Do wedding photographers stay for the whole reception?

How long do you really want your wedding photographer around on your wedding day?

If you’re planning your wedding, you might be wondering how long you should book your photographer for. Do you need them to capture every moment of your big day, from getting ready to the last dance? Or can you save some money by letting them go after the cake cutting and the first dances?


The answer depends on several factors, such as your budget, your timeline, your preferences, and your photographer’s style. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but here are some things to consider when deciding how long to hire your wedding photographer for.



Hiring a professional photographer is not cheap, and most of them charge by the hour or by the package. If you have a tight budget, you might want to limit the hours of coverage to the most important parts of your wedding, such as the ceremony and the portraits. However, if you have some room in your budget, you might want to splurge on extra hours to capture more candid moments and details of your reception.



Your wedding timeline will also affect how long you need your photographer for. If you have a long gap between your ceremony and reception, this is often used for wedding portraits, but that means the hours you have left in your package after that point might be more limited, and you might not need your photographer to stay for the whole reception. On the other hand, if you have a tight schedule and want to fit in a lot of activities, you might want your photographer to be there for every minute.



Ultimately, it’s your wedding and your choice. You should think about what kind of photos you want to have as memories of your special day. Do you want a lot of posed shots with your family and friends, or do you prefer more natural and spontaneous photos? Do you want to document every detail of your decor, food, and entertainment, or do you only care about the highlights? Do you want to have photos of your grand exit, or are you fine with ending the coverage after the first dance?

Photographer’s Style


Finally, you should also consider your photographer’s style and approach. Some photographers are more discreet and unobtrusive, while others are more interactive and directive. Some photographers specialize in capturing emotions and stories, while others focus on aesthetics and creativity. Some photographers offer full-day coverage as part of their packages, while others charge extra for overtime. If they do offer full day coverage make sure you clarify in your contract exactly what “full-day” coverage means. It may not be as clear as you think it is. You should talk to your photographer and see what they recommend based on their experience and expertise.


In conclusion, there is no definitive answer to whether wedding photographers stay for the whole reception or not. It depends on what you want, what you can afford, and what your photographer offers. The most important thing is to communicate clearly with your photographer and make sure you’re on the same page about your expectations and needs. 

At March81 Photography we often find our couples opt for something in-between. We are at the reception, most often for the first half hour or so of the open dancing portion of the reception. This allows for some candid photos of your party and yet, leaves that incriminating drunken party picture to your friend’s cellphone.  We’d love to chat with you more about what you’re dream wedding would be!  CONTACT US TODAY

Candid wedding photos, reception dancing pictures from above with bride and groom surrounded by guests all dancing. Wedding Venue The Cheney Place in Grand Rapids, MI. Wedding photography by March81 Photography.

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MIchael and Jennifer at the beach portrait of West Michigan Wedding Photographers, owners of March81 Photography