When Should My Photographer Show Up?

As you're approaching your wedding day...one of the most common questions I am asked is:
"When should I have you, the photographer, show up on the day of my wedding"

Great question, and like many answers when planning a wedding I say...it depends!

When I am asked this question, there is a lot more I need to find out about your day before I give you an answer. A few of those questions are: 

-When is your hair appointment?
-Do you want a photographer present when you are getting ready? Such as during your hair or makeup appointment?
-Will photos with family and wedding party be before or after the ceremony?
-What time is your reception?
-What time is your ceremony?
-How large is your family and how many combinations of family photos are you looking for?
-Are we changing locations for ceremony and family/bridal party photos? How far away are the locations?
-Will your bridal party and family be on time? (if not, make sure to tell them to arrive much earlier than the actual time for photos)
-Will you be having a second photographer? If we have a second photographer we can split up and do double-duty photographing at the same time. 

In general, I ask couples to plan on between 1.5-4 hours for staged photos. That includes photos of the bride and groom, wedding party, and all family photos.

Yes, that is a HUGE range, but each couple is different. If we are going to one or two other locations, we need to think of travel time (and if you're not all on a bus, time for anyone not from the area to get lost when trying to find the spot!). If we are setting up all photos inside a church, there will be less time needed for photos simply due to there being no travel time. If you want photos to be relaxed and not rushed then plan for more time rather than less. 

Typically you will want to have between 30 minutes to an hour of down time prior to the ceremony to leave the immediate ceremony space (so that when guests are arriving you are not seen by your guests) and do any last minute hair/makeup fixes as well as grab a snack, drink water, etc. 

What I advise is to start at the time of your ceremony and work backwards: 

5:00 p.m Ceremony
4:15 p.m Finish Photos and take a break
3:40 p.m Family Photos at the Ceremony Site
2:50 p.m Bridal Party Photos
2:15 p.m Photos of the Bride/Groom
2:00 p.m First Look 
1:15 p.m Finishing touches- bride puts on dress, jewelry, etc. then move to first look location
12:30 Wedding Party starts dressing, men put on boutineers
8:00 a.m/10:00 a.m Hair/Makeup (this timing will depend on your hair stylist)

This is a typical schedule, but many weddings vary from 1-2 hours from this schedule. This would be an example of a smaller family, with less combinations of extended family photographs, as well as all photos at/near ceremony location. 

If you're not wanting photos of getting ready, then I would not start til say 1:30/1:45 when the bride is already dressed and ready to go! 

Now for the end time! 
Let's say your ceremony starts at 5:00 (as shown in the example above) 

5:00 Ceremony 
5:30 Ceremony ends
5:30-6:15 Receiving line/Guests dismissed and bubble/streamer exit with bride
6:30-7:00 Cocktails (party bus for wedding party)
7:15 Entrance of wedding party
7:30 Dinner
8:15-9:00 Toasts, Cake Cutting, First Dances 
9:00-9:30 Open Dance (or dollar dance)
9:30-9:45 Bouquet/Garter Toss

Every wedding will be different in here, from ceremony time to cocktail hour...the best way to find the timeline for this is to talk to your venue about how many guests you expect, and how long dinner will take (buffet will differ in times than a meal being served to guests for example). 

Still looking for more guidance? I'm more than happy to discuss your unique wedding day plans and photography schedule with you! 

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