How much time do I need for my photos at my wedding?
Frequently Used Words in this post:
Family Formals: The traditional photos everyone usually hates at weddings, tend to be taken at church altars.
Bridal Party: Bride/Groom/Bridesmaids/Groomsmen/Flower Girls/Ushers/Ring Bearers/Jr Bridesmaids
This is a great question that many brides have. I have a formula that works most of the time. This is a great way to plug in numbers if you're wondering how many wedding hours you need as well! Unfortunately, since all weddings are unique this might not work for every wedding.
If you and your groom are seeing each other before the wedding... here's what you can do to set up a basic timeline. I include "bubble time" within this schedule. Basically "bubble time" is time that I don't necessarily need to take the photos but I would like to have in case things are running behind. Your wedding isn't going to run perfectly on time, especially if you're relying on a massive bridal party to be ready, etc. There's always factors you have to consider... your hair/makeup running behind (your bridesmaids/mom leaving you at the salon because they forgot you don't have your car), someone leaving something behind at their house (ie the groom's tux)... anything can happen. :) But if you have bubble time within your schedule, you'll be prepared for those things and everything will run smoothly!
When thinking about how much time you need for your wedding photos, here are the questions you should ask yourself first.
- Am I seeing my groom before the ceremony?
- Are we doing our photos before the ceremony?
- Are we going to do our bridal party photos before the ceremony?
- Are we going to do our family formals before the ceremony?
Once you have answered all those questions, you can start to get a basic schedule in place for your wedding day. This is perfect in case you need to know when to schedule your hair and makeup appointments and things like that.
Get a piece of paper. Pen. Sharpie. I prefer sharpie.
Start with your ceremony start/end time. Things to consider:
Traditional Christian ceremony: Allot 30 mins (even if it only is a 10 or 20 min ceremony, if all else goes perfect and you don't need the extra time, you will be running ahead of schedule - and that is UH-MAZING!)
Full Mass - Hour and a half (just to be on the safe side)
Not a full mass - 45 mins
Basically if you think your ceremony is only going to last 20 mins add 20 mins.
I would always suggest the bride and groom seeing each other before the ceremony and doing all the photos prior to the ceremony. If you don't want to do all the photos prior to the ceremony, just do the bride and groom and bridal party and save the family formals for afterwards. This will guarantee you PLENTY of time to party and you won't leave your guests waiting forever. Now this is your wedding day and I know that some people like to stick to tradition, hey... totally cool, we have some tips if you want to do it that way too! :)
Getting Ready- You don't need 3 hours for getting ready. Here's the situation we run into as photographers... you want us to shoot your 3 hour getting ready period... your bridesmaids who have their hair looking like they just stuck their finger into an electrical outlet do not. They unless otherwise intoxicated by yummy mimosas, tend to turn into bridesmaid-zillas and we just have to say ohhhh ok, ummm I'm going to go over here. :) No bueno. Rather, you could have an hour to an hour and a half and I think this is perfect. The only person I would want to be shooting from beginning to end is the bride, but some brides don't even think that's necessary. So this just depends on you. If you hate yourself without makeup or your hair done, honey, you're not going to like those photos on your wedding day.
Bridesmaids/Bride photos- These typically I can do in about a half hour. I would love to have 45 mins to do these just to be safe, but if all else fails I can do them in under a half hour, so half hour it is. Now that time can change depending on how many bridesmaids you have. It's going to take me a lot less time to shoot you and 3 bridesmaids than it would you and 7 bridesmaids.
Groom/Groomsmen - Same rule applies as the bride/bridesmaids.
Bride and Groom- If you are seeing each other before hand, the reveal takes about 15 mins. We usually give you a few mins after you first see each other to just be in the moment. From there we go into bride and groom, I could shoot bride and groom FOREVER, the min amount of time I'd want is 15, the max ... shooooooot 4 hours? lol. My couples, I normally schedule 35 mins - 1 hour, is average depending on the wedding details.
