Planning Your Wedding Day


Time is of the Essence: Capturing your Big Day

You have been planning this day your whole life (or at least since you joined Pinterest), and it is finally here; countless hours were spent sifting through bridal magazines picking the perfect dress, deciding who will be in your bridal party, finding a perfect location, choosing a theme and preparing decorations.  You have it all planned out, from the color of the bridesmaid’s dresses to every last detail of your cake. You want every moment of this big day to be captured, and despite the large amount of preparation involved in planning one of the biggest days of your life, the day itself always goes by in a flash.

You put a lot of thought into who will officiate your wedding; you hired the band or DJ for your reception; you may have hired a wedding planner or are relying on a family member or friend to help make sure the day goes smoothly; but one of the most important decisions you will make is finding the perfect wedding photographer.  One that has the ability to capture all the moments—both little and big—and create a portfolio of memories that you can return to and relive. A good photographer takes pictures to keep a record of your day, but a great photographer goes the extra mile to make sure that every detail from the first kiss to the beading of your gown is artistically captured.

Once you have found the perfect photographer for your ceremony, one of the most important—and often overlooked–steps in planning your wedding day is setting up a photography timeline. Determining the proper amount of time that is needed between events, allows a photographer to not feel rushed, and gives them the ability to use precision and creativity that will create photographic memories that are unique to you. No two brides are the same, but here is a general rundown of things you need to consider when setting up a photography time schedule for your union.

Details, Details, Details

After all the time and energy you spent planning your wedding, preserving every detail, even something as small as the place cards and flowers on each table at your reception is important.  It is recommended allowing at least 30 minutes to photograph these details.

Getting Ready for the Main Event

Many brides feel they don’t need this part of their wedding day photographed but it is the perfect time to capture the bride’s unique style and personality. Buttoning up the dress, adjusting the veil, applying makeup, and spending time with your bridesmaids and family before the ceremony is something you will want to remember forever, and often produces dynamic shots that capture the heart of your big day.  Set aside at least 1-1.5 hours for the bride, bridesmaids, and her family before the ceremony and 30-45 minutes for the groom, groomsmen, and his family before the ceremony for these photos. Of course, if both or one side would like a large amount of family portraits beforehand then more time will be needed.

The Main Event

Obviously, the length of the ceremony will be completely up to you. Typically, ceremonies last anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour depending on location and religious affiliation. Something important to keep in mind is the receiving line. Depending on the amount of guests, receiving lines can take 15 minutes to an hour or more. If we are on a tight time schedule after the ceremony, many couples choose to have their receiving line at the reception or forgo it all together.

Formal Family Portraits

This greatly depends on your family size and what is important to you. There are countless combinations of family poses. If you would like to have individual portraits with every aunt, uncle, and cousin then more time will be need to be allotted. For each group pose I recommend allowing 3-5 minutes depending on size. It’s important to select one person to be the navigator during this time. This person should gather all the family members and have them ready when it is their turn.

Although each family is different, I recommend at least 30 minutes for family portraits.

The Supporting Players

Now it’s finally time to have a little fun! Wedding party portraits typically last anywhere from 30-45 minutes. If you are having a very large wedding party, then it may be a little on the longer side.

Capturing the Couple

After posing with your family and bridal party, it is finally just the two of you (and your photographer)!  Couple portraits are the most important ‘posed’ part of your day. Again, this will depend on the time we have between the ceremony and reception but the longer, the better. I prefer to have 45 minutes to 1 hour dedicated to just you two but sometimes that’s just not feasible. At a bare minimum please allow 30 minutes. Many times couples take a few portraits before the reception and then slip outside after dinner to finish up.

The Celebration

Depending on the number of guests, typically dinner last for 45 minutes to an hour. I do not photograph during this time but I am ready with my camera should anything worth remembering pop up.

Toasts and cake cutting can last anywhere from 15-30 minutes.

First dance, father/daughter dance, mother/son dance, wedding party dance, anniversary dance, bouquet toss, garter toss, dollar dance, shoe game, or any other tradition that comes up will add to the time needed to take photographs. Each reception is unique but typically 1-2 hours of dance coverage is needed.

The First Look

The first look gives couples the opportunity to see each other before the ceremony and before the hectic events of the day begin. This can be great, as it gives the bride and groom a moment to relax, especially if they have limited time for portraits after the ceremony. First looks aren’t for everyone but for those who choose to see each other before the ceremony I recommend setting aside 20-30 minutes.

Go With the Flow

Despite your best efforts, things may not always go as planned. That’s okay! It’s important for your photographer to be flexible and to take into account the natural flow of the day. I strive to make your day as stress-free as possible by adapting to the unique needs of your wedding day.

Since you have spent so much time and money planning the perfect wedding ceremony, it seems that setting up a timeline with your photographer just makes sense. Not only will your photos be better tailored to your needs, but you’ll get the most return on your investment, and allow your photographer to focus on creating the best image possible.  Sarah with Roslyn Photography is happy to work with any couple to set up a timeline that is perfect for their day.


Written in collaboration with Hannah Stepenoff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *