HOW MUCH TIME DO WE NEED FOR PHOTOGRAPHY ON OUR WEDDING DAY?  

Developing a photography timeline isn’t easy.  And I keep updating and fine tuning this section of my FAQ because having enough time on your wedding day for the photography is essential to getting the results that you see on my website and blog.  There is a lot to cover here, so this won’t be a short blog post (grab a cup of tea or coffee).

Here’s what you need to know to start:  1.  Your wedding day will fly by! Really it will, trust me. 2. Weddings run behind schedule (which means less time for photography).  3. My photo sessions are fun.

Before we get into the details, let’s start with a timeline overview.  These are my minimum recommendations on how long photos usually take at a wedding.  If you need help with your timeline, please let me know.  I am happy to help or even to do it for you (after getting some key information from you).

OVERVIEW TIMELINE ALLOTMENT

15 minutes:  Details (dress, shoes, rings, etc.)

60 minutes:  Getting ready (Bride & Groom at same location)

30 minutes:  Bridal Party

30 minutes:  Bride & Groom photos

20 minutes:  Bride & Groom individual portraits

10 minutes:  First Look

30 minutes:  Family photos

10 minutes:  Ceremony decor

15 minutes:  Reception Decor

Now let’s get into the details (literally) and some recommendations.

DETAILS:  RINGS, DRESS, SHOES, AND OTHER DETAILS

I like to shoot the details when I first arrive and you are getting ready.

Ideal Time Allotment – 15 minutes

Ideal Time of the Day – Morning

Ideal Location – Bridal Suite or Hotel Suite

Advice – Assign the details (dress, rings, shoes, etc.) to the maid of honor and make sure that she has them available when I arrive.  If the hotel room is too crowded or visually busy, and we have to take the dress all the way down to the lobby or even outside. This can take some time, but it is worth it.

GETTING READY:

Ideal Time Allotment – 1 hour (30 minutes for bride and 30 minutes for groom)

Ideal Time of the Day – Morning or Early Afternoon

Ideal Location – Bridal Suite or Hotel Suite

Advice – Having an hour of preparation is ideal. I cover the getting ready photo-journalistically, so relax and have fun getting ready.

INDIVIDUAL PORTRAITS

Ideal Time Allotment – 20 minutes (10 minutes Bride and 10 minutes Groom)

Ideal Time of the Day – Morning or Early Afternoon

Ideal Location – Bridal Suite, Hotel Suite, Venue Lobby, or Venue Garden

Advice – Right after getting ready is the best time for individual portraits of the bride and groom (separately). Besides make up and hair being completely fresh, the day hasn’t gotten hectic yet (we hope).  Also I love to shoot in the window light (for brides) of most hotel rooms because of the unique look that I can achieve.  If the groom is getting ready at a separate location, please figure in travel time with traffic.

FIRST LOOK

Ideal Time Allotment – 10 minutes

Ideal Time of the Day – Morning or Early Afternoon

Ideal Location – Venue Garden, Empty Venue Hallway (shaded areas with natural light)

Advice – Relax, have fun, talk to each other.  This is your time, and will be one of the few times during your wedding day that you will get to spend alone with each other.

We can do the couples session right after the first look or we can do it later (see the “couples session” section below).

WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS

Ideal Time Allotment – 30 minutes

Ideal Time of the Day – Morning or Afternoon

Ideal Location -Venue Lobby, Venue Garden, Beach, Park, Off-site Location

Advice – Wedding Party Photos should be around 30 minutes.  Make sure that everyone has a copy of the wedding day photography schedule and that they know where and when to be at a location.

IMMEDIATE FAMILY

Ideal Time Allotment – 30 minutes

Ideal Time of the Day – Morning or Afternoon

Ideal Location -Venue Lobby, Venue Garden, Beach, Park, Off-site Location

Advice – Immediate Family Photos should take another 30 minutes to 1 hour. It’s important to have additional images with your parents, grandparents, and siblings beyond the basic formals.  I can’t stress this strongly enough:  I love capturing you day photo-journalistacally, but make sure that you schedule enough time for family photos.  You will thank me later.

CEREMONY DETAILS AND VENUE

Ideal Time Allotment – 10 minutes

Ideal Location – Ceremony Site

Ideal Time of the Day – Morning or Afternoon

Advice – Please allow 15 minutes to take pictures of the ceremony site, completely set up with no guests or vendors in the area.

FORMALS (EXTENDED FAMILY, IMMEDIATE FAMILY, AND FRIENDS)

Ideal Time Allotment – 30 minutes

Ideal Time of the Day – Morning or Afternoon (Post Ceremony)

Ideal Location – Ceremony Site

Advice – Formals should take around 30 minutes or longer depending on the size of your family and depending on whom you want formal pictures with.

You can do a picture with all guests, or you can do pictures with select VIPs to save time (it is all about time). We recommend something in between and also recommend being very organized, with a list of groups and helpers from each side of the family to help round people up.

COUPLES SESSION

Ideal Time Allotment – 30 minutes – 60 minutes

Ideal Time of the Day – Late Afternoon (Sunset)

Ideal Location – Venue Garden, Beach, Hotel Lobby, Park

Advice – Couple session should be around 1 hour and should take place ideally 45 minutes before sunset. This is the best time in terms of lighting.  If you booked your venue because of the spectacular view of the ocean or the gorgeous vines in the winery, this is the time you’ll want to have your photography session.

RECEPTION DETAIL AND VENUE

Ideal Time Allotment – 15 minutes

Ideal Time of the Day – Early Evening

Ideal Location – Ceremony Site

Advice – Please allow 15 minutes to take pictures of the reception room–completely set up with no guests or vendors in the area.  Similar to the ceremony details, this is the only opportunity we have to capture the beauty of the reception room prior to guest arrival.

COUPLES SESSION – RECEPTION SNEAK OUT

Ideal Time Allotment – 10-20 minutes

Ideal Time of the Day – Dusk to Night Time

Ideal Location – Areas with interesting lights, fountains, cityscapes, windows and mirrors

Advice – During the reception, please plan on sneaking out for a couple of night shots.

OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

Table Shots – Table shots are when you go around visiting tables. There are two options for photography during this time. 1) You can take formal pictures with each of these tables or 2) we can simply focus on photojournalism, capturing the smiles and hugs as you mingle with each table. If you’re planning on doing formal table shots, please keep in mind that these will take a significant time (up to 1 hour or more depending on the size of your wedding). We highly recommend option 2, the photojournalism route with exceptions for the VIP tables

Tell Everyone —  Once the photography timeline is complete with times and locations (and directions, what to wear, etc.), please make sure that everyone gets a copy and knows where to be and when.

Have a great wedding,

Dave Donovan

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