There is a common phrase that states, “Time is on your side!” As a professional wedding photographer, I am here to tell you that on your wedding day, it isn’t. Even the weeks before your wedding tend to fly by at an alarming speed, and one of the most common questions I get during that time is, “How long do wedding photos take?”
The Wedding Timeline
Before we get into how long you should expect to be in front of the camera, let’s first consider what you have planned for your wedding timeline.
Nothing is ever perfect on a wedding day
You can plan out every moment and every detail, but I am speaking from years of experience when I tell you that the day is not going to go exactly as you plan it.
For example, if you have a drive to a location that is supposed to take ten minutes, it is most likely going to take half an hour. And it never fails that someone has gone to the restroom or wandered off, and they have to be tracked down for pictures.
The most common mistake that I see brides make is during hair and makeup. Whatever amount of time you allocate for hair and makeup pad it by at least an extra 30 minutes.
Things are going to happen on your wedding day to throw off your timeline, but don’t let that stress you out. Instead, be proactive and allow a little extra time for everything you want to do.
Ok, but how long do you need for pictures?
Well, thank you for asking, but remember this is really a question for you. Keep in mind that the question to ask yourself is, how long do you want to spend taking formal pictures of you and your family?
Your family will inevitably want to take portraits with you and your new spouse after the ceremony. However, this is your wedding day, and you do have the right to set a limit on how many family members jump into the formal portrait pool.
When planning out formals, I like to ask how large your family is? Are your parents divorced? Siblings, aunts and uncles, family friends, etc.? Every wedding attendant that wants to have a formal portrait taken is going to take time to create.
Even if your family is small, it is not going to take just 10 minutes. It will take 10 minutes to get everyone gathered together and posed alone.
On average, I suggest you allocate 30 minutes after the ceremony for family portraits. The more extended family you have, the longer this will take.
Make a Family List
Here is what I suggest to my clients, take the time to make a family list. I have been photographing weddings for several years now, so I don’t need a FULL list of images you want to be taken, such as “the kiss” or “ring shot.” If you send me a five-page list of everything you want to be captured, it will kill my creativity and limit what I can capture candidly.
And yes, I received a five-page list once from a wedding planner, and I spent as much time reading it as I did trying to photograph the wedding party getting ready. I threw it out once the ceremony started.
However, a list of all the formal family portraits you want is crucial! This helps me and your family stay organized and move this part of your day efficiently. To ensure it does go well, designate someone to be the “keeper of the list” and call out names for assembly. If you have a wedding planner, this is part of their job, but if you do not hire one, ask someone to help you.
What about pictures of us as a couple?
This is where time should be set aside for more than anything else. However, this is up to you as a couple as well. I understand that some people are just not comfortable in front of a camera and that is ok!
In my professional opinion, though, give me at least 30 minutes of devoted time just of the two of you. The images taken during this brief slot of time are the ones you will treasure most and hang on your wall. If you want to take longer to showcase the stunning location you have chosen to have your wedding at, I am all for it!
Really I am all for it because this is when my creativity drive explodes, and my bubbly personality erupts.
Nevertheless, remember how long it takes to do your wedding photos is ultimately up to you. Every wedding and couple is different, so together, we will work out what is best for you.