Since wedding photography rates are based on time, "How much coverage do we want?" is a question every couple has to ask themselves before booking a wedding photographer. You can always add more time on the day-of if needed, but you'll get a better package deal if you book the number of hours you need from the beginning.
But, if you've never been married before, how do you know how much time you need? Well, that's where I come in! Since I've shot over 100 weddings, I can definitely provide a sample timeline based on many of these past weddings, not just as a way to help you make your wedding photography booking decision, but to help you plan your day so that it goes smoothly, and you get all of those special moments captured.
As a wedding photojournalist, my passion of course, is in telling you entire love story - so this sample timeline is based on a full day, ten hours with one photographer. That's right, I'm pretty selfish - I like to capture everything myself, including the groom's side! But, I also understand that many couples like to have a second shooter there, so that you can have everything captured from two sides, so I definitely offer that option. Plus, that can be helpful when your ceremony site is especially large, and offers a balcony to shoot from - I just love being able to have one of us capture that awesome angle from up there. And, you may want a bit of cocktail hour captured while we do your family portraits.
I do want to mention, the timeline below assumes that the bride and groom are getting ready in the same hotel or venue. If you are getting ready in one place, getting married in another, and partying at yet another (and sometimes there's an additional portraits location in between), just be sure to add travel time between your locations within your timeline.
And if you do have two photographers, the second photographer can capture the groom's side 45 before the first look; or, with no first look, the second shooter can start one hour before the ceremony with the groom, and you can cut out some of the lead photographer's time before the ceremony if desired.
Ten hours covers a full day, but you may not want or need a full day captured - so feel free to reach out to me for tips on how to condense this to fit your particular coverage needs.
Before the Ceremony: 4 Hours
- Photographer arrives 90 minutes before bride's hair and make-up is fully complete
- Groom and groomsmen are getting dressed (not photographed) - groom leaves off shoes, vest / jacket, tie, watch, cuff links, boutonniere, pocket napkin, etc
- Bridal details are photographed - bride's dress, shoes, jewelry, wedding rings, bouquet, garter, veil, something old/new/borrowed/blue, etc (20 mins)
- Bride / bridal party are photographed getting hair & make-up done (10 mins)
- Groom details are photographed (10 mins)
- Groom opens gift from Bride (5 mins)
- Groomsmen assist groom with putting on final details (15 mins)
- Groom cheers / drinks with groomsmen / candid photos (10 mins)
- Portraits of groom, portraits of groom with groomsmen, portraits with mom and dad (20 mins)
- Bride and bridal party have fun in their robes / pajamas (pop champagne, toast, candid photos) (20 mins)
- Bride opens gift from Groom, puts on garter, while bridal party gets dressed (10 mins)
- Bridal party / mom assist bride into dress, assist bride with details (30 mins)
- Bridal portraits, bride with bridal party portraits (20 mins)
- Bride's first look with dad, portraits with mom and dad (10 mins)
- Couple’s first look & portraits (30 mins)
- Wedding party portraits (15 mins)
- Travel to ceremony site (varies)
CEREMONY & PORTRAITS / COCKTAIL HOUR: 2 HOURS
- Ceremony details are photographed, guests arriving / signing guest book / being seated while wedding party lines up (15 mins)
- Ceremony (varies; allow a buffer for the ceremony to start late due to outside factors)
- Ceremony exit and moments / congratulations (15 mins)
- Family photos using couple's list of desired portraits (varies - estimate an average two minutes per portrait)
- Wedding party photo (5 mins depending on family portraits)
- Couple's portraits (15 mins depending on family portraits)
- Travel to Reception site (varies)
RECEPTION: 4 HOURS
- Wedding party and couple line up and do Reception Grand Entrance (10 mins)
- Couple and photographer eat (30 mins)
- Couple’s "sneak-away" golden hour session (20 mins; depending on sunset time, will fit somewhere during reception)
- Couple visits with guests (30 mins)
- Toasts (20 mins)
- Cake-cutting (10 mins)
- First Dances (10 mins)
- Open dancing (35 minutes)
- Bouquet / garter tosses (15 mins)
- More open dancing (45 mins)
- Grand Exit (15 mins; can be staged earlier in the evening for photos if needed)