How to plan your wedding day photography timeline.

How long do we need to allow for photography?

This is probably the number one question I get asked by couples when they start planning out their wedding day photography timeline. You obviously want to plan your day so that you have plenty of time to get the pictures that you want but also you want to spend time with your guests and not miss the whole party. Right? So how long do you need to allow for photography?

Sadly it's not that easy to answer as every wedding, couple and photographer are different. In short, you will need to discuss your picture requirements with your photographer and work out how to fit it all in. But here are some general guidelines that I give to my couples that should help you get started with your wedding day photography timeline.

 How to plan your wedding day photography timeline. How long do you need to allow for photography?

Family group photographs are the most time consuming. A lot will depend on the size of your family and when these groups are done. I try to get them done as soon as possible after the ceremony when everyone is still all in one place. If you are having a church service and the photos can be done there they tend to be even quicker. Families tend to naturally wait for photos outside the church and everyone is available as soon as its their turn. If you are already at your reception venue people do tend to wander off, especially if there’s a bar!

 Family group photos are quick and easy when done outside the church immediately after the ceremony. Something to bear in mind when planning your wedding day photography timeline.

The usual family groups that I include are the bride and groom with the bride’s parents, same again but with the bride’s siblings then add in any extended family. Then repeat for the groom’s side. This takes about 20 minutes but probably only 15 if outside the church. If there are a few other smaller groups such as both sets of parents, siblings with partners, etc I allow another 5 minutes. After that you need to allow 5 minutes for every other big group shot of more than 10 people. If you have lots of groups of friends, or lots of extended family this can get time consuming. Its totally up to you but just make sure it's in your schedule.

 Big groups at weddings take a while longer to photograph. Remember to leave enough time in your wedding day photography timeline

Bridal party photos with your maids and ushers tend to take about 10-20 minutes depending on the size of your party and what you are after. Maids and ushers are usually quite good at being organised and are willing to have fun with it. I will sometimes do these in two sections so 5 minutes of more formal shots at the same time as family groups then some more fun stuff later on after the wedding breakfast, time and weather permitting.

 Bridal party photographs are more fun and relaxed. A few extra minutes in your timeline can get some really great images.


As for wedding portraits again it greatly depends on what you are after. Personally I allow 20 minutes and again I often split this into two sessions before and after the meal to make the best use of the light. A couple of things to bear in mind. Some photographs will take longer to set up than others depending on the style of photography your after. Again, talk to your photographer.
I love natural looking images that don’t take that long to set up but if you want something more posed then it will take more time. Also don’t forget to include walking time! You won’t be running anywhere in that dress and heels and if you are set on photos at the other end of the lake then allow yourself time to get there.

 Think about locations for portraits when planning your timeline. Do you need any extra time to get to a special place.

The rest of the day I tend to shoot in a documentary style and so you shouldn’t need to allocate particular time for photos. The only other part of the day when time can get tight is making sure you are ready in time to have photos taken before the ceremony. Not usually a problem unless you are running late.
So, to sum up I start with a rough guide of three 20 minute sessions and adjust that according to each couple and venue. I encourage couples to keep big groups to a minimum as they take away from partying time and I just make sure that we have gone through the timeline in advance of the wedding so we can adjust things if necessary.

I hope that is helpful and gives you some idea of timings. Talk to your photographer and coordinator about it and I’m sure your day will run seamlessly.

For more ideas and help with timelines check out these posts from Junebug Weddings:

8 ways to make more time for yourselves in your wedding day timeline

How to create a wedding day timeline

Happy planning x