How long should we plan for wedding photos?

August 23, 2013  •  7 Comments

  I wanted to write a quick post on some Questions I get asked all the time from wedding couples....

First and foremost I get asked how long will pictures take?? Well... that's a loaded question kinda! : ) I say the longer you give me the more unique and creative your photos will be. Also you will get more great photos over all. I also want my brides to plan a little longer for photos then they think it will take, that way if someones running a little behind it gives us a little wiggle room for photos without making everything and everyone else late.

 My suggestion is this... 1 hour for bride and groom shots, and I highly suggest these are done without anyone else present so that the bride and groom can feel completely comfortable. They can focus on each other, the moment and my instructions without getting distracted by well meaning relatives that are excited also! : )

 1 hour for entire wedding party photos, like bride and bridesmaids, groom and groomsmen... etc. And then 1 hour for the family formals. This ends up being a total of 3 hours set aside specifically for wedding photography! If you would like more creative photographs of the bride and groom a little more time can always be added.

  I also suggest taking most if not all of the photos before the ceremony if possible, if you are not planning on seeing each other before the ceremony, then I would like to get as many taken as we can before and save maybe just the family photos where both bride and groom are in the photos for after the ceremony. So all the bridal portraits, bride with her family and groom with his family etc. would be done before the ceremony. The reason is because the bride and groom will feel more refreshed, makeup is better and everyone isn't feeling rushed to get to the reception so as not to leave guests too long without the wedding party.

 Here's an example wedding timeline:

 9:00 bridal preparation, 10:00 Bride getting into dress and groom getting ready, 11:00 First Look and Bride and Groom shots, 12:30 Wedding Party photos, 1:30 Family formals, 2:30 Everyone relax, 3:00 Ceremony, 4:00 Creative photos of Bride and Groom at another location, 5:00 Cocktail hour and reception decoration details, 6:00 Meal and Toasts, 7:00 Cake Cutting, 8:00 Dance Starts, 8:30 bouquet Toss, 9:00 Garter Toss and leaving for Honeymoon!

 This brings me to the second question I would like to touch bases on, the bouquet and garter toss and the leaving for the honeymoon! Things have changed in the last several years and DJ's are now being put in charge of the bouquet and garter toss. Here's the deal, I only stay for the first hour of the dance to get photos of the first dances unless the couple have added extra coverage to their wedding collection. Therefore it MUST be conveyed to the DJ that the bouquet and garter toss must be done within the first hour of the dance if the bride and groom want photos of those events.

 I'm finding more and more that the DJ's are dragging these two events out and I don't end up photographing them. I've asked DJ's to please announce the bouquet and garter toss as the couple would like photos of them and either the DJ agrees and then doesn't do it, or they bluntly say no! They like to wait till 10:00 or even 11:00 for the bouquet and garter toss! So it is up to my bride and groom to make it VERY clear to the DJ or whoever is in charge of these events to have them done within the first hour of the dance if you would like them photographed.

 Same thing with the leaving photos whether bird seed throwing, bubble blowing or sparklers.... it must be done at the end of the first hour of the dance to get these awesome shots!! ( unless otherwise agreed upon before the reception ) If you don't want to leave the reception that early a good idea is to fake leaving to get these photos and then come back to party the night away with your guests!!! : )


Sounds good :) And you're totally right about the bouquet & garter toss. I actually had a bride totally forget about it, and we had to remind her. It should all be done earlier in the reception.
Autumn Rudolph(non-registered)
Great tips!
Ashley Durham Photography(non-registered)
Great post!
So much photo time. That sounds lovely! :) (for some reason we always end up with waaaay less)
Leon Bailey(non-registered)
Yep 1 hour! Good post. Every photographer should have something like this. :)
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