A Wedding Day Photography Timeline Guide
A wedding is a whirlwind of events, and it will be over before you know it. An organized wedding day photography timeline is the most important part of planning. If you are looking to effectively plan out your wedding day with your wedding coordinator or fiancé, here’s a look at how long things typically take from the photography perspective.
I am here to help assist you in planning out your wedding day photography timeline, so that you don’t miss a thing. Please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll be glad to help you create a schedule to make things go smoothly.
As a client, you will receive a Wedding Day Questionnaire and a final consultation meeting. A few weeks before your wedding, we will have your final meeting (or video chat) to talk over all your wedding details in your Questionnaire including: locations, family members, special wedding day events, timing, group photos, vendors and much more. This information will ensure we are all on the same page for an unforgettable and stress-free event!
A general guide for creating a wedding day photography schedule
BRIDE GETTING READY PORTRAITS: 60+ MINUTES
We generally plan for 60 minutes of getting ready photos to document candids, any details you want photographed, you getting into your dress, and any touch ups to hair and makeup. You may want to add additional time here if you’d like photos at the salon, or if you have a large amount of detail items you want photographed before you get dressed.
GROOM GETTING READY PORTRAITS: 30-60 MINUTES
Grooms, may or may not need/want as much time for getting ready photo as brides. Enough time to capture plenty of candids, tying ties, and any possible small details. These could be items such as cuff links, handwritten vows or an heirloom pocket watch. Don’t forget to add in time for pinning boutonnières and gathering belongings. Additional time may be need for traveling to the next location.
TIP: Learn how to tie a bow tie before the day of. Looking up a youtube video day-of doesn’t count! 😉
TRAVEL TIME: ADD MORE THAN YOU THINK
When multiple people are traveling together, it always takes more time than you think to get everyone together and ready to go. If taking separate vehicles, add even more time for everyone to arrive and find parking. Better to over-plan how long it will take than not to plan enough time.
TIP: Hiring a transportation service can alleviate stress on you and your bridal party and family. It can also help keep everyone on schedule.
FIRST LOOK: 15-30 MINUTES
If you are planning a first look, allow about 15 minutes for it to be set up and photographed. Additional time can be used here to take more portraits of you two together. After a first look, and if time allows, bridal party and even some family photos can be done at this time, prior to the ceremony (see suggested times below for Bridal Party and Couple Portraits). Just be sure all needed individuals know how early to be dressed and ready for these portraits.
TIP: Encourage bridal party and family members to give you privacy during you first look moment. I think it should be just for you two. It will feel more natural and authentic without an audience.
CEREMONY: 5-90 MINUTES
Ceremonies will vary in length depending on the type of service you are having. Add a few extra minutes when planning your wedding schedule to avoid running late if this goes longer than planned. Please account for your photographer to have at least 15 minutes prior to your ceremony to prep and connect with the Officiant or Venue Coordinator. With no receiving line, you can expect it to take 10-15 minutes for people to exit the area before starting formal group portraits, if the same area is desired for these photos.
RECEIVING LINE: 30-45+ MINUTES
A wedding receiving line for up to 150 will take about 30 minutes. Add 15 minutes for each additional 100 people in attendance at the wedding. Yes, it really will take this long. Decide in advance if parents will be a part of the receiving line; this could add more time. If you prefer not to do a receiving line after the ceremony, make sure to have a plan and hide somewhere out of sight or you will end up with an impromptu receiving line.
TIP: Be sure to tell your bridal party to hang out away from the line or they may accidentally become apart of it.
FORMAL FAMILY GROUP PORTRAITS: 20-40 MINUTES
Plan for 2-3 minutes per photo for each combination of people, or 5-10 minutes for groups of 12 or more people. We will be working off of a list provided by you, but most people include parents, siblings, grandparents, and any others who have played a significant role in their lives. Most people have 8-12 group combinations and take about 20 minutes. If any portions of your families have couples who are separated or divorced, that’s ok! Just note that this will add a few more groupings, and a little more time.
TIP: Always be sure to let your photographer know about any important family dynamics. Keep in mind I am meeting ALL of your family for the first time on your wedding day. The last thing I want to do is inadvertently make someone feel uncomfortable. I always strive to be respectable and promise to keep any and all information confidential. 😉
WEDDING & BRIDAL PARTY PHOTOS: 15-30 MINUTES
Wedding Party photos take from 15-30 minutes depending on how many variations of groupings you want us to take. We suggest planning about 30 minutes for 2-3 full wedding party photos, photos of each side/group together, and a photo of you and each of your wedding party members alone. Add travel time if necessary.
TIP: Make sure all Bouquets and Boutonnières have arrived prior to wedding party photos, and that they are with or on their respective persons.
COUPLE PORTRAITS: 10-60 MINUTES
I like to treat this time as if it’s a date for the two of you. It’s one of the few times during the day that you’ll be alone. My relaxed approach to portraits gives you time to enjoy the fact that you are finally married. I can do these comfortably in as little as 30 minutes, but many couples schedule in additional time to get a larger variety of photos and have a little more time alone together on the day of the wedding. Because I want you to look as relaxed and natural as possible in these photos, we ask that no one else accompany us during this time. (If you have a long train or veil, and feel your maid of honor would be helpful, have her join us!) These can be done after a first look or after the ceremony. We can also plan on sunset or night photos, if you like these too.
COCKTAIL HOUR COVERAGE: 60 MINUTES
All or part of this time may be used for photos, if they were not done prior to the ceremony (Couple, Bridal Party and/or Family Portraits). Additionally, this time can be used for gathering more informal groups of friends for quick photos of cousins, high school or college friends. It is also a perfect time for lots of candids. As your photographer, I will also use this time to capture detail photos of your reception space, before guests are allowed to enter. So if you want these detail photographs, please keep this in mind.
RECEPTION COVERAGE: 30 MINUTES – 4 HOURS
The introductions, first dances and toasts generally take 30 minutes. Dinner service usually takes 1 hour. Cake cutting and parent dances can take about 15-20 minutes. While 60 minutes is generally enough to capture open dance floor, you may choose to have me stay later if you expect it to be a lively party (and really love dance floor action photos), or if you want to take a little time to do some night photography. Another factor to consider is if you plan on having a formal reception exit. Please plan for an additional 10-20 minutes for this to be organized and executed.
This wedding day photography timeline guide provides general estimates, and every wedding day is unique in it’s own way. Some schedules will vary if you have hired one photographer or two. I am all about making your wedding day as stress-free as possible. It may seem like I am allotting a lot of time for each part of the day, but doing this gives everyone a bit of buffer room. It’s better to have a couple extra minutes of downtime, than it is to cut out photos you wanted because there was not enough time.
What did you think of my wedding day photography timeline schedule? This is part of The Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide you can find here.
If you’re looking for a Worcester Massachusetts or New England wedding photographer, please send me a message via the contact form below.