How long should wedding photos take?

With the diversity of our weddings’ cultural aspects, it isn’t easy to pinpoint an exact wedding photography timeline template. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography. However, there are ideal time frames you should consider when planning your day. Some of these times may seem long on paper but keep in mind that:

The day will fly by.

  1. Most weddings run slightly behind schedule.
  2. We’ll make these photo sessions fun so that it won’t seem like a long time.

How Much Time To Allow For Wedding Photos

While the most amazing wedding photos may look effortless, there is a good deal of time that goes into creating those incredible images. Therefore, creating a wedding photography timeline is an absolute must. But how much time do you need to reserve to take your photos? And what does a wedding photography timeline look like?

Here is the best way to plan your wedding photography timeline:

Figure out the portraits you want.

While the main focus of your wedding portrait session will be you and your spouse, you will probably want photos of your wedding party and families, too. Most photographers provide a “suggested formals list” of portrait groupings that you can refer to and edit based on your needs. While your parents may insist take formal portraits with all distant relatives, remember that the more pictures you take, the more time you will spend away from your big day. Try to keep your formal portraits to a minimum (Jasmine suggests 15 groupings for family portraits) and include only your wedding party, immediate family members, and perhaps a few particular relatives.

Decide on locations.

Now that you’ve decided who will be included in your wedding portraits, it’s time to figure out where you’ll be taking the photos. The most comfortable locations are your ceremony and reception venues, of course, but the hotel where you’re getting ready can also be the right spot. Suppose there’s a particular location where you’ve always dreamed of taking your wedding photos (a local beach or park, a neighbourhood in your city, etc.). In that case, you’ll have to factor the travel time into your wedding photography timeline—and plan for transportation so that all of your VIPs get there safely and on time.

Settle the “first look” debate.

You are choosing whether or not to do a “first look” is a personal decision. Many photographers think it’s a good idea because it allows you to take many of your wedding photos before your ceremony so that you can enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests. If you decide to stick with tradition and wait until the ceremony to see your partner, you can expect to spend your entire cocktail hour (and possibly more) taking portraits. Be sure to decide which path you prefer to take before creating your wedding photography timeline.

Know how long wedding photos will take.

Talk to your wedding photographer about how long they will need to take the different wedding portraits. For the best results, photographers agree that wedding party portraits take about 30 minutes. Family portraits take about 30 minutes (if you’re sticking with only photographing close family), and couple portraits take between 45 minutes to an hour. If you have a “first look,” all of these can be completed before the ceremony. If you do not have a “first look,” you can still take separate family portraits and photos of the wedding party before the ceremony. Yet, any pictures with the couple together will be taken during cocktail hour.

Write it out and spread the word.

Work with your wedding planner to create a fully written-out schedule of your wedding day, including the wedding photography timeline. Add 5 minutes of “buffer” time throughout the day to account for any hiccups, and don’t forget to factor in travel time if you’re moving between locations. Be sure that all of your VIPs are aware of this schedule and know where to be at what time. Even if you’re the “always early” type, weddings have a funny way of running late—so encourage your loved ones to stick to the schedule.

When Is A Good Time To Begin The Wedding Day Photography?

Fifteen minutes to one hour before you put your dress on.

When you’re getting ready with your mom and closest family and friends has a different atmosphere than the rest of your wedding day. It’s relaxed, light-hearted, and informal. These pictures are a lovely way to “open” the story of your wedding day in your album.

Ideally, we recommend that you begin wedding day photography about an hour before you step into your wedding dress. It’s also possible to start just 15 minutes before you put on your wedding dress if you need to keep the photography within a specific limit.

However, some of our clients don’t want “getting ready” pictures at all. That’s fine, too! You can also start with “first look” pictures, or even just half an hour before the ceremony. It’s a matter of what is important to you and what you want to be documented on your wedding day.

Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

How Do You Decide Whether To Do A” first Look” Or Wait Until The Ceremony To See Each Other?

