How long will this take?! An insider’s view of a wedding photography timeline

Guest post by BWR Photography
A insider's view of a wedding photography timeline as seen on @offbeatbride
Photo by Black, White and Raw Photography

Are you wondering how long each photography session of your wedding day will take? We got a super comprehensive wedding photography timeline from one of our favorite photography vendors, Black, White and Raw Photography, to help you plan out the day according to your needs.

These are just guidelines, of course, but it gives a great look into what's entailed in each kind of photography session generally, from getting ready to sneaking away during the reception. Each wedding is its own beast, including yours, so take this wedding photography timeline with an eye on your own needs, omitting and adding as needed. Let's hear from the expert, Lori, herself…



Time Allotment: 30-40 Minutes
Time of Day: During couple's preparation
Location: Hotel Room, Suite, or Home
Tip: When we first arrive, we’ll photograph your details first. Having your dress/suit, shoes, jewelry, and flowers all together in one area when we arrive ensures that we’ll have more time to photograph your details. Pre-wedding preparation areas can be wonderfully chaotic, and sometimes we need to take your dress/outfit to a quieter, better lit area, which can be anywhere from a hotel hallway to the outdoors.



Time Allotment: 45 Minutes
Time of Day: Morning
Location: Hotel Room, Suite, or Home
Tip: These photos are the only way the couple will be able to share with each other the moments they spent getting ready for the big day (unless you're getting ready together!). During this time, your photographers will split up with the couple (if you want!) and focus on candid photojournalism: couple and their crew nervously helping with cufflinks and pinning boutonnieres, and getting into dresses. This emotion-filled time often become the most favorite photos of the day.


Time Allotment: 20-30 Minutes
Time of Day: After Preparations
Location: Suite, Venue Lobby, Venue Garden
Tip: Just after prep is finished is the best time for individual portraits of the couple. While makeup and hair is fresh is the perfect time to take advantage of natural light streaming in from a window. If the couplearen’t seeing each other before the ceremony, this is also a good time to get photos of the wedding party before they’re all together.


Time Allotment: 20-30 Minutes
Time of Day: Prior to Ceremony
Location: Second Location or Ceremony Location
Tip: The first time a couple sees each other on their wedding day can be an emotional moment and many couples choose to have that moment prior to the ceremony, without the eyes of all their guests on them. This can be a wonderful time to breath in the moment, shut out all of stress of guests and timelines, and just be together. This is also a perfect opportunity to get some photos of just the two of you in case things run late as the day progresses as well as photos of the wedding party. Many couples choose to do a first look in order to get all of their group and family photos finished before the ceremony, especially those who would rather be at their cocktail hour than using that time for photography.


Time Allotment: 45 Minutes
Time of Day: After First Look or After Ceremony
Location: First Look Location, Ceremony location, or Venue Garden
Tip: Wedding party photos can vary greatly from wedding to wedding. Some couples like natural, friendly group shots, while some love to bring the party, with creative fun loaded with props and goofiness. We love to include a shot of couple with each of their wedding party members. These shots are always best done outside while there’s still plenty of light.


Time Allotment: 45 Minutes
Time of Day: After First Look or Following Ceremony
Location: First Look location, Ceremony Location or Venue Garden
Tip: Depending on the size of your families, and the importance to you of extended family formals, some couple choose to make lists of group formals wanted to ensure no one is missed, and some choose to just kind of wing it. Whichever option is more you, it is always helpful to have a family member from each side as a helper, to round everyone up and make sure everyone important is included.


Time Allotment: 20-30 Minutes
Time of Day: Immediately Prior to Ceremony
Location: Ceremony Location
Tip: Prior to the actual ceremony, this is the time we get photos of the venue as guests arrive. With all the hustle and bustle of the day, the couple will most likely never get to see the ceremony venue fully and all of its details. This is the chance for us not only to get those establishing shots, but also the anticipation as family and friends greet each other for the first time that day.

A insider's view of a wedding photography timeline as seen on @offbeatbride
Photo by Black, White and Raw Photography



Time Allotment: 1 Hour
Time of Day: 30 to 45 Minutes before Sunset
Location: Second Location or Venue
Tip: If you’ve done a first look and wedding party photos you will most likely not need a full hour and will have plenty of time to enjoy your cocktail hour (if you're having one). If you’ve selected your venue for it’s beautiful skylines, beach or a boardwalk, this is the time to take advantage of those sweet, romantic shots that will last a lifetime. At times we will usher you into the perfect light for a beautiful pose, and sometimes we will hang back and allow you to just be.

If you haven’t done a first look, this time will be divided between family formals, wedding party, and then a photo walk with just the couple. So make sure you leave plenty of time!


Time Allotment: 30-40 Minutes
Time of Day: Cocktail Hour
Location: Venue
Tip: During cocktail hour is the perfect time for us to get all those reception details, including centerpieces, gift tables, cake, and any other homemade or important elements in the room, as well as getting our lighting set up for the evening’s events. Some couples love a few romantic shots of just the two of them in room before their guests are allowed in.


Time Allotment: 10-20 Minutes
Time of Day: After Dark
Location: Outside of Venue
Tip: The reception sneak out is quite possibly our favorite part of the evening. After everyone has eaten and the dance floor has opened up, we find an interesting area and set up our lights for a few dramatic night portraits. Depending on location and weather, this could be outdoors or even just a dark, romantic nook somewhere in the building. We understand how important it is to you to get back to your guests, so we get you in and out in just a few minutes for a beautiful, romantic ending to your day of wedding photography!

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Comments on How long will this take?! An insider’s view of a wedding photography timeline

  1. This was a super interesting read because my husband and I were adamant about not wasting time on posed photos and having 90% of our shots be candid. We nixed the getting ready photos, we didn’t do a first look, and we only did approximately 20-30 minutes of posted photos with our family and bridal party post-ceremony. For the whole rest of the day we just gave our photographer free rein to wander the ceremony and reception and get as many candids as possible. While I sometimes feel a pang of regret that we don’t have tons of adorable photos of just the two of us taking a quick flip through the photos we do have erases it because most of our photos are real moments captured on the sly.

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