Here are two sample timelines we like for group images at weddings with and without a first look and below are five pieces of advice on how to handle group photos on your wedding day. I know there is a lot to think about but we hope this article helps you with a few ideas which will cut down on any stress you have and make your wedding day that much more stress-free and fun. If you have questions always feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to help.
TRADITIONAL – NO FIRST LOOK (5p ceremony as example)
- 2:30 – 3:00 Bride gets dressed early if we’re doing bridal portraits ahead of the group photos
- 3:00 – 3:30 Either bride’s dressing OR bridal portraits (if she didn’t already do them)
- 3:30 – 4:00 Bride and Bridesmaids + Bride’s immediate family and grandparents
- 4:00 – 4:30 Groom and Groomsmen + Grooms immediate family and possibly grandparents
- 4:30 – 5:00 Resting before the ceremony
- 5:00p – 5:45 Ceremony
- 5:45 – 6:15 After ceremony group photos
- 6:15 – 6:30 Photos of bride and groom ( this is just 15 minutes but it’s often necessary to move quick at this time because your guests are already at the cocktail hour and everyone wants to get the party started)
FIRST LOOK TIMELINE
- 2:30 – 3:00 Bride + groom get dressed (important to be on time here)
- 3:00 – 3:30 First look/ Photos of bride and groom alone + bridal portraits (if needed)
- 3:30 – 4:00 Wedding party photos (all)
- 4:00 – 4:30 Immediate Family photos + grandparents
- 4:30 – 5:00 Resting before the ceremony
- 5:00p – 5:45 Ceremony
- 5:45 – 6:00 After ceremony group photos (IF NEEDED). This is usually just extended family since everyone else was done beforehand.
- 5:45 – 6:00 Photos of just bride and groom in better light if we’re near sunset or we can have a minute to try some more creative ideas
- If you want to cut down on the time it takes after your wedding for group photos we recommend photographing as many groups as possible before the ceremony. This is pretty standard for most weddings today but it’s still great advice and it will eliminate the hour-long group photo session after a ceremony. We try as often as possible to photograph not just the wedding party but also parents, siblings, and even grandparents ahead of the ceremony if possible. Afterwards, that leaves just groups like extended family and images where both of you are needed in the same image (if you didn’t do first look).
- We recommend starting group photos 1.5 hours before your ceremony or 2 hours before if you’re going to do first look. All groups should be finished 30 minutes before the ceremony begins to allow time for guests to get seated.
- We strongly recommend that the women have their photos done first so that the bride isn’t out and around when guests arrive but also because it gives more time to relax and prepare for the ceremony afterward. This little change can make you so much less stressed on the day because if you’re running behind schedule for any reason having time to make adjustments is critical.
Even if we have to move the groom and groomsmen photos to after the ceremony or during the last 30 minutes before the ceremony we want the bride to be able to get her photos done and still have time to relax before heading down the aisle. If the ladies were to go second and there was a delay we really have no options other than to push until after the ceremony which can ripple the timeline and cause the wedding party to be delayed getting to the reception or we have to cut out images she really wants. Being on time for your photos is really critical for a stress-free wedding day which is why we try to help as much as possible both on the day of the wedding and during planning.
- If you’re going to do a first look we recommend doing that 2 hours before the ceremony, which sounds like a lot but that gives just 30 minutes for that moment and a few portraits of you and your groom, 30 minutes for wedding party photos and 30 minutes for family photos before our deadline to be finished with all groups 30 minutes before the ceremony. Depending on the venue and time of year we sometimes even extend that to 2.5+ hours before the ceremony to give more time for moving around and/or weather concerns. If there is transportation involved like from a hotel to a venue you’ll have to account for that time too and just know that if it takes 15 minutes to do something by yourself it takes twice as long for a bus with a wedding party at a minimum.
- If you want amazing images of yourselves at sunset, then you’ll need to plan that time into your schedule separately from your group images depending on when sunset falls in your wedding day timeline. Now, this is where it can get a little tricky. You have to know your venue.
- If you’re in a big open area like with a barn wedding or a country club you can typically wait longer, maybe even close or slightly after actual sunset to make images. Just after sunset for a very short period, the light is gorgeous and soft since it’s just the sky lighting you without the sun to create harsh light.
- On the other hand, if you’re in an area with buildings like a downtown setting and there’s lots of shade if you wait too long to go out it will just be dark and flat feeling outside. In those cases, you would want to be out 30 minutes or an hour before sunset to get the best light.
BONUS: The #1 thing that puts your pre-wedding timeline behind is hair and makeup. Please plan with your MUA to be done with your hair and makeup well before you need to get dressed to give buffer time in case you need to make changes or if they’re just running behind. If you plan to be finished say 30-45 minutes before dressing, you’ll be so much less stressed, and you’ll have time to make adjustments if needed. Many of the MUA s we work with are real pros but there are always times when things need adjustment and that takes time, so give them time just in case you need it.
BONUS 2: We love taking our clients out at night to make a few special images of them in a different setting than where the ceremony took place. We’ll scout ahead of time and plan our lighting ideas so that when we ask them to leave the party, it’s usually just for 5-10 minutes but that’s when we can be creative with stars, the city at night or anything creative we can find at the venue. It’s become something we’re known to do and it often yields the favorite portraits of the day.
Stephanie and Joe