What’s More Important To You, Not Missing The Cocktail Hour Or Him Seeing You For The First Time As You Walk Down The Aisle?

How long should wedding photos take?

We don’t personally prefer one or the other — they are equally valid choices and beautiful for photography.

First of all, what is a “first look”? A “first look” is a mini portrait session held right after the bride has finished getting ready when the groom sees her for the first time. Usually, couples decide to do a “first look” instead of waiting to see each other for the first time during the ceremony because of the schedule. If there isn’t a lot of time between the ceremony and reception for portraits, or if you don’t want to miss a single minute of the cocktail hour, it’s better to do a “first look” and have portraits taken before the ceremony.

It’s nice to choose a picturesque spot in advance for the first look and possibly recruit some friends or members of the wedding party to help organise it logistically. Just talk to your photographer, and he or she will help you with all the details and make sure it’s one of the most memorable moments of your wedding day.

However, some couples need to wait for the ceremony to see the bride for the first time as she walks down the aisle. It is a decisive moment that usually generates a lot of emotion, both in the groom and everybody watching the ceremony. If your wedding day schedule is more flexible and you have enough time for a portrait session after the ceremony, waiting to see each other is an attractive choice. Looking for wedding photography Melbourne? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

How Long Do Family And Wedding Party Portrait Sessions Take?

  • Small Family Portrait Sessions: About 15-20 Minutes
  • Big Family Portrait Sessions: About 45 Minutes
  • Little Wedding Party Portrait Sessions: About 10-15 Minutes
  • Big Wedding Party Portrait Sessions: About 25-30 Minutes

Photograph family portrait sessions fast, which keeps people’s expressions more natural. It’s hard to be relaxed when you’re standing frozen with the same smile on your face for more than a few seconds… so it’s helpful to have a photographer who has a lot of experience wrangling families for portrait sessions and who can keep the atmosphere light, fast-paced, and fun.

To give you a ballpark range on how extended family portrait sessions take, let’s assume the example of a bride and groom who each have two parents and two siblings but no other immediate family members. This would usually take about 15 minutes or 20 minutes at the most.

For brides and grooms with prominent families (maybe including grandparents, stepparents, and married siblings with children), the portrait session would usually take about 45 minutes.

A small wedding party portrait session — including the bride and groom and just one or two bridesmaids and groomsmen — would take about 10 minutes. An extensive wedding party portrait session — with 7 or 8 bridesmaids and groomsmen on each side, or even more — would take about 25 minutes. However, if portraits with your wedding party is a big deal to you, and you want to have a lot of fun with them, it’s possible to spend more time (and be more outrageous and silly!) on these portrait sessions.

Just tell your photographer what matters most to you and how many people are involved, and they will be able to help you estimate the exact amount of time the family and wedding party portraits will take.

Is It Important To Have A Shot List For The Portrait Session?

If The Portrait Session Is Very Important To You, A Shot List Is Helpful. If Candids Are More Important To You, A Shot List Isn’t Necessary.

It all depends on your taste, style, and personality. For some of our clients, the family and wedding party portraits are significant, and they prefer to keep things as organised as possible. We have a section on our client questionnaire where brides and grooms can give us a detailed shot list and all the different portrait combinations they want.

Formal portraits are much less critical for other clients, and they care much more about candid photographs. Sometimes they don’t give us any shot list at all. This is also completely fine; Kyo still takes some formal-style portraits (it’s always lovely to make Mom or Grandma happy), but he keeps them as quick and relaxed as possible.

Suppose there are any personality conflicts in your family (or divorced parents who don’t get along, for example). In that case, it’s a good idea to think in advance about how you will arrange the portraits and how to swap people in and out of the pictures without making anyone feel uncomfortable.

We recommend that you find a good friend or relative who can act as a “portrait session traffic cop,” helping direct people in and out of the pictures. That way, you don’t have to do the job yourself, and you can be more relaxed knowing that you’ve put the process in good hands.

