Photo Timing for your Standard or Small Wedding Day

Here is a summary of the photo timing on a wedding day! Read on to see a full breakdown and explanation of this schedule. In our experience, the timing we talk about in this post is best for being the most relaxed while we capture beautiful photos.

  • Getting Ready — 1.5-2 hours 
  • First Look — 15 Minutes
  • Bridal Party Photos — 30-45 Minutes
  • Bride and Groom Photos — 45-60 Minutes
  • Ceremony — 20-60 Minutes
  • Set Up Details — 30-45 Minutes
  • Family Photos — 20-45 Minutes
  • Sunset Photos — 15-30 minutes
  • Reception Coverage — 2-5 hours

Getting Ready — 1.5-2 hours 

It isn’t necessary for us to be there at the beginning of the beautification process! But one hour is perfect for us to capture the invitations, rings, dress, shoes, personal flowers, something borrowed, and other details.

Make sure those details are set aside and ready for us when we arrive so you won't have to go digging though your bags to find them.  Styling and details are our love language!

The second hour is perfect for some touch up shots, robe/cheers-ing photos and to capture the bride’s getting dressed process. Hot tip: Make sure your bridesmaids get dressed before you do so they are not in their sweats when they help you get into your dress! Because we are a two shooter team, Tim will join me at the first location to capture the trickiest detail photo (the rings) and when he is finished he can travel to a secondary location (at the same venue or another!) to capture the guys getting ready.

First Look/Not First Look — 15 Minutes

With two photographers you get two angles of this emotional moment! It takes a few minutes to set up a few shots and angles and then the rest of the time is candids capturing you two celebrate seeing each other for the first time! We encourage large bear hugs, sweet hand holding and lots and lots of kisses! If you are on the fence about whether or not to do a first look check out this post and see if it’s the right decision for you!

Bridal Party Photos — 30-45 Minutes

When our couple does a first look, we start with the whole group together (doing standard posed shots and as many fun, candid shots as we can!) and then split up: Tim taking portraits of the one bridal party side and me (Marisa) with the other side! If you decide to not do a first look, then we do portraits of each bridal party side separately before the ceremony (to save time during cocktail hour) and then do photos of the whole group together after the family photos which should immediately follow the ceremony.

Bride and Groom Photos — 45-60 Minutes
We will cover individual portraits, details of your attire and personal florals, and photos of you two together. If you decide to do an engagement session you will be more comfortable and loose in front of the camera and the process should flow more naturally. But if you never did an engagement session, it helps to have a bit more time to allow you to relax and capture candid moments. 

Typically we capture a few looking at the camera shots (trust me, the older folks love them!) but usually we focus on creating natural candid moments of talking, laughing, walking and just being together in a way that shows off your love for one another. 

Set Up Details — 30-45 Minutes

It is important for us to set aside time on the schedule to capture these set up and environmental details because these are the things that get moved, disrupted and changed when guests descend upon the event. We want to capture them in their pristine state, the way you have envisioned them to look! 

You work incredibly hard on your vision and your coordination/venue team work hard making it all come to life. Once the guests enter it never looks the same again! It is the easiest when the wedding is all at one location, but as long as communication about set up completion is clear and photo time is scheduled for us, we should be able to capture plenty of detail photos at separate ceremony and reception locations.

Ceremony — 20-60 minutes

Timing here totally depends on what type of ceremony you want to have! Non-religious, simple ceremonies are typically 20 minutes tops (even if you write your own vows!) whereas very religious or Catholic Mass ceremonies are a full 60 minutes. 

Important Cocktail Hour Note:

If you do not do a first look, then we strongly recommend a 90 minute cocktail hour. I know that seems long, but with enough food and drink people will be fine! The timing breakdown works out to 20-30 minutes for family photos, 10-15 minutes for some photos of the whole bridal party together and 45-50 minutes for romantic photos the bride and groom. If we compress the cocktail time to 60 minutes, the amount of portraits will be significantly reduced and much more rushed. However if you do a first look, 60 minutes is plenty of time for cocktail hour! We can use the first half of the cocktail hour to do family photos (see more info on those below) and the rest of cocktail hour can be spent taking couple’s sunset photos, relaxing and taking a breather, or you could join your cocktail hour for drinks and snacks!

P.S. — We don’t normally take photos of food, but if requested, we will!

Family Photos — 20-45 Minutes

The timing here depends on the size of your families! We kindly ask that you restrict family photos to immediate family (grandparents, parents and siblings) but sometimes you have mixed families, divorces, re-marriages, half siblings and siblings with significant others and kids. Oh my! We will either interview you about your specific family needs or request you fill out our family information form and then we can build your custom shot list for your approval. We usually recommend doing the family photos right after the ceremony and reminding your family to stay for photos in two ways. First, tell each and every person you want in photos to stay in the ceremony area after the ceremony for photos that will immediately follow. Second, have your officiant announce and dismiss guests to cocktail hour, asking family to remain in the area for photos. We have photographed small, organized families in 15 minutes and we have photographed huge family lists for an entire 60 minute cocktail hour. Make sure you let us know your family photo priorities and we will advise on how much time is needed!

Sunset Photos — 15-30 minutes

First look or no, I highly recommend taking a minimum of 15 minutes to step outside with us and make some golden hour magic. I promise it is worth it!

Reception Coverage — 2-5 hours

Again, the timing here depends on your guest count and what you want captured at your reception. You can spend your time just socializing with guests and eating while we capture candids or you can do all or some of the traditional events: a grand entrance, a first dance, toasts, table visits (a great way to get a photo with every guest!), bouquet/garter toss, shoe game, anniversary dance, money dance, hora, open dancing and cake cutting!

Typically we stay until the last reception event (usually the cake cutting!) and then we take our couples outside the reception for a small break and one last photo of you to end the night. We love to get creative and dramatic with the photo, with the goal of highlighting some beautiful and unique feature of your venue that is especially lovely at night. 

Please let us know if you have any further questions, hopefully this was helpful for you!


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