Most couples invest a substantial amount of time in planning their wedding and it can become a bit overwhelming to attempt to figure out how long everything takes. The following timeline will help guide you through what I consider to be the ideal photography timeline. Although some of the timing may seem a bit long, there is always an added time cushion – just in case things fall behind. This list will help you make the very most of your wedding photography investment.
Not planning on a First Look? Don’t worry – most of the timing will still apply to you, just in a different order!
Details 45 minutes
Every bride loves having those beautiful shots of her bridal details. Your dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations…it’s all a part of your story. These shots allow me to get warmed up for the rest of the day and the end results really add a fantastic touch that is just so worth it! While I’m shooting details, I’m also capturing some shots of the bride and her girls getting ready.
Prep 30 minutes
After the details have been photographed, it’s time to get the bride into her dress! I usually ask the mother of the bride and bridesmaids to be dressed by this time (don’t worry, I let them know ahead of time when to be ready), as well as making sure there is a clear space, preferably near a window. This ensures that everyone will look amazing in the photos and that there isn’t any clutter in the backgrounds. Once the bride is in her gown, she can put on her jewelry, shoes, veil, etc. and I will shoot additional bridal portraits.
First Look 15 minutes
One of my favorite parts of the wedding day! Don’t stress on where you should go, I’ll have that all planned out before hand. I’ll be sure to select a private, secluded area so you will have your special moment alone.
Bride and Groom Portraits 30 minutes
After the First Look, I will begin taking a few portraits while the emotion and excitement are still present. These locations will also be decided on early in the day, depending on lighting. At this time, bridal party may start to gather for portraits.
Bridal Party Portraits 30 minutes
To help save on time, please be sure the bridesmaids have their bouquets and the groomsmen have their boutonnieres on before arriving for portraits. This time will be used to take awesome shots of the guys and girls, both separately and together. Scheduling bridal party portraits prior to the ceremony is a huge bonus for your attendants! Instead of lining up for photos after the ceremony, they will be able to head straight to cocktails and get ready for the party!
Bride in Hiding 30 minutes
Once these photos are complete, the bride will hide so that early guests don’t sneak a peek. Take this time to grab some water, sit down, and relax.
Reception Details 15 minutes
If the reception is at the same location as the ceremony, I will use this time to photograph your reception décor – untouched. If the ceremony and reception are in different locations, I recommend having a cocktail hour outside of the main reception area, if possible so that I can grab some great shots of the room and décor before the night begins and guests start laying down purses and drinks.
Ceremony 30-40 minutes
It’s time to get married! Most ceremony average to be about 3-400 minutes, for longer ceremonies we’ll just make adjustments to the timeline. Cherish these moments – the ceremony will go by so quickly!
Family Portraits 20 minutes
Family portraits normally take place immediately following the ceremony. It’s best to save all of the family formals until after the ceremony because all family members will be present at that time. Your final detail form will include a questionnaire for you to list out specific shots you would like.
Bride & Groom Sunset Portraits 5-7 minutes
This is the BEST time of day for portraits in late spring and summer! The sun is golden and romantic. A few extra minutes with the bride and groom during this time is such an amazing bonus to your wedding day photos!
Cocktail Hour 15-20 minutes
By planning and organizing ahead of time, formal photographs will be completed quickly. You will end up with time to join your cocktail hour and try out the appetizers you’ve been drooling over.
Reception end photo coverage 60-90 minutes before the end of the night
Time to celebrate! I’ll spend this time to focus on the overall excitement of the couple, bridal party, and guests. I include 8 hours of coverage so that I can be present for the main events of the reception and about an hour of dancing. Of course, you are welcome to add additional coverage or to plan for events to occur prior to your end of coverage.