How much time do you need for your Wedding Photos?

March 4, 2016

Early in the wedding planning, one of the most common questions my brides ask is “how much time do I actually need for photography?”.

This is a very important question because it will help you invest in the right photography collection and help you plan your day’s timeline as well!

When I first started shooting weddings, I used to offer full day packages that would sometimes last 14 hours. What I found is that I was getting three hours of hair being curled in the morning or three hours of uncle bob ripping up the dance floor in the evening – hilarious but not the best use of my couple’s investment.

Now, I offer 8 and 10 hour wedding collections with an option for discounted additional hours.

The two timelines I show my clients are below:


The “traditional” timeline is where the bride and groom first see each other walking down the aisle, whereas the “first look” timeline has the romantic portraits happening before the ceremony.

In my experience, it has been a 50/50 split in popularity between the two options.
Some reasons some couples opt for the first look is because they are shy and want to alleviate some of the ceremony walk attention, or because they want to jump right into the party after the ceremony and family portraits. Sometimes the bridal party portraits are incorporated after the first look and before the ceremony as well.

I recommend to always have the family portraits after the ceremony because everyone is guaranteed to be in one place. I have had brides wait forever for their families to get together before the ceremony, but the truth is, it’s a lot of people to organize.

Let’s talk about timing required.

Getting Ready: 1 hour

Personally, I am a very efficient shooter and I know what I want. This is why I recommend having me start the coverage about 30 minutes out from donning your dress. This is usually right after you get the finishing touches done on your hair and makeup.

This allows me to get the candid moments, details shots, dressing shots, meeting dad, and of course the gorgeous beauty shots of the bride when her makeup is fresh. All of this happens in about an hour.


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Family Portraits: 10 minutes

Next up is the ceremony which usually lasts about 30 min if it’s a traditional ceremony, this is followed by the family portraits.

There is sometimes a recieving line that automatically forms after the ceremony which needs to have about 10 minutes allocated for. It’s great for photographs of everyone’s smiles but some couples would prefer to not have one. In this case, ask your photographer to announce the family portraits immediately.

Before the wedding, my couples fill out a short questionnaire containing all the information I will need including who you want in your family portraits (immediate relatives, wedding group shot etc) to ensure that we quickly organize everyone so they can get back to mingling.

If there is food within eyesight, double this time (#truth).

Bridal Party: 10 minutes

Here we get to have some creative fun and we generally move to a different background or new location altogether. We focus on fun group photos as well as individual bridal party memebers/with the couple. It’s a great time and usually doesn’t take long at all.

If the party has been drinking in the limo, double this time.


Romantic Portraits: 40-60 min

This happens after the bridal party, or as a “first look” before the ceremony.

This is my favourite part and a lot of my clients hire me specifically for my talents in this area. I recommend at least 40 minutes, more if we are doing more than one location. This is the first time you are “alone” together after you are officially married and it’s when it all sinks in – lots of smiles and catching up between you two happen here and it’s magical.

I capture these emotions as well as giving you 110% direction into fun poses and locations for the camera so you can just focus on each other.

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Reception: Your reception length

          There’s no ideal time here since at this point, I am a fly on the wall capturing whatever happens naturally which includes your grand entrance, speeches and moments among your guests.

As you can imagine, dinner time where people are eating is the only time when I am not taking photos. I use this time instead to put together your same-day slideshow.

Also, after the speeches I like to steal the couple of the hour away for some romantic sunset portraits for 5 minutes.

          This includes the first dances, cake cutting, garter/bouquet tosses and party candids. As you will see in the diagram, 8 hours usuaully covers up to the cake cutting or just after the first dance.

Many weddings run behind schedule so these are estimates. I have found 10 hours to be ample time to capture everything right down to the first of Uncle Bob’s epic moves.

          Talk to your photographer about how much time they prefer for each portion of your day and ask about their overtime rates and policy as well. I offer a refundable overtime rate which gets you two additional hours at half the price, should you need it. Any amount up to the nearest half hour is refunded back to you after the wedding. My couples love it because it’s peace of mind and I love it because I don’t have to bother you about it on the wedding day!



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