If there’s one question that I get asked by almost every couple we meet with, it’s a variation on “How long will photos take?”
Unfortunately, there’s not a simple answer that will work for every bride and groom out there. Each wedding is vastly different, which is why we are happy to customize our packages. That way, you can personalize your wedding day photography coverage to meet your unique needs.
Below is a breakdown of most wedding day activities and how long they take on average. Figure out how long each section will last for your day, and whether you want a photographer present, and you’re well on your way!
Please feel free to give us a call to chat about your plans, though, and we can help you decide how much time you need to plan for! All of our wedding packages include timeline assistance, and we’re more than happy to help you determine the level of coverage you need for the day.
Pre-Ceremony (15mins-3+ hours)
- Make sure your photographer is scheduled to start at least 15 minutes before the ceremony. You’ll need to plan on having your photographer present for each preparation step you want included.
- Do you want photos of you getting dressed?
- Do you want photos of you getting your hair/makeup done?
- Do you want photos of the entire wedding party getting hair/makeup done?
Portraits (1-2+ hours)
- I generally suggest a bare minimum of one hour for portraits, though this can be split up over a couple portions of the day.
- Do you have a large family you want to include? More people means more time.
- Do you have a large bridal party? More people means more time.
- Do you want to have time to get a lot of creative bridal portraits? Being in a rush doesn’t lend itself to well to the creative process.
- Do you want to go to any secondary locations for a bridal shoot? Be sure to include travel times.
- Will your portraits be done before and/or after the ceremony?
- Religious ceremonies usually take 45mins to an hour and a half or more.
- Non-religious ceremonies can be as short as 10 minutes, or just as long as religious ceremonies
- Always give yourself a little buffer – extra time is better than not enough time.
Post-Ceremony (o+ hours)
- Are you having a break before the main reception starts?
- Do you need to drive between the ceremony and reception sites?
- Are you having a cocktail hour?
- Are you doing any portraits after the ceremony?
Dinner/Food (30mins-2+ hours)
- If you are serving food, how long is your time frame to get everyone fed?
- Buffets can take from 30-45 minutes for 100 guests just to get through the line. Plan accordingly!
- If you’re only doing hors d’oeuvres or desserts, you will still need to allot for your number of guests and how long it will take to be served.
Reception highlights (1-2+ hours)
We typically suggest “Front-loading” your reception in the following order, in order to maximize your time with the photographer if they aren’t staying until the very end of the party. Time needed for these activities varies depending on how many traditions you choose to observe.
- Toasts at the end of the dinner period
- Cake cutting
- First dance
- Other formal dances
- A short span of dancing to get everyone in the party mood
- Bouquet/garter toss
Dancing (0+ hours)
- How long do you want the photographer to stick around and document the party?
Grand Exit? (y/n)
- Are you having a big fancy exit from the reception? If so, your planned exit time may dictate when the photographer leaves.
- Most grand exits happen after dark, when friends and family may not have the proper equipment to document it well if you don’t plan to keep the photographer around that long. Consider incorporating some fanfare to your walk back down the aisle, or your exit from the ceremony location instead if you don’t plan on asking us to stick around.