Shelly Pate

Wedding Photography Packages: Knowing How to Choose the Best Fit

Couple walks through garden at Washington DC wedding

Your wedding day can be as long or as short as you like. It can be a five-minute self-officiated ceremony in your backyard, or a full-day elopement in both Washington, DC and nature. Your nuptials can turn into a multi-day event and include several venues in addition to day-before or day-after photos. No matter your wedding day selections, it can be confusing knowing exactly how much wedding photography coverage you need. Keep reading for the main factors to consider when choosing between wedding photography packages!

Couple exchanges vows at Washington DC wedding
Couple stands beside columns of Lincoln Memorial sunset elopement

A Wedding Photographer’s Advice on How Much Coverage You Actually Need

As your photographer, you might assume the first thing I’ll recommend is the highest all-inclusive package with all the bells and whistles. In guiding my clients, I actually recommend that you design your dream day first and then coordinate your photography coverage to match it.

Groomsmen cheers while getting ready as part of wedding photography packages

I recommend wedding photography packages include as many hours as you need for full coverage (photographing full wedding timeline from beginning to end) even if that means minimizing other areas budget-wise. You don’t want important moments like your first look, getting ready with bridesmaids, or your sparkler exit missed only because your photography coverage ended too soon. Here’s how to avoid it by assessing your wedding photography coverage needs according to the type of wedding you’re having.

Couple holds hands walking down DC streets as part of wedding photography packages

How to Choose the Package Right For You

Couple embraces during Reflecting Pool sunset elopement

I recommend specific packages according to the number of hours needed to cover the majority of your wedding day timeline. Traditional full-day weddings generally take 8+ hours to document. This includes each special moment from those butterfly feels as you get ready to the send-off at the end of the night!

Full-day wedding photography packages work the best because you have complete freedom to do anything you want! Your wedding can be a magical, one-of-a-kind experience that is all about you two and your journey. On top of that, an all-day event allows for the best lighting. There’s no better time to shoot than during sunrise OR sunset, so why not do both? The light is what makes the magic!

Bride holds dress standing beside groom at sunset elopement

Wedding Photography Packages: Elopement & Intimate Wedding Options

Elopements differ since our timeline is much more of a guide because it is usually just the photo/video team and you two! We can move from one thing to the next when we all feel we are ready. These wedding photography packages have more flexibility including fun activities and taking photos around THE best light possible!

The day is catered to just two people (or a super small group) so there is less time being pulled in every direction for wedding events. You get to focus solely on the activities you two are excited about whether it’s including traditional ones or going off on an adventure!

An intimate wedding or elopement that uses a traditional wedding timeline requires 6-8 hours of coverage and adding your own adventure means 8+ hours. Hikes, picnics, and going to multiple locations all rely on distance and driving time. Elopements or intimate weddings can run anywhere from 4-12 hours depending upon your selected activities:

  • 4 hours is great for one location or two nearby locations plus a getting-ready space.
  • 6 hours works if we are going on a hike or exploring an area like Washington, DC neighborhoods or Shenandoah National Park.
  • 7+ hours if we have some driving to do between locations. Often we’ll get up for sunrise, take a little nap in the afternoon and then go out again for sunset.
  • My vow renewal was booked for 12 hours. We went to two different locations that had a 1 hour drive each way from our hotel. One location was for sunrise and then we went back out for sunset with a little hike & picnic.

If you aren’t opting for an elopement (0-15 guests) or an intimate wedding (usually 50 guests or less) then a traditional full-day wedding with 50 guests or more generally takes 6-8 hours to document. Talk to your partner before you discuss packages with your photographer so we can better determine how many hours of coverage you need!

Questions to Determine Wedding Photography Packages

  1. Are you planning an intimate wedding or elopement that still uses a traditional wedding timeline (first look, ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, dancing, etc)?
  2. Do you want part of your day to be exclusively for y’all separate from the intimate celebration? Are we going on a hike? Are we driving to multiple locations? Do you want to incorporate activities like a picnic?
  3. Do you want getting-ready moments captured?
  4. Do you want to take photos before the ceremony or have an extended cocktail hour?
  5. Are you going to multiple locations?
  6. Do you want to give your photographer time to get creative with your portraits or limit this time?
  7. How many family members are being included for formal photos?
  8. How large is your wedding party?
  9. Are you doing a special send-off or late-night party?
Wedding party jumps beside couple at Washington DC wedding

Wedding Photography Packages Hinge Primarily on Time

Couple walks through garden at sunset DC wedding

Choosing well between wedding photography packages is so crucial in avoiding the main wedding day stressor: time. Investing in a photographer that understands timelines, location transitions, and your venue area is of utmost importance!

I’ve had weddings that did not do a first look, had a large amount of family photos, or included a full photography and videography team which required more time. I felt like the couple was stressed the entire time trying to cram everything into the 45-minute cocktail hour. We did not have the freedom to get creative with their photos so they didn’t receive as many as the couples who chose to do a first look.

Having breathing room in your schedule, no matter the wedding day you design, allows your vendors to get creative and you can soak it all in instead of running around feeling rushed. This also permits time for things like going to the bathroom! If you follow these wedding day tips, you won’t feel like you are missing out on anything!

Couple holds hands walking through grassy field

Let me do some of the wedding planning work for you and share the steps I take my couples through to select the perfect wedding or elopement package. I offer complimentary calls where we can discuss your ideas and I can cater recommendations to your specific wedding plans!

Couple kisses under columns at Lincoln Memorial
Couple holds hands in artistic wedding photo
Couple kisses in blurry wedding photo

The Team

Coreene & Ben

Dress | Wardrobe By Dulcinea
Makeup | PriscillaM Beauty
Entertainment | Cherry Blossom String Quartet
Coordinator | Green Dragonfly Events
Venue | Tudor Place

Rachel & Steve

Dress | BHLDN by Nouvelle Amsale
HMU | JSL Visions
Cake | Buzz Bakeshop
Venue & Catering | Iron Gate Restaurant

Wedding Tips Series

Part 1: Make the Most of Your Wedding Morning Getting Ready
Part 2: Best Wedding Day Tips: How to Plan a Relaxed Wedding
Part 3: Private Moment Inspiration: More Than Just Your Wedding First Look
Part 4: Wedding Photography Packages: Knowing How to Choose the Best Fit
Part 5: Getting the Best Wedding Day Photos – Tips & Ideas for Wedding Photo Poses Part 6: Unique Wedding Planning Tips for a Smooth Wedding Day

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