What Time Should the Wedding Photographer Arrive

  • Publication date: 06/25/2022
  • Updated: 03/28/2023

A photographer is one of the most important people at any wedding. After the bride and groom, of course. It’s the photographer’s work that’ll preserve all the best moments of your wedding, which will make you smile after years of married life. The question is what time they should arrive. Wezoree has the answer!

P.S. We hope you made the right decision and chose the best photographer to fulfill your dreams, but if you still doubt, here’s the article on how to compare wedding photographers right to eventually pick the one who fits all your needs. 

When should my photographer arrive for a wedding

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There’s no general rule about when all photographers are supposed to arrive at the weddings. It depends on several factors which need to be discussed before the big day. Regarding the experience we have, there are some things we think you should consider.

If you’re planning to shoot the getting-ready photos

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Not all photographers shoot the morning preparations and not all couples want those kinda pics. But if you do, follow the advice:

  1. Ask the photographer to arrive when your hair is done
  2. Arriving just after your hair is ready, but before makeup is a key to a successful start of the wedding photography timeline. In this case, the photographer will have time to shoot all the inanimate objects, like the dress, shoes, accessories, etc.

  3. Unpack the dress first
  4. Before you sit down to get your hair done, unpack the dress so that there won’t be any rush later.

  5. Add some time if your bridal party is big
  6. Discuss the amounts of shots you want with the photographer so that they can easily estimate the time needed for the photoshoot.

If you don’t want the getting-ready photos

When should your photographer arrive if you’re not planning the getting-ready photoshoot? It depends on the package you choose. If you agreed on 8-hour coverage and want your first dance to be captured, count back from this moment and you’ll get the right arrival time. Although, if you want to capture you walking down the aisle, the photographer is better to arrive 30 minutes before the ceremony.

How to calculate what time my wedding photographer should start?

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As we already said, the time when your photographer starts shooting depends on the package you choose or the contract that you sign. That’s why it’s important to calculate the timeline right and what’s even more vital, to stick to it. First of all, plan your wedding day hour by hour. Check out our guide to wedding photography timeline, and take a look at how long on average each wedding day photography part takes:

  1. Hair and makeup - approximately 2.5 hours
  2. This is usually enough for the bride and her party to get ready. 60 minutes is enough time for the photographer to shoot every detail.

  3. First look - 30 minutes
  4. Travel and portraits are included in the time. The actual first look takes only a few minutes and the rest of the time is spent on the bride’s and groom’s portraits.

  5. The ceremony - up to 90 minutes
  6. Different ceremonies need different amounts of time, you should mind that. For example, civil ceremonies take about 50 minutes, religious ceremonies - from 60 to 90 minutes, and non-religious ones - up to 45 minutes. The photographer needs 30-60 minutes to capture all the precious moments, depending on the ceremony’s type. Add some extra time (20 minutes will be enough) to capture the greetings and hugs right after the ceremony, as well.

  7. Wedding party pictures - up to 45 minutes
  8. Family pictures - up to 45 minutes
  9. Love story pictures - up to 45 minutes
  10. The perfect time is obviously one hour before the sunset.

  11. Reception: venue and details - 30 minutes, and 30 minutes after the first dance
  12. After you find out how much time you need to capture each part of the wedding, it’s much easier to calculate exactly when you need your photographer to start. Just pick the last point you need to be captured and start counting back!

Tips for a successful wedding photography timeline fulfillment

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Booking your vendor you have limited hours of shooting. That’s why you can’t get behind (if you’re not ready to pay the extra fee, of course). Wezoree knows the most common mistakes that can ruin your schedule, so read carefully!

Bridal preparation

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Planning the getting-ready photoshoot brides often forget that each person needs a different time to have their hair and makeup done. The travel time to the next location should also be taken into account! Some other things to remember:

  1. The room must be tidy
  2. The attire must be unpacked and ready to shoot
  3. Save some extra time for the hair and makeup artists

The ceremony

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Make sure your guests arrive a few minutes before you so that the photographer can do some quick portraits too. The little details of the ceremony and the venue must not be left out. Ask your early guests not to put bags or clothes on the seats, so that the photographer and videographer can take stunning shots of the venue.

Family and party portraits

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Being very excited about everything that’s going on it’s easy to forget about someone. Make a list of everyone you want a picture with and hand it to your photographer. This will save you some time, and you’ll be sure you won’t upset anyone.

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Natali Grace Levine Editor-in-Chief

Manages The Wezoree's content strategy
Writes and edits articles for the Inspiration Blog