beyond! I love sharing beautiful love stories, inspiring wedding details, and practical tips for a stress free wedding!

recent posts

wedding tips

Real weddings

Brand sessions