The number one question I get asked by new couples is “How much time do we need for wedding photography?”.
If your wedding timeline goes exactly as planned, you are the minority. I always tell my couples, expect the unexpected and be prepared!
Getting married is new to most people, as an experienced wedding photographer I’ve met with many prospective wedding couples over the years, when it comes to photography I’ve heard the same questions repeated over and over again. How much time is needed before & after the ceremony for photography? I’ll try to break this down as best I can.
Pre Ceremony “Getting ready photos”
This includes all the special moments with your wedding party & family leading up to the walk down the aisle!
Detail shots– "Yes I want all the detail!" (Minimum 20 Minutes)
Dress, Shoes, Bouquet, rings etc
The Jewelry. This may include a family heirloom, a gift from your groom or someone special in your life.
So you see where I am headed. The list goes on and on. If you want detail photos, you have to allow time for them. We need a minimum of 20 minutes.
**TIP** Ask a bridesmaid to gather all of these items prior to the photographer arriving so they are ready to photograph and aren’t spending time locating these items.
Make a list of the detail items in advance that you would like to have photographed. This way you aren’t trying to remember everything the day of. This will not only save time, it will insure that you get the detail photos you want.
Allow at least 30 minutes for the photographer to get these photos. These are moments you will never get back. Mom helping you with your dress & dad seeing you for the first time. These memories need to be captured. When I can get a shot of dad wiping a tear after he sees his beautiful daughter in her wedding gown, I feel I’m doing my job. You must allow time for this though. So many times I arrive and the bride is already dressed and ready for formal photos. That’s wonderful if you want traditional, posed wedding photography, but not if you want to document the story of the day through your photos.
**TIP** Be sure to allow your makeup artist and hairstylist plenty of time to do their job. If they feel they will be cutting it close, ask them do your hair and makeup first so the photographer can start your formal photos. You will be in all of the formal photos, it does no good to have your family and bridesmaids ready when you aren’t. You can always get "touch ups" after photos.
This is a great time for candid photos. Bridesmaids getting dressed. Toasts. Grandparents seeing the bride for the first time. The Flower girl running around the room pretending to be a princess. These are all moments that should be captured. These are memories that you will relive through your photographs the rest of your life. (Minimum of 30 minutes)
**TIP** Try to keep the bridal room as clutter free as possible. Having deodorant and empty boxes in the room will certainly take away from the photo. I know its impossible to keep it totally clutter free when 12 ladies are getting dressed in one small room, but if at all possible, keep all of that in one corner of the room or in a closet.
Groom Candid Photos
If you want candid’s of the groom prior to the ceremony, make sure to factor in time for him as well. If there are two photographers working your wedding (and there should be), the other photographer can sneak over to the groom’s room and take some photos of the guys if they are getting dressed at the same location (which I highly recommend.) :-) (15 minutes)
Bridal Portraits! Lets face it, this day is about you, the bride. This is YOUR day. If you want gorgeous photos of you with glamorous lighting, you have to give the photographer time. Its not all about the location, its about the perfect lighting. This isn’t something we like to rush through. We want your photos to be as stunning as you are on your wedding day. Minimum of 30 minutes
Pre-Wedding Formals with Family
When I meet with couples, I give them a questionnaire that lists every combination imaginable. This is a very useful tool. It insures that you get the photos you want. Having said that, I would limit the photos of you alone with various family members to immediate family. You will want photos with you new husband and extended family after the ceremony so it may be overkill to do both. It also takes time to gather these family members and most likely will arrive shortly before the ceremony. (15 minutes for family photos)
These are always fun and really fast. We try to take several cute, posed shots and at least one fun shot.
**TIP** If you have something in mind for a “fun” photo, let the photographer know! Otherwise we will give you some ideas, but if you already know what you want or are willing to do (in a dress & heels) it will save some time. (15 minutes)
Groom Formal Portraits, Groom w/ Family & Groomsmen
For the groom alone we like to have around (15 minutes) Groom with family & groomsmen (20-30 minutes) (Total 45 minutes)
“Do we see each other before or not?”
I get this question a lot. I learned recently this tradition started because of pre arranged marriages and they didn’t want either the bride or the groom “running away”. Seriously. I always thought it had to do with superstition. Not the case. If you want to see each other before the ceremony, that does get you to your reception earlier, but we take the same amount of photos regardless. Should you decide to see each other before, we recommend a “first look” photo. (See below)
Depending on what type of ceremony you are having, it could last 20 minutes to 2 hours. Your officiator should give you this information.
After Ceremony Formals
The dreaded posed formals. Never discount the formals, to many people they are a drag but to your grandparents and parents, they are gold! In these photos people will often come together that have never met, not seen each other in years and in many cases will never see each other again. They might not be the most exciting pictures but as the years go on you will become very fond of them.
This is where that list I was telling you about earlier can be a very useful tool. We can move much faster if we have a list that we can check out as we go along. Depending on your list this could take 15 - 30 minutes.
**TIP** Make a point to tell your family in advance to remain in place for these photos. It will take longer if someone has to go grab uncle Bob at the bar.
**TIP** It’s very important that the rest of your guests go to cocktail hour during this time. They will want to visit with you and offer congratulations but that will cut into the photography or make you late entering your reception.
If you want those awesome reception detail photos of your reception room prior to guests entering, please allow the photographers time to take these. (10 minutes)
COUPLE and WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS!
These are our favorite! If it looks like its going to rain or get dark, we will push these up before the family photos. We can always photograph those undercover with flash later. We would LOVE to have an hour for couple photos. I understand that we normally can’t have an hour, but if you truly want stunning photos, the more time we have the better! These are largely the photos that made you hire your photographer in the first place. Let your photographer be brilliant for you! (1 hour)
**TIP** Ask someone in your wedding party grab a drink for you while we begin your couple photos.
**TIP** I recommend taking a few minutes to yourself and even eating alone before making your entrance to the reception. If you find that you are running out of time in your package, go ahead and take care of these formalities.
You definitely want professional photos of these formalities.
The short of it, in my experience 8 hours covers the average wedding perfectly. I know not everyone can fit 8 hours of photography into their budget, but the more time a photographer has, the more beautiful your images will be!
If you remember nothing else, remember this...Breathe, take it all in, it goes by in a flash!