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How much time do you need for Photography on your Wedding Day?

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

I can't stress this enough, planning in your photography time and setting a proper schedule will help everything run smoothly on your wedding day.

When thinking about how much time you want covered for your day consider how important getting ready images and party images are for you. These two book end your day so if both are important - a 10 hour package is what you need. If you have a smaller wedding with a relaxed day and party photos aren't important to you an 8 hour package may be more suited to your needs.

Below I'll break down how much time I suggest for each photography party of your day to help you plan your timeline and give you example timelines at the end of this post.

*please note I have used the terms bride and groom here for clarity but they are also interchangeable with wedding partner 1 & 2.

Getting Ready - 1.5-2.5 hours

Many mention to me that this part is not important to them as they think of themselves sitting in hair and make up for hours while I photograph it. However, I use these hours before your ceremony to help tell the story of your day. It usually reflects the quiet moments with your favourite people. And allows me to capture all the important details of your day along with the location you have chosen. This time breaks down as follows:

15 minutes location and environment shots - as well as meeting the bridal party

30 minutes to capture, hair, make up, your getting ready location, and all your details

30-45 minutes to capture groom and groomsmen getting ready

30-45 minutes to capture bride getting dressed, reveal to your bridal party and/or parents and a few bridal shots

If the bride and groom are getting ready at separate locations (that includes a drive) please allow for the portrait time and driving time.

Ideally I Iike to arrive at least 2 hours prior to your ceremony time (if we are not changing locations)

First look - 30-45 minutes

This includes 15 minutes for your first look and 15-30 minutes for your bride and groom creative images. If you have kids extend this by 15 minutes for additional images here.

Bridal party photos - 45 minutes

This can be done prior to your ceremony if you have done a first look. If not, it will follow your family photos. Please include driving time if you want to go to another location.

Family photos - 45 minutes to 1 hour

Usually following your ceremony and depends on the size of your shot list. I will ask you to create a detailed list of all the combinations of people you want captured. This way we don't miss anyone important. It also helps us wrangle all the people as it can be quite overwhelming when you're trying to organize 50 or more people and trying to remember if you got everyone you wanted. A family (and friend) shot list is the key to success for any wedding family photo slot.

Sunset photos - 15 minutes

A great way to sneak out for a few moments of alone time after dinner and speeches. I find this is almost always my bride and grooms favourite time for a quiet moment to soak it all in before the party begins. Check when sunset is on your wedding day and we'll want to shoot 30ish minutes before that time.

Of course each wedding day is different and unique but these general timelines should help you build your best wedding timeline.

Here is an example timeline for a ceremony at 3pm with 8 hours of coverage

1:00pm Photographer arrives

1:00pm Property, Detail, & getting ready (bridal party) photos

1:30pm Groom & groomsmen getting ready

2:00pm Bride getting dressed, fun shots with her bridal party & a few bridal portraits

2:45 pm Photographer to ceremony to capture guests arriving

3:00pm Ceremony

3:45pm Group shot (if wanted) & Family formals

4:30pm Bridal Party images

5:15pm Bride & Groom Images

6:00pm Grand Entrance B&G

6:30pm Dinner

7:00pm Speeches

7:45pm Sunset photos (depending on sunset)

8:00pm First Dance & cake cutting

9:00pm Photographer leaves


Here is an example timeline with a FIRST LOOK and a ceremony at 3:30pm with 8 hours of coverage.

12:00pm Photographer arrives

12:00pm Property, Detail, & getting ready (bridal party) photos

12:30pm Groom & groomsmen getting ready

1:00pm Bride getting dressed, fun shots with her bridal party & a few bridal portraits

2:00pm First look

2:30pm Bridal Party photos

3:30pm Ceremony

4:15pm Group shot (if wanted) & Family formals

5:00pm Bride & Groom Entrance or ability to attend cocktail hour

5:30pm Dinner

6:00pm Speeches

7:00pm First Dance & Cake cutting

7:45pm Sunset photos

8:00pm Photographer leaves

*This timeline allows for less "party" photographs but more time for you to enjoy your guests during cocktail hour and an earlier dinner.

I hope this helps with the planning of your timeline. I know it can feel overwhelming to organize but your photographer is here to help. As a wedding client of mine I am always available to offer my timeline suggests at any point during your planning process.


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