How Long Do Portraits Of Just The Bride And Groom Take?

20-30 Minutes Per Location, Up To An Hour Or More Total

The portrait session with just the two of you is such a particular time — it’s the only time on your wedding day when you have a chance to be alone together. Some of the couples we work with schedule an entire hour or more just for bride and groom portraits, and they always end up telling us how glad they were that they took that time to be together, enjoy each other’s company, and capture the moment.

The exact amount of time your portrait session will involve depends on the number of locations where you want to have your pictures were taken and the time and traffic required to travel from one place to the next. Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here.



You are letting your photographer know if there will be a receiving line after the ceremony is significant. This is because receiving lines usually take a long time — after all, every single person at your ceremony will be personally congratulating you!

Receiving lines generally take about 25 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the wedding. Since they are so time-intensive, make sure you budget enough time in your schedule if you decide to have a receiving line.

How Long Should Your Photographer Stay At The Reception?

If Possible, Until The Very End!

We are big fans of candid photographs, and as your wedding reception loosens up, with people dancing, drinking, and having a grand ol’ time, there tend to be lots of fabulous candid shots. So for us, our first recommendation would be that you have your photographer stay until the very end of the reception (and even photograph the “send-off”, which can be an exhilarating and touching moment).

However, sometimes your budget requires that you make hard choices. If you can’t have your photographer stay until the end of the reception, you can have them photograph just the beginning with the first dance and toasts. You can also coordinate with your venue and caterer; they can help you plan the schedule, so you cut the cake early and get fun pictures of that before your photographer leaves.

Ideal Times For Your Photography

How long should wedding photos take?


  • Ideal Time Allotment – 30 minutes
  • Perfect Time of the Day – Morning
  • Perfect Location – Bridal Suite or Hotel Suite

There are times when a hotel room is too crowded or entirely unappealing; we have to take the dress all the way down to the lobby or even outside. This can take some time, but it’s well worth the additional work, as you can see from the results.


  • Ideal Time Allotment – 60 minutes
  • Perfect Time of the Day – Morning or Early Afternoon
  • Perfect Location – Bridal Suite or Hotel Suite

This includes getting close-ups of the makeup and hair being applied and the candid moments, and the bridesmaids and groomsmen get ready for the day. Keep in mind that these are some of the most emotional and fun times of the day, so you don’t want to cut it short.


  • Ideal Time Allotment – 30 minutes
  • Perfect Time of the Day – Morning or Early Afternoon
  • Perfect Location – Bridal Suite, Hotel Suite, Venue Lobby, or Venue Garden

Right after prep is the best time for individual portraits of the bride and groom (separately). Besides makeup and hair being completely fresh, the day hasn’t gotten hectic, yet so you can take your time and get those perfect portraits.

Also, keep in mind that the window lighting in most hotel rooms creates a unique look that can’t be duplicated in any environment throughout the day. Starting to think about hiring a wedding photographer? Check out our range of Mornington Peninsula wedding photography here.


  • Ideal Time Allotment – 45-60 minutes
  • Perfect Time of the Day – Morning or Early Afternoon
  • Perfect Location – Venue Garden, Empty Venue Hallway (shaded areas with natural light)

The first look should be around 45-60 minutes. During this time, the bride and groom enjoy seeing each other for the first time on the wedding day. While the actual first look might only be 5-10 minutes, the rest of the time is spent on a few raw portraits of the bride and groom.

You can save the bulk of the couples session for later. However, if there is no other time in the day, it is best to allocate another 45 minutes to an hour to make sure we have enough photos of just you two.


  • Ideal Time Allotment – 45-60 minutes
  • Perfect Time of the Day – Morning or Afternoon
  • Perfect Location -Venue Lobby, Venue Garden, Beach, Park, Off-site Location

Wedding Party Photos should be around 45 minutes to 1 hour. During this time, we get a variety of shots in a variety of poses. Start with the raw, classic photos focused on great expressions and lighting.

