"How long do I need for photos on my wedding day?" is probably the most asked question by Brides & Grooms to their wedding photographer!

Second to perhaps only the Guest List or Seating Plan, the Wedding Timeline is probably the most difficult thing to arrange - unless you have a fantastic wedding planner who can do it all for you, that is!

But still, there are a few things as a Bride-to-be you need to think about.  The most important one is allowing enough time after your wedding reception for your wedding photos.

The first thing people think of is that they don't want their guests to be 'standing around' or waiting for ages - trust me, they wont be.  After all the weddings I have photographed, I've never seen any wedding guest looking bored or impatient with a glass of bubbly in their hands and catching up with old friends and family!

Jo & Phil's Wedding Preview-Notton-House-Photography-10.jpg

Before we get started on exactly how long you need for photos on your wedding day, there are several things you should consider when organising your 'day of' wedding schedule. 

1.  Figure out the time it takes to travel from the ceremony location to the reception venue if you are getting married somewhere else.  

Don't just Google it though, go and make the journey yourself, on a Saturday (if you're getting married on a Saturday!) at the time of day that you & your guests will be travelling.  Things like roadworks, local events or holidays can all have a big impact on your journey time - as can narrow windy roads or an accident on the motorway if you have to use one!

Got the time?  Now add on 15 minutes.  This allows for anything that may come up on the wedding day as well as if you are running late for the ceremony!

2.  Next, you'll need to think about what sort of photographs you want taken.  

For example, if you are going for a completely reportage / documentary style wedding, you wont have any formal / posed photos at all.  This is actually highly unlikely as most Brides & Grooms still want family photos, the bridal party & photos of the two of them (usually called the Newlywed Session or the Creative Portraits).  If this is you but you're thinking that you don't want 'posed' photos, read this blog post to help you out.

3.  How many groupings do you want?

The most common groups are:

  • Bridal Party 
  • Bridal Party + Parents of Bride & Groom
  • Bride & Groom with her Parents
  • Bride & Groom with his Parents
  • Bride & Groom with both sets of Parents
  • Bride & Groom with her immediate family (parents, siblings & nieces / nephews)
  • Bride & Groom with his immediate family (parents, siblings & nieces / nephews)
  • Bride & Groom with her entire family (including Aunts, Uncles, Cousins etc)
  • Bride & Groom with his entire family (including Aunts, Uncles, Cousins etc)
  • Bride & Groom with both families (including Aunts, Uncles, Cousins etc)
  • Bride & Groom with their friends (this can be done split in to his friends & her friends too)
  • Big Group Photo

Then there is all the other groups you could have, for example:

  • University friends
  • School friends
  • Colleagues
  • Hen Party
  • Stag Party
  • Hen Party Plus (the friends that couldn't come to the hen party!)
  • Stag Party Plus (yep, this is a thing too!)

Also bear in mind that I have never once photographed a wedding where at least 5 of the guests haven't come up to me and asked if they can have beautiful photograph with the Bride, Groom & Uncle Bob, too!

Before you know it, you have around 20 group photos!  But fear not...

4.  How many of the group photos do YOU actually want?

This is your 'Must Have' list.  It is your wedding after all.  Group photographs take around 10 minutes each on average.  This isn't just the time for the photographer to actually take the photos, but usually its for rounding up guests who have gone to the bar or to find the toilet.  Guaranteed, at some point, we'll be all set, I'll check with you that no-one is missing and someone will say..."Where has Uncle Bob gone?"  Then 2 people will go off to find him (at the bar!) and we wait another few minutes for 3 people to return!  It's all part and parcel of the wedding day! 

The important thing here is to discuss between yourselves which group is on your Must Have list - I'd pick 8 from the first list and 1 or 2 maximum from the second list.  Allow 10 minutes per group and we have a time set for your formal photos!

Just one more (and very important) part left to photograph - you!

5.  Your Creative Portraits

These are the photographs that you REALLY want, and strangely, the ones that get left until last and have the least amount of time. :(  Allow a minimum of 30 minutes for your creative portraits (aka newlywed session) if not an hour.  If you are going to a separate location for your portraits, then add on the time it takes to get there and back too.

So, "How long do I need for Photos on my Wedding Day?"

Simply add these times together and you have how long you need for photos in your wedding:  

The Formula:

travel time + 15 minutes,


number of 'Must Have' group photos x 10 minutes


30-60 minutes Creative Portraits (+ travel if needed)

Specifically for you.  Don't rely on people who say "oh, we can get them done in half an hour" - they realistically can't.  You'll end up missing out on groups, missing people from important photos or the photograph simply not being set up properly.  

And as we all know...

"At the end of the day, when the cake is eaten and all the guests leave,

all you'll have left is your husband and your photographs"

If you're worried about what you're guests will be doing during that time (other than sipping champagne, nibbling on canapes, catching up with family & friends and wooing over how fabulous you look!)  you could always look in to hiring or buying some lawn games, having a magician, or table trivia around to keep them amused!

Click here to download the Magic Formula and save it for future use!