How much time do I need to allocate to capture all my wedding portraits and events?

Updated: Apr 19, 2019

Wondering how long you need a photographer or videographer at your wedding? How much time you need to allocate between getting ready and the ceremony? Ceremony and the reception? Here are a few timeline tips to help you plan out your day!

Getting Ready: 1 hour to 2 hours

This always seems to take longer than you think, and give yourself enough time to make sure it is relaxing, but give your photographer and videographer at least 1 at the end to catch the final touch ups, champagne time, jewelry and details, and getting in the dress. If you're getting ready in fun bridal party robes you will also want some time to get a few fun photos in those before getting fully dressed. Know your bridesmaids, if they can get ready fast or if they take a long long time, plan accordingly.

First Look/Reveal: 15-30 min

If you aren't sure if you need or want a first look, or if you don't even know what a first look is, check out my blog post about the pros and cons of having a first look HERE.

Ceremony: This varies depending on type of ceremony and personal preference

Traditional Ceremony: 30 minutes

Full Catholic Mass: 1 hour to 1 and a half hours

Non-Full Mass Catholic Wedding: 45 minutes

Portrait Time

Bride and Bridesmaids Photos: 30 to 45 minutes (depending on number of bridesmaids)

Groom and Groomsmen Photos: 30 to 45 minutes (depending on number of groomsmen)

Full Bridal Party Photos: 15 to 30 minutes (depending on size of wedding party)

Bride and Groom Portraits: 35 minutes to one hour (keep in mind if there is an area you'd like these taken in that requires any travel)

Family Formals: 30 to 45 minutes (depending on size of family and number of family groupings)

Reception Fun!

So now how long does your photographer and videographer need to stay after the meal is over and the fun has started! Well the first big question is are you planning on having a formal or "grand" exit? Sparklers, confetti, leaves, bubbles etc. I have had to stay an hour to two hours longer than would have been necessary to make sure I can capture these fun exit rituals, and I love them! However, I feel bad that the bride and groom are paying for all this time with me that they don't necessarily have to. Here's a few ways to avoid having your photographer and videographer there longer than needed.

If you are having a formal or "grand" exit, would you be willing to do this is right after the ceremony when all of your guests are right there and can easily be gathered up into a line? Then you would just come right back for portrait time. Or could you just have it earlier in the evening after the cake cutting and first dances? I find that a lot of people tend to have left already when couples wait until the end of the reception for the formal exit, so sometimes Brides end up having their exit shots with only a few people around, making it not the most awesome or picturesque sendoff.

For quite a few reasons, and in my experience, it is best to schedule your big events of your reception within the first hour or so - bouquet/garter toss, cake cutting, first dances, formal exit etc. A good portion of wedding guests tend to leave a little bit after the meal so having the main events while guests are still around looks best for imagery, and of course allows you to share those moments with those who have to leave early. Then you can just party on into the night with those who want to keep celebrating, and not worry about getting any more "official" things done or paying certain vendors more to stay way late into the night, like photographers and videographers! And don't worry, we can still get plenty of fun party time photos without being there until the end.

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