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Wedding Day Timing for Photos

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By: Rebecca Richman

When we work with our brides on the timeline for their day we often get a lot of questions about how much time to leave for photos and just some general photography questions. I thought it would be a good idea to reach out to some local photographers to find out what they think about some of these questions posed by brides on wedding day timing.

 

Should bridesmaids get dressed before I do? What about the parents and the groom?
“It's so great to have the bridesmaids and parents of the bride dressed when they are helping the bride put on her dress and get ready. They forget sometimes they are going to be immortalized in those tshirts and flip flops in the wedding album!  Same goes if there will be photographs of the groom prepping. But it is a detail that often is forgotten, so it's nice to think about this beforehand and have it planned out. Mom's usually don't want to be in the photographs unless their hair/makeup are finished and they are dressed, and many times we see them shying away from photos if they are not looking their most fabulous! Everyone who is to be included in photos, whether a couple is seeing each other before the ceremony or after, should be ready to go as soon as possible – discuss this in advance with your planner and photographer so everyone's on the same page. No one likes to feel rushed, and the clients have invested so much energy, expectations, and money into not only the photography, but all details of their wedding day. Good planning is key!”- Jackie Bayne and Patrick Simione, Love Shack Photo

 

How much time should I leave to get dressed?
“Often the one situation that sets the wedding day flow behind, and thus the flow of the day, is the hair and makeup taking too long (that's why we always suggest hiring a professional wedding hair and makeup person who is familiar with weddings-timing is IMPORTANT on your wedding day!) Actually slipping into the dress can take a few minutes (depending on the complexity of the gown) and then the final touches of putting on jewelry, shoes, etc. only take a few more minutes. A bride sitting in her dress too long can cause even more anxiety, so once she is dressed, we like to move into action with the photography and the time line of the day. Our job is to take fabulous photos, but having the time to do so is key.” – Jackie Bayne and Patrick Simione, Love Shack Photo

We often anticipate about a half hour for the bride to get dressed and all ready for photos. As Jackie said, a few minutes to get in the dress, a few minutes to put on jewelry and then some time to compose yourself before heading out for photos.

How much time do we need for photos with the two of us and then photos of the bridal party?
“Unfortunately, there is no real set answer here. Every couple has a vision for their day. What is most important is for the couple to discuss their vision with their photographer and/or planner. An experienced photographer should be able to let you know how much time to allot for your pictures. Some couples just want one group of the bridal party images in one location while others want to do to multiple locations and do different photojournalistic style groupings. Some couples want to drive around to many locations on their wedding day for their romantic portraits.”- Marie Labbancz Photography
 

In short, if you only wanted to do photos for an hour you could, we’ve also had brides with multiple shoot locations as Marie said so we’ve also seen photos with bridal party and bride and groom take as much as 2 hours.

How much time should be saved for family photos?
“I typically allow 30 minutes for family photos but sometimes less and a few times a little more time. I always chat with my client about what they want and who they would like included, immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents) or extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins). My family photos almost never take the time I allow but I always allow buffer time in all of my timelines to allow for things to run late. When its all said and done I want the day to end and know we got everything done they wanted and trying to do it without rushing people. Realistically family photos in a church are about 15 minutes following the ceremony. I think the most time I have ever allotted was one hour because the client had a long list of family and extended family photographs they wanted pre-ceremony.”- Phillip Gabriel Photography

How much cushion time should be padded in?
“You can never have too much padding time! In my 12 years of photographing weddings I have never seen a wedding that was not a tiny bit late at some point throughout the day. I usually put in 30 minutes padding into my formal portrait time and we always use it.”- Marie Labbancz Photography

 

How do you feel about the “first look”- pros and cons
“Everyone knows that traditional story of the doors opening and the groom seeing his bride for the first time and that is a pretty powerful moment – but I also think that setting up a first sight prior to the ceremony can be just as special.  It also allows ample time to do the formal photos so you can go straight to cocktail hour right after the ceremony and enjoy the time at the party with your guests and depending on the time of year it can allow for photos outside while the sun is still out.  I have also found that all of those nerves are calmed down once the couple sees each other.”- Alison Conklin Photography

What do you consider the biggest mistake that people make when timing out their day, from the photographers perspective?
“Some couples have the romantic idea of not seeing each other prior to the ceremony. This is fine, except when their cocktail hour immediately follows. This is always a problem and leads to very rushed portraits of both the bride and groom, bridal party and family. No time for fun! If the couple does not want to see each other prior, then they should build more time in between their ceremony and cocktail hour or extend their cocktail to allow for more time for formal photos.”- Marie Labbancz Photography

 

Always sit with your photographer AND wedding planner to work out the timing details for the wedding. They can help you determine how much time you need with the number of people in your party. Every bride and groom is different, some people want lots of group photos and others don’t want many so every situation will vary but hopefully these questions and answers helped to guide you a little in timing out your day. 

  1. Wendy07-27-11

    Great post, Rebecca!   Love your choice of photographers and the advice they give.  And, I love the "reveal".  It is so much more personal and private for the couple. 

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