The following suggestions are meant to help as you craft the timeline of your day. Each couple’s priorities and needs are different, so this is by no means one-size-fits-all timeline advice. It assumes that you are getting ready, getting married, and getting fed in one spot, so no time has been added for transit. It assumes that portraits are of medium importance to you–if they are less important, you can leave less time, if they are more important, you’re free to leave more time for traveling to different portrait spots. Our ‘bare minimum’ suggested total time for portraits is 45 minutes–anything less than that and you’ll see me sweat. :)
First Look: Our Thoughts
The photography portion of your wedding timeline will be driven largely by whether you opt to see each other before the wedding ceremony. Over the years we’ve seen benefits to both approaches. If you’re already set on the right one for your wedding, skip this section–we are happy to work with whatever you’ve decided! If you’re still on the fence, here are our thoughts.
Having a ‘first look’ allows you to enjoy your cocktail hour and schedule a more leisurely pace for your portraits (which allows us time to be more creative). It’s also an extra ‘photo op’ since the reaction you’ll have to seeing each other in private is very different from the reaction you’ll have seeing each other down the aisle with all of your family and friends watching! If you’re leaning toward a first look but worried that walk down the aisle won’t be as special, I can assure you that vast numbers of grooms still tear up seeing their brides walking down the aisle even if they were just with the bride five minutes before. There’s something momentous about that moment regardless of whether your groom as seen you in your dress and veil. First looks are also great for nervous couples–seeing your fiance puts a lot of those butterflies in your stomach at ease, and once the formal pictures are done there’s a sense of “now we can relax!” to the rest of the day.
For summer weddings, though, a first look often keeps the portrait portion of your day away from the best portrait lighting. In June and July, the lighting is more flattering and romantic after 5pm, so going with a more traditional schedule allows you to have the best light for your portraits, a major bonus!
Traditional Sample Schedule
If you opt for the traditional order of events, we’ll still take a few portraits before the ceremony (bride with bridesmaids and groom with groomsmen) to cut down on the number of shots needed after the ceremony. We start photographing the women one hour prior to the ceremony start so that they can be back hidden from arriving guests at least thirty minutes before the ceremony. The men go next, and we wrap up at least 15 minutes prior to the ceremony so that everyone can get ready.
If portraits are a priority to you and you don’t want to feel rushed, we recommend extending your cocktail hour from the traditional 60 minutes to 75-90 minutes. Wedding preparations often run long and it’s not uncommon for the planned bride and bridesmaids portraits before the ceremony to get totally cut from the schedule when hairdressers run late or dresses take longer than anticipated to lace up. If your ceremony then also runs long (because your officiant gets a little long winded or someone has to chase down the marriage license or you unexpectedly decide to greet a few guests after the ceremony) that 60 minutes for portraits can easily become 45 or even 30 and that starts to feel very rushed. Allowing yourself extra time as a buffer is the perfect solution. If everything runs exactly on schedule, you get to hit the last of your cocktail hour or spend a few minutes alone before the grand entrance. If everything doesn’t run on schedule, you get to breathe easy because you’ve got that buffer zone!
Sample Schedule for First Look Couples
If you opt to have a first look, we still recommend leaving the family formals for immediately after the ceremony. It’s easy to grab people, it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes, and family members inevitably appreciate having the extra time to get ready. We recommend planning to start portraits 1hr 45 mins to 2 hours prior to the ceremony. We finish portraits 30 minutes prior to the ceremony start.
We know that family formals can be painful, so we try to keep them short and happy! In order to keep things running efficiently, if you opt to have more than the standard groupings described below, we ask you to appoint a Family Portrait Monitor–someone to manage your list of extra shots and track down the necessary people.
Our standard groupings take about 10 minutes to complete and include:
Bride with her mom and dad.
Bride with her mom.
Bride with her dad.
Bride and groom with her mom and dad.
Bride and groom with her immediate family.
Bride and groom with her immediate family and grandparents.
Bride and groom with each set of grandparents.
Groom with his mom and dad.
Groom with his mom.
Groom with his dad.
Groom and bride with his mom and dad.
Groom and bride with his immediate family.
Groom and bride with his immediate family and grandparents.
Groom and bride with each set of grandparents.
For divorced and blended families we swap in and out people to make sure that you have one with everyone included in the same shot but that each parent also has a photo with just their relevant family members.
We recommend keeping the family groupings under 15 people. We’re happy to include extended family group poses if you (or your family members) wish, but like to warn you ahead of time that the quality suffers in very large group photos. Beautiful professional quality large group poses require more time than we have on a wedding day!