Family Formals - These are for your immediate family only. Here's who we would include in that category:
- Bride & Groom
- Your Parents/Grandparents/ Great Grandparents/Siblings
- Your Children
- Sibling Spouses & Their Children
- Any step relatives (ie parents, siblings, grandparents)
We set aside half hour for these photos, and it normally takes us 15-20 mins.
We do have certain families who have had a generational photo since the beginning of time, and we completely understand the need for those photos. If that's the case, just tell your photographer and that will only add on an additional 5 mins depending on the family size. If you have 200 people in your generational shot we will need a PA system and a fog horn. ;)
If you are wanting extended family photos, I think that's a great idea to do at the reception. Your DJ can announce the family last name of who you need and where they should go. VOILA! This makes that photo process so easy, because you're not going around a huge reception hall trying to find Uncle Bob and Aunt Sally after they have already had 4 rounds at the bar.
So let's say, you only have an hour for photos and you are not seeing each other before the ceremony. You would just take out the bubble time. So it would be like this...
- Getting Ready - 1/2 hour
- Bride & Groom - 20 mins
- Family Formals - 30 mins
- Bridal Party - 10 mins
If you only have 10 mins to do bridal party after your ceremony, you would then do all the individual bride and bridesmaids/ groom and groomsmen shots prior to the ceremony. I usually suggest that no matter what schedule you have. If you have less than an hour to shoot all of that, normally that just means you are going to have less bride and groom/bridal party photos.
Things to consider if you have a limited amount of time after your ceremony to do photos:
Are you releasing the guests per row/Receiving Line:
This takes an insane amount of time. Normally 30-45 mins. Even if you don't have that many guests at a wedding, everyone wants to give you a hug and comment about your dress and your hair and the ceremony. It's also awkward for the guests that may not know you because then you have the whole... do I hug them. If I don't hug them, is that rude? But should I hug them, it is their wedding day. Confusion. The same is true for a receiving line and I think those take longer because the parents and bridal party are usually involved, so then you have to add on everyone they know hugging & talking to them. It's an all out hug-fest and you don't want that with angry hungry guests waiting.
As far as wedding hours goes, if you're having a traditional church wedding with the ceremony and reception at the church or at the same venue, 6 hours is usually plenty. If you're having a cocktail hour and dancing, the whole shebang at the same venue, then I would bump that up to 8 hours.
Normally I just say if you're having a Catholic ceremony you need full day coverage upto 10 hours. So far that theory has not proven me wrong. You have a much longer ceremony and normally a longer reception as well. Most of the time Catholic receptions aren't at the same wedding venue, so you have to adjust the schedule for travel time and things like that. :)
*Your photographer more than likely we'll need a half hour prior to the ceremony to do light check, take detail/guest shots/prep time
Here are the min/max amounts of time for certain events throughout the day.
- Getting Ready - 15 mins (if you don't have a lot of coverage) to hour and a 1/2
- The additional time during getting ready is used to shoot the detail shots of the dress, shoes, jewelry, etc. :)
- Bride& Bridesmaids - 15mins - 30 mins.
- Groom & Groomsmen- 15mins -30 mins
Now, the bride&bridesmaids/groom&groomsmen can collectively just take 15 mins if you have two lead photographers shooting on your big day. For instance Pedro might take the guys and I'll take the girls. Shoot at the same time and then come back together and shoot some full bridal party shots. Voila - everything bridal party done in 30 mins.
Full Bridal Party - 15 mins.
The Reveal - 15 mins
B&G- 15 MINS- 1 hour
Here again, the more time you have for these photos, the more photos you get and the more creative your photos will probably be.
Here's what a sample schedule would look like for a wedding starting at 2:30, lasting a half hour. The reception would be a few mins away and they will be doing their photos before hand.
If you are having a full dinner, dancing, tosses, etc - normally 2 hours is a good amount of time to cover everything for the reception. :)
Hopefully this is a good start to give you enough info to plan a tentative schedule of your day. Your photographer will meet with you to get a definite timeline prior to your wedding day, about 1 month before hand.
Do you have any questions about how much time you need for your photos? Just leave a comment with your question and we will help anyway we can!