Timeline of Events on Your Wedding Day
As a photographer who has shot weddings of all kinds, I find that most weddings follow a general timeline. To help you plan how much time you need for your photography, I've outlined the sequence of events that I typically encounter so you can use it to plan your own wedding timeline.
It takes longer than you think to capture wedding photographs! This may sound funny, but there are inevitable delays, such as adjusting clothing, gathering family members, and walking from one location to another. I've accounted for these delays in my estimates, which is why they may seem longer than you'd expect.
Bride Getting Ready Shots
Once your makeup and hair is already accomplished, photography coverage often starts with the donning of your wedding dress with your bridesmaids and mother, as well as addition of jewelry, shoes, garter, etc. Plan on this taking 30 to 60 minutes, because there is a good chance there will be last minute things to attend, such as buttons popping off, bathroom breaks, missing garments, hugs and tears, adjustments and, of course, photos!
If you would like to have your makeup and or hair styling photographed, ask your stylists how long they estimate and then add half an hour..
Bride and Bridesmaid Photos
Casual, fun shots with flowers, the bride with each bridesmaid in several pretty spots, and with Mom & Dad. Semi-formal shots. Think 30-45 minutes.
Groom getting ready
Groom and Groomsmen shots start after they are dressed and ready, and include pinning the boutonniere, toasts with props such as wine or beer, sunglasses, or cigars. Casual handsome shots, semi-formal Groom and Groomsmen and parent shots. Think 25-45 minutes.
This ranges greatly depending on your ceremony and vows. Plan accordingly, often 25-60 minutes.
Hugs & Kisses
Your guests will be so excited for you that they'll want to offer you congratulations right after your ceremony; this can easily take 20-60 minutes and you should decide ahead of time whether you want to do formals before these congratulations, or after. Plan on 30-60 minutes for formals depending on the size of your bridal party.
Bridal Couple Photos
Formal couple photos looking at the camera and each other. 15-20 minutes.
Traditional Family Formals
Your family size will determine the time it takes for formal photos. Add more time if you want extended family in the formals (beyond grandparents). Since these are averages, families with more than 2 sets of parents will require more time, and very small families will require less. Typically formals take about 45 minutes.
- Bride & Groom: 15 minutes (allow more time later in the day for additional personal / romantic shots)
- Couple with bride's parents: 5-10 minutes
- Add bride's siblings: 5-10 minutes (with small children, add 5 more minutes)
- Add bride's Grandparents: 5 minutes
- Both families: Ten-fifteen people: add 10 minutes Twenty to thirty people: Add 15 minutes
- Couple with groom's parents: 5 minutes
- Add groom's siblings: 5-10 minutes (with small children, add 5 more minutes)
- Add groom's grandparents: 5 minutes
- Any additional family configurations add 10 minutes per set
- Party shots: Couple with Best Man and Maid of Honor: 10 minutes
- Traditional Party Shots of Groomsmen and Bridesmaids with Newleyweds -15 minutes
Fun Shots with Bridal Party
This is often where you get the most memorable shots, so use your creativity here and think about your location. Everyone else has gone to the cocktail hour so you can have a little fun. Toasts, group jumping, fashion-style-design shots, bride with groomsmen, groom with bridesmaids, etc. As an extra thought, there is interest in real weddings for magazine layouts and it is a nice bonus for you if your wedding party shots end up in your favorite wedding magazine! Plan 10-30 minutes depending on location and ideas.
will be the rest of your photography needs. Plan out you dinner, toasts, cake cut and first dance schedule, as well as some general dancing photos. You will not need your photographer to stay during all of your dancing, but 30-60 minutes of dancing will give you plenty of fun shots of everyone. You can also sneak away for a final couple photo while your guests are having fun on the dance floor.
Once you consider all the components to your wedding day, add up the minutes and you will have a realistic time frame for how long you need your photographer to be there capturing your story. You'll appreaciate the results of your careful planning every time you look at your wedding album and relive your special day.
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