There is so much to think about when planning your wedding!  When searching for a wedding photographer and creating a budget, most people have no idea how much time they may need.  We created this blog post to help answer this question for you!  Take this post simply as a suggestion.  When meeting with your photographer, they will go over your timeline to see exactly what YOU may need, as every wedding is unique!  If any of your questions are left unanswered, leave us a comment below! Here’s how it typically works for us.

bridal portrait in natural light at the Reeds by jacnjules

2 Hours of Getting Ready

We suggest giving your photographer two hours of getting ready photos on your wedding day.  The first 30-45 minutes are used for photographing details such as the rings, stationary, the gown and any other details to help tell the story of your big day.  This time also helps us to warm up our creative side, all while warming you up to us being there!  Better for us to start off in the background than right in your face with a camera from the get-go.  :)  Once we are done with details and candids of the girls hanging out, we'll then photograph finishing touches on your makeup near a large window.  Hair and makeup should be done about an hour before you leave for either the ceremony or your first look. If everyone has matching robes or flannels, we'll photograph that and then move on to getting dressed!  Letting your photographer know if you have a zip-up dress, corset back, buttons, or all of the above is key to ensure they plan accordingly.  Having two hours will leave enough time for a first look with Dad (which we LOVE), a gift or letter exchange, and bridal portraits before heading out.  In most cases, you should have a little "buffer" of time to ensure you aren't feeling rushed.

If the guys are getting ready at the same hotel or nearby, we will pop over there for about 45 minutes.  They don't take nearly as long to get ready as the girls!  We find it more beneficial to have two photographers with the girls while the bride gets dressed for multiple focal lengths and angles.

photo collage of bride getting ready for wedding day in New Jersey in natural light including first look with dad, robe photo with bridesmaids and details

2 Hours for Portraits

In a perfect world, two hours of portraits would be fabulous!  The only way to get two hours would be to either do a first look before the ceremony or if your wedding ceremony and reception are at two different places.  This way you wouldn't have to miss cocktail hour (and the best food!).  We realize not every wedding is the same, and a good photographer will know how to flow quickly to get what you need in a short amount of time.  Having two hours will account for drive time, getting in and out of the limo, bridal party and just the girls and just the guys, of course bride and groom photos, and family portraits with a little buffer in there in case things run behind.  Depending on the locations and drive times, you could also gets photos such as you and each of your bridesmaids, the groom and each groomsman, etc.  If you are doing a first look, you should also consider being back at the venue 30 minutes before the ceremony begins to ensure your guests don't see you as they arrive.  It is also advised to give your photographer just a few minutes around sunset time for a few photos in the best light of the day!  

TIP:  If your ceremony and reception are at one place, it's best to add a little more time during the getting ready portion of the day.  This would allow your photographer to photograph the bride and bridesmaids and groom with his groomsmen and not have to do those later! 

photo of bridal party in front of the palace at somerset park in nj using natural light

Do I need my photographers until the very end?

This varies from wedding to wedding but a good suggestion would be until cake cutting or a grand exit (sparklers, lanterns, etc.).  Cake cutting is usually the last major event of the day and a good time for the photographer to leave.  They will have documented plenty of dancing by then as well.  If you are planning a grand exit or a faux exit such as sparklers, this can be done two ways; at the very end of the night as a "send off" or staged after cake cutting with your bridal party and close family members.  Understand that these are just suggestions!  Some of the best dancing happens after cake cutting and if you think you're going to have a wild party and want it documented, we can stay until the very end!

sparkler photo without flash by jacnjules at Covered Bridge Barn in NY

Check out our next post, choosing the right location to get ready on your wedding day