Anyone who's been married will tell you - your wedding day flies by in a heartbeat! A lot of planning goes into your big day, and a huge part of that planning is deciding on your wedding timings. It's crucial you get the timings right so you've got time to fit in the photos you want and of course time to enjoy the day too. Most wedding venues have set timescales they'll recommend for your wedding, however there are a small number of venues who set these timings based on their own needs (not what you, as their client, might want/need) so it's worth considering your wedding timings more carefully.
Every photographer is different - we all approach a wedding day in different ways and of course every wedding is different too. A good photographer will work within the timings you set, so if timings are tight they'll still be able to get what you're looking for from your photos. Generally speaking though, the more time you allocate to your photographer, the more relaxed the experience will be and the more photos you'll have to choose from after the wedding.
So with that in mind, how much time should you allow for your wedding photos? The short answer is: as much time as possible! I realise this is a bit of a vague statement so let's drill-down into it a little further....
For most weddings, I usually recommend allowing no less than 2 hours between the end of your ceremony and the start of dinner. That seems like a lot of time but let's look at this in more detail:
For the typical wedding, we'll usually look to photograph the following between the end of the ceremony and the start of dinner:
- Bride & Groom Portraits - there's a lot to photograph here! There's close ups of both the bride and groom, bridal portraits (close up, full length from all angles, dress detail shots), panoramic venue shots that show the surroundings and more. I usually look to make the most of all the opportunities a wedding venue offers whether that's a nice staircase, beautiful gardens, a cracking driveway, large stained-glass windows or beautiful rooms and of course this takes time. I usually spend around 30-40mins on bride and groom shots to ensure we've got everything covered.
- Bridal Party Photos - a selection of photos of the two of you with your best man, ushers, bridesmaids, page boys and flower girls. I usually take group photos of these as well as action shots and selection of fun photos, and for these I'll usually spend around 20-30 mins, depending on how large your bridal party is.
- Family Groups - a great chance to get some photos of the whole family whilst everyone's together! Family Groups can take quite a bit of time to organise, depending on how many groups there are, and how easy it is to dig everyone out of the bar/their rooms/the drinks reception or wherever they happen to be hiding!! We'd usually spend 20-30 mins on family groups, again depending on how many shots there are to take.
- Mingling Shots - everyone loves natural shots of you and your guests socialising and enjoying themselves, but you'll need to make sure you allow enough time in between formal shots to capture these. I usually spend around 10-15 mins per wedding capturing natural shots so it's worth building this time into the schedule.
- Table/Room set-ups - it's nice to have a permanent record of your table/room set-ups and I'll usually spend around 10 mins on these in between formal photos.
As you can tell from the above, that's around 90 -120 mins or more of photographs all-in. And the bigger your wedding, the longer it'll take to properly cover everything. The other consideration is that, ideally, you'll want to spend some time relaxing and enjoying yourselves with your friends and family, so it pays to allocate some chill-out time too so you're not standing for photos smiling at the camera constantly - that gets a bit tiring!
So, how long do you allow for photos? Honestly, I'd say allow 2 to 2 1/2 hours between the end of the ceremony and the start of your evening meal, to ensure there's time to cover everything without feeling rushed, time to enjoy yourselves and of course time to spare just in case things run late for some reason. If you're considering having a receiving line before dinner, make sure you allow extra time for this too.
And of course, every wedding is different. Smaller weddings will take less time to photograph. Perhaps you don't want lots of posed photos?? If so, it'll take less time to cover everything but ultimately if you're not sure, the best advice is this: discuss it with your photographer, who'll be able to advise on how much time to allow for the photos you want.