How much time do you really need for wedding photography?? The wedding timeline can seem like such a mystery (and even a bit intimidating) to brides, since everything that goes into planning a wedding is still so new. Creating the timeline is such an important part of what I do with each couple, and it truly effects your photography. To give you an idea of what to expect and to help you plan, here is an outline going through the entire wedding day. And check out the sample timeline at the bottom of this post!
- Getting Ready
I begin each wedding in the bridal room, and will start by photographing all your details like wedding dress, shoes, rings, invitations, etc., as well as you and your bridesmaids as you get ready. These details are the small cameos that depict the emotion going on in your bridal room (stay tuned to the blog for a post entirely on how to choose and prepare your bridal room and details!) Once your hair and makeup is complete, it’s time to get into the wedding gown! This is one of my top three emotional moments of a wedding day and I love the excitement in that room every time! After all the finishing touches, we will get a few bridal portraits before you see your groom.
Things to consider: It takes about 1.5 hours for this part of the day. Also consider whether or not you are getting ready at the same location as the ceremony. If not, allow for travel time and be conservative so nobody is left rushing. Stress free is always best!
- First Look
Not every couple does a first look, and that’s okay! It is such a personal decision, and I’m always happy to give a helping hand in deciding if it’s the best option for you. About 90% of the couples I work with do choose a first look, and it’s a beautiful moment every. single. time. If you do choose to do a first look, we can also take some portraits of you and your groom, as well as your bridal party. This leaves extra time after the ceremony for you to get to your reception quicker and enjoy that time with guests.
Things to consider: Plan for about 1-1.5 hours for the first look and portraits with bridal party. After portraits, you will want to be in place for the ceremony, about 30 minutes early, where guests can’t see you before you walk down the aisle.
My one piece of advice for your ceremony: walk as slowly as possible down that aisle! This is the moment you’ve always pictured in your head…and yet it is but a fleeting moment, gone entirely to soon. Enjoy it! Most ceremonies last about 30 minutes, but this really varies. If you are getting married in a Church, some services will run longer. If you are having a more traditional religious ceremony, it could be more than an hour or two. The best way to plan for this is to talk to your venue and officiant, as well as family members who may play a key role in maintaining traditions.
A BIG thing to consider: Your ceremony start time is the most set-in-stone part of the day. Lighting is key to beautiful photos, so I recommend starting your ceremony 1.5 hours before sunset. This gives us a gorgeous, warm, glowy light, as well as plenty of daylight left for portraits afterward before the sun goes down.
If you’ve chosen to do a first look, we will have already captured most of the bridal party and bride and groom portraits. This time between ceremony and reception is when we focus on family portraits. I will set aside time during our final consultation to really go into detail about planning these, and how to keep it short and sweet. We will have a plan and a shot list going in, so that nobody is overwhelmed, and everyone can get onto the party as soon as we are done. I’ll also take a few more portraits of you and your (then) husband as newlyweds!
Things to consider: I strive to keep family formals down to 30 minutes to keep everyone happy and keep the day moving along, plus about 15-20 minutes for “just married” photos. I will gladly (oh, so gladly) use any extra time you can give me!
Once the sun has set, portrait time is done, and it’s time to focus on the reception events. The length of a reception varies, and there are a few ways we can go about scheduling the photography. With the majority of my wedding collections, reception coverage is included for a minimum of three hours. We can always extend this time to allow for more coverage by choosing a different collection or adding additional hours to your current collection. However, we can also work out your timeline to be sure all main events happen within those three hours. Things like your first dance, toasts, parent dances, and cake cutting will want to be allotted within that time.
Things to consider: If you’re wanting to include your grand exit (with or without sparklers), we can either add additional time to cover it, or we can simply create a faux exit with your wedding party. You get to go right back to your reception and keep the party going.
When considering everything mentioned above, I find the ideal length of time for wedding photography to be 8 hours, with extra allotted for a longer ceremony, travel time between venues, or extra reception coverage. So much goes into your wedding, and I focus on the storytelling of the day. It may take some extra time, but this gives you the amazing benefit of re-living every moment and every emotion of the day you and your finance become a family.
Here is one more look at a sample wedding timeline. Exact times vary based on season and sunset times, and this should be customized for each wedding. Contact the studio for your custom wedding timeline!
P.S. Let us know…which wedding photos are most important to you? Comment below!