Move into a set of fun and creative shots. Finally, get pictures with the couple and each one of their bridesmaids or groomsmen individually.


  • Ideal Time Allotment – 30-45 minutes
  • Perfect Time of the Day – Morning or Afternoon
  • Perfect Location -Venue Lobby, Venue Garden, Beach, Park, Off-site Location

Immediate Family Photos should take another 45 minutes. It’s essential to have additional images with the couple’s parents, grandparents, and siblings beyond the basic formal.

Plan on 3 minutes per group on average. For example, if you have ten groups, schedule in a 30-minute time slot.


  • Ideal Time Allotment – 30 minutes
  • Perfect Location – Ceremony Site
  • Perfect Time of the Day – Morning or Afternoon

Allow 30 minutes for the second shooter to take pictures of the ceremony site, completely set up with no guests or vendors in the area. Before the guests are seated, you must be there to capture the complete set up of your ceremony site so you can capture the scene at its best.


  • Ideal Time Allotment – 45-60 minutes
  • Perfect Time of the Day – Morning or Afternoon (Post Ceremony)
  • Perfect Location – Ceremony Site

Formals should take around 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your family’s size and guests’ number. Plan on 3 minutes per group on average. For example, if you have ten groups, schedule in a 30-minute time slot.

Some couples have decided that they want a picture with all guests, while others have decided to only want photos with select VIPs to save time. We recommend something in between.


  • Ideal Time Allotment – 1 hour
  • Perfect Time of the Day – Late Afternoon (Sunset)
  • Perfect Location – Venue Garden, Beach, Hotel Lobby, Park

Couple sessions should be around 1 hour and should take place ideally 30 to 45 minutes before sunset. This is the best time in terms of lighting. It also allows capturing fantastic scenic shots with colourful skies. If the wedding is downtown or an area with tall buildings, we don’t have to have this specific time frame (although it still helps).

However, if the venue is booked because of the ocean’s spectacular view or the gorgeous vines in the winery, it’s essential to follow this advice in your timeline.


  • Ideal Time Allotment – 30 minutes
  • Perfect Time of the Day – Early Evening
  • Perfect Location – Reception Site

Please allow 30 minutes for the second shooter to take pictures of the reception room, completely set up with no guests or vendors in the area. Like the ceremony details, this is the only opportunity we have to capture the reception room’s beauty before guest arrival.


  • Ideal Time Allotment – 10-15 minutes
  • Perfect Time of the Day – At the end of Cocktail Hour before doors open for guests
  • Perfect Location – Reception Site

This is when the reception space is revealed to the couple for the first time. It’s an excellent opportunity to capture a genuine reaction, as well as a moment alone with the dance floor to practice your first dance, which also makes a great photo!


  • Ideal Time Allotment – 20-30 minutes
  • Perfect Time of the Day – Dusk to Night-Time
  • Perfect Location – Areas with attractive lights, fountains, cityscapes and mirrors

During the reception, please plan on sneaking out for a couple of night shots. We only need 20-30 minutes, as we understand the importance of being a good host. However, this time is essential if you appreciate the night photography that we deliver. The ideal time for this is right after you grab a bite to eat or during the open floor dancing after you’ve danced a few songs and would like a break. Another suggestion would be to get these shots at the very end of the night once all the guests have departed.

Additional Wedding Day Details

Table Shots: Table shots are when you go around visiting tables. There are two options for photography during this time. (1) You can take formal pictures with each of these tables, or (2) we can focus on photojournalism, capturing the smiles and hugs as you mingle with each table. If you’re planning on doing formal table shots, please keep in mind that these will take about 3-5 minutes per table. For example, 20 tables would require 60-100 minutes. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

Cultural Weddings: For cultural weddings like Indian weddings, there are elements like the Baraat that require time to photograph.