I think it was Fairport Convention back in the late 60’s who recorded a song called “Who Knows Where The Time Goes?”. Whilst I think it’s safe to assume that they weren’t singing about wedding photography, the title does hold very true for a wedding day.
When I meet couples, one of the most often asked questions are “how much time do we need for our photography?” “Aah”, I say, “you need hours and hours and hours!” Of course, I’m only joking. The truth is, every wedding day is different and every couple’s photography requirements are different, therefore, the time needed for each is going to be different. But there are some general rules that will make everything tick along much more smoothly. Let me try and elaborate…
The first thing to bear in mind is that there are really only two occasions during the day where time needs to be allocated to photography – the group shots and the bride & groom shots. The rest of the day will pretty much be photographed just as it happens (bridal preparation, ceremony, post ceremony drinks, reception, speeches, cake cutting & first dance). So let’s look at each of these in turn:
Nearly every wedding requires a selection of group shots (or the formals as they’re sometimes referred to). How many you have is entirely up to you. I personally don’t put a limit on the number (although some photographers might) – all I do say is bear in mind how long they will take. As a general rule of thumb, I would say you need to allow 3 to 4 minutes per group shot which will allow for the setting up of the group and taking about 4 or 5 shots, some formal and some less formal. It is assumed that all your family and friends who will be in the group shots are ready and waiting to be called in and for this to happen, it’s really important to firstly, make a list of the group shots you want and secondly, give copies of the list to the ushers (or any other responsible person if you don’t trust your ushers) for them to gather everyone together in advance. This ensures that we get all the groups done quickly and efficiently without anyone having to hang around for too long (not a good idea once the bar’s open).
Bride & groom shots
These are the big shots of the day so it really makes sense to put aside the right amount of time for them – there’s nothing worse than running out of time and not getting these done properly. On the day, there are usually two opportunities for these shots. Most commonly, straight after the group shots before the reception, but also later in the day before the evening reception starts.
30 minutes for me is a good amount of time for the bride & groom shots. This gives us enough time to move to a few different spots at your venue and get a great selection of images. If you can allocate more time, even better, but 30 works well as a minimum. The one thing to remember is that the bride & groom shots usually take place just before the reception, and I’ve lost count of the number of chefs that I’ve apparently upset due to the fact that I’m holding up the start of the reception while I’m finishing the bride & groom shots.
Then there’s the evening session, just after the reception and before the evening reception starts. Usually, the venue staff will be turning the tables and preparing the room for the evening, so this is a great time to get a few more images done, and often the light is fantastic at this time of the day so you’ll get some great shots completely different from those taken earlier in the day. 15-20 minutes usually works quite well for this, although I am conscious that this is also the time when a lot of your evening guests are starting to arrive, so you may not find it easy to drag yourself away from the party. I always say, “keep the idea in your back pocket” and if you want to get some more images done, we will, if not, no problem – I leave it up to you.
So how much time?
So what does this all add up to? Well, as I said earlier, it’ll be different based on your own requirements. But, let’s say you wanted about 10 group shots and 30 minutes of bride & groom shots. That’s 30-40 minutes for the groups plus 30 minutes for the bride & groom, so 60-70 in total. Personally, I would also factor in about 10-15 minutes between the group and bride & groom shots as it’s not often where we’ll just go from one into another – it is your wedding day after all and your attention will be in demand from all your guests. So, I would go for 90 minutes, and the clock starts ticking as soon as you’re finished with the drinks reception. And don’t forget also that if your ceremony and reception venue is not one and the same, there’ll be travelling time between the two to consider also.
So, there we have it. Your day, of course, is not all about the photography and the photography should definitely not dictate your day. But I do hope that this piece has provided you with a little insight to help with your timings on the day and provide you with ample time for your photography to get the best results.
Please help me out; I don’t want to be at the wrath of any more chefs!
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