Hi, I’m Dalton Young, Destination Wedding Videographer and Photographer, and I want to talk to you really quickly about a huge question I get asked all the time, how many hours of coverage do I need? Good question. So, start with the standard here, standard hour coverage, usually six or eight hours. Some weddings may only need two to four, some may need 10, and some may need multiple days, it just varies depending on your event. But if I’m looking at the standard wedding, it’s usually, a standard full-day wedding, it’s usually six or eight hours. Six, seven, eight, or nine, but usually six or eight, and that usually gives you all the coverage you need. The biggest thing you have to figure out is what works for you, and I’m more than happy to help with this if you have any questions.
The biggest thing is, when should we arrive and when should we leave? That’s your determining factor. When we should arrive, we can arrive as early as you want. I would say photographers and videographers should arrive about 30 minutes prior to you being finished getting ready. So if you’re supposed to be finished getting ready at noon, or let’s say you’re finished getting ready at 1:00, you’d probably want us there by 12:30. That way we can get some of those final detail shots, the final prep shots. So during this time, this is like, hey, let’s get some dress shots, let’s get some invitation, flat lays, get those shots as well, of all the details. And then also get shots of you getting hair, makeup, finished up, because the bride’s usually the last one, not always, but oftentimes, and if she’s the last one to get ready, then that allows us to get those shots of you getting your hair and makeup done.
And the biggest thing is, for your bridesmaids, many of them want to look their absolute best on camera too, and you want to make sure everybody’s already finished getting ready before the photos and video starts happening. That way everybody looks their best, everybody feels confident, and everybody matches with their hair and makeup done because you don’t want one bridesmaid to not be completely ready, and then everybody else is. Again, you want everybody to look and feel their best, and it also makes for the best photos and videos, once everybody is looking and feeling their best, it brings great energy to the video, and to the photos. The happiness is there, the cheerfulness is there, and it’s a celebration. So you really want us there about 30 minutes prior to you finishing with prep?
When should we leave? I would say have us leave towards the very end of the last event. So let’s look at the last event, whether that’s a garter toss, a bouquet toss, or a cake cutting, or maybe the dance floor opens, we’re only there for a few minutes to capture some dancing, or the first couple, two or three songs. Or you’re having an exit, this is usually what the answer is, usually we leave at the exit, the grand exit, whether that is a true end of the night exit, at the very end of the reception where you actually do leave, or whether it’s a fake exit, where you go through the exit and then you come back in and continue partying, but your photographers and videographers can leave at that point because there are no other major events happening after that.
Again, I made another video on this, about fake exits, and then also another video on types of exits, but I would say having us there to the last major event is really what you need. And this can save you a few hours of coverage at the end of the night, because, really, how many hours of dancing footage? So let’s say you have a five-minute highlight film, a five-minute cinematic highlight film, a 10-minute cinematic highlight film, the most dancing you’re going to have, I’m not talking first dances, and father/daughter dance, and mother/ son dance, and all that stuff. I’m talking about how much dance floor footage is actually going to be in your film. Does that really tell your story? Do people dancing to the Cha Cha Slide really tell your story in that video? No, it looks good, looks good on video, adds good energy, makes everybody feel good, and gets everybody hyped up, but it doesn’t tell your story.
Most of the film is going to be centered around telling the story of the bride and groom, talking about y’all, showing y’all, and having some of that dancing in there looks really cool, but it’s not going to makeup, I mean, we don’t need three or four hours of dancing. So if you have four or five hours of dance floor coverage, just know that your photographers and videographers won’t be taking photos or video the whole time, there’s going to be a lot of standing around just because there’s no sense in taking all this footage and having to store it and sort through it. It extends not only our storage requirements, but it also extends our editing time because we have to sort through all that, we have to go through tons of footage, especially if it’s just dancing.
We’ll mostly be focused on capturing what we need, as opposed to just shooting to just shoot. I would say have us there until the end of the last major event, and if that last major event happens before the dance floor opens, let’s say, hey, you can leave at the cake cutting, but the dance floor has not opened yet, you may want us to stay a few minutes into the dance floor opening. That way we get some of those nice shots, and it doesn’t have to be long, literally two or three songs are usually enough to get some people out there.
