bride and groom portrait with Chancellors Hotel in the background

How Many Wedding Photos Should I Get?

I’m often asked how many photos will be delivered at different coverage durations, and despite having photographed over 500 weddings, it’s tricky to give an exact answer.

I’m writing this as a wedding photographer who typically works alone at weddings. If you hire two wedding photographers, or a wedding team covering both photos and film you can expect the number of wedding images delivered in your final wedding gallery to be higher.

Guest Numbers

The number of photos delivered is heavily influenced by guest numbers, and the specific events on the wedding day. A wedding with 130 guests will produce more photos than one with 30 guests.

Wedding Type

I recently photographed a 2-day Scottish-Nepalese fusion wedding. Both days were 4 hours of coverage and both included ceremony, group photos and candids. 630 photos were delivered from day 1, whereas 870 were delivered from day 2 as the ceremony on day 2 was longer and had more variety of specific events within the ceremony, so that naturally resulted in more photos. I’ve found the weddings that produce the most photos are asian weddings. I was based in Manchester for 12 years and photographed many Chinese weddings. With door games that start at 6:30am, guest numbers around 300, and a high number of group photos, not to mention outfit changes for the couple, I’d typically deliver over 900 wedding images for a Chinese wedding.

Wedding Activities

Like many wedding photographers, I love capturing lots of natural candid moments during the drinks reception. There are only so many photos that can be taken of guests enjoying this part of the day though. So whether it’s 20 minutes or 2 hours, this may not influence photo quantity that much. What can increase it though (and provide some fun entertainment for guests) is having drinks reception activities.

jenga at a wedding at Chancellors

These could include lawn games, table games like jenga, or fete style bag toss or ring toss games. I am able to deliver more photos when guests are participating in activities.

Pro Tip: Let your wedding photographer know in advance about any activities you have planned for the drinks reception

guests enjoy summer fete games like hoopla
bride & groom on bouncy castle at spring house hotel

Wedding Day Events

The events of a wedding day are not distributed evenly. 3 hours of coverage of bridal prep may produce only 50-100 photos, whereas the following 3 hours may produce over 300 photos.

The part of a wedding day where most of the photos are taken is around the ceremony, so guest arrival, wedding ceremony, candids of the couple and guests after the ceremony followed by group photos and couple portraits. Whilst additional coverage may cover more events of the day, like speeches, the number of photos per hour is significantly lower outside of this 1.5-3 hour window.

Pro Tip: Allowing a little more time in the busiest part of the day will result in a less-pressured and more relaxed vibe, allowing you to take your time chatting with guests and enjoying your drinks reception. It also gives your wedding photographer more time to be creative.

Wedding Day Weather

On particularly wet days, I’ve had some couples who have not wanted to go outside for portraits. This can impact the number of photos delivered. I’d encourage couples to embrace whatever the weather does, as this can lead to some dramatic portrait photos.

Like many photographers, I have umbrellas in my car, so check in with your chosen wedding photographer before you buy any in a last minute panic.

bride & groom portrait in rain by karen julia

Details & Styling

If your wedding features more detailed styling AND there’s enough time allowed for the photographer to photograph this part of the day, this can difinitely increase volume of photos delivered.

I find not all couples are interested in having details photographed though, so it’s best to share your views with your photographer in advance.

wedding breakfast room details at Townhouse Hotel Manchester

Wedding Party

The evening reception party can really vary in terms of photo quantity. From 19 years of photographing weddings, the biggest influence I’ve found for how active the dancefloor is is the heat on the wedding day. I’ve photographed weddings during heatwaves and by the evening reception, the energy in the room can be a little lacking. It also depends how much your wedding guests like a dance, and how good your wedding host or DJ is. Also, if your first dance starts too late, wedding guests can start leaving before the party gets started, so I’d highly encourage you to plan for a relatively early start without a big gap at the start of the evening, as that keeps the momentum of the day flowing, and results on a busier dancefloor, which in turn results in a higher quantity of photos in your wedding gallery.

Quality VS Quantity

I personally deliver every photo that is not a duplicate, so I don’t have a set number that I adhere to. My personal view is that coverage is more about covering all the important aspects of a wedding day, and delivering photos that tell that full story of the day, rather than aim for a specific number.

Up to 3 Hours Coverage: 200-300+

I trialed offering really short coverage of 1.5hrs during 2020, but I’ve found there’s not a big difference in quantity of photos delivered between 1.5 hours of coverage and 3 hours of coverage. This is because typically the same events are covered, but just spread out a bit more. A slightly longer duration allows a bit more time for creativity and to be able to add variety to couple portraits.

My editing time is pretty similar too, which is typically up to 12 hours.

The shortest wedding I photographed was a duration of 41 minutes, and this couple had 150 photos delivered in their wedding gallery. The editing time was approx 8 hours.

I’d usually deliver 200+ photos from up to 3 hours of photography coverage for a small wedding. It would likely be nearer 300 photos for an average size 80-person wedding..

Up to 6 Hours Coverage: 400-500+

For this range of coverage, additional events are covered which are usually speeches and part of the evening reception. I find with this increased duration, I also photograph more candid photos of guests, as well as informal group photos.

My editing time for 6 hours of coverage is typically around 20 hours.

I’d usually deliver 500+ photos from 6 hours of photography coverage. This may be a lower 400 for smaller weddings, or higher for large weddings.

Up to 9 Hours Coverage: 600-700+

A duration of this length would typically involve morning preparations as well as additional coverage in the evening. This would include dancefloor shenanigans as well as possibly some sunset or late evening portraits.

bride and groom sunflare portrait at Chancellors Hotel
Geeky Rainy Castlefield Rooms Wedding Photography

For a small wedding, I’d typically deliver over 600 photos. For a larger wedding that would typically be over 700 photos.

My editing time for 9 hours of coverage is typically around 20-30 hours.

To summarize, I think they key thing to focus on is coverage of wedding day events rather than specific photo number. the best way to ensure your photographer can get as much out of the day as possible is to share your plans with them in advance. That way, they will be kept in the loop and able to get the best possible coverage of your wedding day.

I include planning meetings with every couple. This involves having a zoom meeting to chat ideas and timings for things like group photos and couple portraits, and a visit to the venue as well. I also have a quick catch up with couples one week before the wedding over the phone or zoom to go over final details.