How Long Do Wedding Photos Take After the Ceremony

How Long Do Wedding Photos Take After the Ceremony

If you’re getting married, you’re probably wondering how long wedding photos will take on your wedding day. Will they delay the start of the wedding reception? How much time should you allot for them? Do you still need to do photos after the ceremony if you do a first look? Most wedding timelines allot about an hour for photos. But this can vary depending on the size of the wedding party as well as the type of wedding you’re having. In this post, we’ll break down how long wedding photos usually take and give you an idea of what to expect.

How Long Do Wedding Photos Take After the Ceremony

How Long Do Wedding Photos Take After the Ceremony

You can expect to have around 45-60 minutes after the end of the ceremony to take photos. This will typically be during cocktail hour and before the grand entrance. If you’re having a Catholic wedding, or a wedding earlier in the day and a reception later in the afternoon, then naturally you’ll have much more time between events for photos.

If you have not done a first look or any photos before the ceremony, then typically you’ll spend most of this time taking more “formal” photos.

The formal photos will typically be broken down into 4 groups. And will in almost all cases, take more than 30 minutes.

  1. Extended Family photos
  2. Immediate Family photos
  3. Wedding Party photos
  4. Couple photos

Note – almost always, there is a photo with the officiant and the couple. And this is almost always the first photo, as that person(s) is looking to leave to change clothes or has another wedding they need to get to.

How Long Do Wedding Photos Take After the Ceremony

Extended Family Photos: 10 minutes

Most wedding photographers will start with extended family photos first. They’re needed in fewer photos and will allow them to get to cocktail hour sooner. And reduce the number of people in the photo area. In an effort to save time, most people break down extended family into either 2 or 4 groupings, depending on preference.

  1. Partner 1 side extended family, and Partner 2 side extended family
  2. Partner 1 maternal side extended family, Partner 1 paternal side extended family; Partner 2 maternal side extended family, and Partner 2 maternal side extended family.

Depending on how fast your families move and how your photographer works, you can also expect this to take around 5-10 minutes.

Another option couples sometimes want is to break out the extended family photos into smaller groupings.

So rather than combine 2 or 3 sets of aunts, uncles, and cousins into one photo, break them up into 2 or 3 (or more) sets of photos.

This can double the time it takes to do extended family photos and you’ll want to keep that in mind as you plan your timeline and your grand entrance time.

Also, keep in mind, that it’s not uncommon for parents or other family members to request a last-minute photo that’s not on the list.

If there is one place to run into delays, this is it. It is relatively common that someone doesn’t stay behind for photos and delays the timeline. The most common reason is they didn’t know they were part of photos and left for cocktail hour. While the 5 to 10 minutes it typically takes to track down missing people doesn’t seem like a lot, when you’re trying to get everything completed in around 45 minutes, it’s a big delay. The best thing you can do to prevent this is:

  1. Tell all close family members at rehearsal dinner they’re part of photos and not to leave.
  2. Assign someone from each side of the family to tell them before the ceremony starts that they’re part of photos and not to leave


Wedding Photos Timeline sample

Immediate Family Photos: 10 minutes

There are 2 typical groupings with immediate family photos that most couples want.

Grouping 1:

Partner 1 & 2 with Partner 1’s parents

Partner 1 & 2 with Partner 1’s parents and Partner 1’s siblings

The same with Partner 2’s parents and siblings

Partner 1 & 2 with both sets of parents

Grouping 2:

Partner 1 & 2 with Partner 1’s parents

Partner 1 & 2 with Partner 1’s parents and Partner 1’s siblings

Partner 1 only with Partner 1’s parents and siblings

Partner 1 only with each immediate family member

The same with Partner 2 and Partner 2’s parents and siblings

Of course, if there are divorces, you’ll want to add additional time to accommodate the additional photos.

Wedding Party Photos: 10-15 minutes

Wedding party or bridal party photos, or wedding party portraits as they’re sometimes called, are pretty straightforward of your wedding photography timeline. You’ll typically do Partner 1’s side with Partner 1, then Partner 2’s side with Partner 2, and then Partner 1 & 2 with the full wedding party.

Other options that people sometimes like to include:

  1. Individual photos of Partner 1 with each member of Partner 1’s wedding party.
  2. The same for Partner 2


wedding photography timeline

Couple Photos: 10-20 minutes

You’ll typically conclude with couple photos (or couple portraits, or couples session, as they’re sometimes called). You’ll want to savor this time because it’s one of the few parts of the day you’re together and alone. And if you didn’t have a first look, then it’s the first, and probably the only time you’ll be alone on your wedding day! (Depending on when this is taking place, you could potentially be alone together again if you have sunset photos scheduled). Usually, you should plan for 10-20 minutes (not including any travel time you might have), but depending on the time of the day and if you have the time, or your photographer needs, you might want to plan for 20-30 minutes.

Speeding things up

If you’re worried that time is going to be tight on your big day, you can’t delay the grand entrance and you want to do more to ensure things will run on time, you can consider having a friend or family member be in charge of getting extended family together for family portraits. This means making sure while group 1 is getting their photo made, group 2 has been gathered, and is waiting.

You can also reduce the number of groupings and save smaller groupings for the reception. Use the time before dinner, or just after dinner (if possible) to take a few of those other extended family or friend group photos.

Another place to speed things up is to set aside a few minutes in your wedding day timeline in the morning or afternoon for individual portraits. This can be accomplished before the wedding ceremony in a hotel room. Or in the bridal suite or hotel after you’ve put the wedding dress on.

Your photographer will often do individual bride and groom portraits to include as part of the edited photos.


wedding photography schedule


If you have videography, you’ll want to touch base with them to see how much time they’ll need in addition to photography (if any). Typically, videography doesn’t need additional time for extended family and immediate family photos. They’ll often want just a minute with the wedding party, but it is relatively easy.

What you’re mainly looking for is the time they might want during couple photos. Depending on the videographer, they’ll either just work off what your photographer is doing and need minimal additional time; or they’ll have their own style in which they’ll want their own to control their process to create the work you hired them for. This can typically add 5-10 minutes to the couple’s photos.

Wedding Day Timeline

Hopefully, this post will help you develop the right plan for your wedding day photos. I can’t stress enough the importance of a properly made wedding day timeline to keep your wedding relaxed, easy, and on budget. If you’re finding the process to be too time-consuming and overwhelming, consider having our AI make your wedding day timeline in 5 minutes. We are able to take care of all the times, including ceremony and reception, and we know how plan from minutes to an hour. You can learn more here.


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