Also, the other thing to think about is, if you have us leave late, late, because you want more dancing on it, dancing sometimes further on in the evening, the dance floor can kind of die down some, or people may be out there and they may be really drunk, and sometimes that dancing doesn’t look as good as it did in the very beginning, because people just tend to get a little bit sloppy on the dance floor. I guess that’s the only real way I know how to put it, it just doesn’t look as aesthetically pleasing, some of the dancing, for the video perspective.
I always tell people, hey, if you’re good with having a fake exit, have a fake exit, and that way you can get your vendors out of there, and then get everybody out on the dance floor after that because once the cameras are gone, you’d be surprised how many people actually show up because they just didn’t want to be photoed or videoed on the dance floor. Especially older parents, and older couples, they’re not all about the cameras typically. The generation around my age or potentially your age getting married, you just want to have a happy dance floor, and have people out there, sometimes the cameras have to go away.
So anyways, coverage though, have them at the beginning or 30 minutes before the end of prep, you can have them earlier than that too, it’s just, in my opinion, 30 minutes before prep is plenty. If you want an hour before prep, totally cool. Two to three hours before you’re finished getting ready, that’s a little bit excessive, especially for video, and for photos too, but especially for video. I would have us there up for everybody’s finish getting ready, have us there, or whoever, have whoever there, till the end of the last major event, and then take that time span.
Coverage is consecutive, and sometimes we have to explain that to certain brides because they want to save money. And they’re like, “Well, we’re doing the ceremony at 1:00, it’ll be done by 3:00. And then we’re starting a reception at 4:00, but nothing’s really have happened till 6:00, so can you leave at 3:00 and come back at 6:00, and then do 6:00 to 9:00?” That’s called splitting coverage, and we don’t do that because there’s not enough time, typically, for us. I mean, it’s not like we can go home, and even if we did, we’re going to have to turn around and come back out if we went home during that time, so we’re probably just going to end up sitting in our car if we did that. It just doesn’t make sense because we can’t go shoot another wedding between those windows, so when you book your coverage expect to have consecutive coverage, whether you’re using it or not, from whenever we get there to whenever we end, that is the block of coverage.
That is usually, like I said, usually six or eight hours of work. If you’re having a wedding in the winter when the days are shorter, especially in the United States, for example, I talked about this in the other video, about having a fake exit. If you’re having your ceremony, it gets dark here like right before 5:00 right now, and this is December. If you get married at 3:00 or 4:00, have a sunset ceremony, and your reception’s going to 11:00, that’s a lot of dancing, that’s a really long reception. You may want to have a fake exit around 8:00 or 9:00, and you can still party till 11:00, but I would recommend having a fake exit around 8:00 or 9:00, that way you could have your coverage from about 12 to eight-ish, or 12:30 to 8:30, and then you can still party till 11:00.
Just know that after that last major event there’s nothing else that video needs, there’s nothing else that photography needs, and there’s not much video footage in dance photos that you’re going to look at and watch, because you’d be surprised how much footage we actually get and how many photos we actually get during that hour, per se. Hour, two hours, three hours, because that’s all we do, that’s all we’re focused on. So if there’s no other major events happening, then we’re just watching the dance floor waiting for some cool stuff to happen or making sure we get photos of the right people, et cetera.
Hours are covered, six to eight standard, find what works for you. If you have any questions or you want to talk to me about it, I’m totally happy to talk you about it, give any recommendations, and insights as well, from someone that does this full-time, to give you the best wedding experience, whether you want to book us or not. It’s not about that. We want you to be happy with your experience, and happy with your wedding, and I understand it can be stressful planning a wedding when you’ve never, maybe never got married, or you maybe you’re planning a wedding from a different location than the location you’re actually getting married in, so you may be unfamiliar with the market, et cetera. So happy to help however I can, if you have any questions, again, feel free to reach out to me. My name is Dalton Young, and we will talk to you soon.
Photography/Videography: Dalton Young Weddings