Creating a Wedding Day Timeline: Portraits

Advice from a wedding photographer on how much time to schedule for portraits when planning your wedding day timeline. | Click to see the full blog post!

There are a few things to consider when deciding how much time you need to allow for portraits on your wedding day:

  • Do you want to see eachother before the ceremony?
  • How many people are in your wedding party?
  • Do you want portraits at one location or multiple locations?
  • How many family arrangements do you have for family formals?
  • Do you want an entire group photo?
  • Where do you want your family portraits taken?


I suggest a first look to all of my clients. Not only does it allow for scheduling portraits before your wedding ceremony and enjoying your cocktail hour with your guests, it is also a beautiful and private moment for you to share together. You will be sharing the rest of your wedding day with all of your family and friends – a first look is a great opportunity to enjoy eachother’s company before the craziness.

First looks can be orchestrated however you would like. You can stand back to back, you can wear a blindfold, you can stand around a corner from one another. My second shooter and I will help orchestrate the entire thing and catch both of your reactions to seeing eachother for the first time.


I recommend allotting 45 minutes for portraits of the two of you. This can be at one location, or split over several locations. Planning for 45 minutes will allow you to relax in your photos.

If we are shooting at a location away from your ceremony or reception venue, or shooting at multiple locations, please factor in travel time when creating your timeline. Shooting your portraits at your ceremony or reception venue eliminates travel time. Staying at the venue works best if there are private areas away from your guests to use for portraits. This will prevent you from being interrupted by your guests, as well as avoiding any uncomfortable feelings due to having an audience.


Assuming that you have an average sized wedding party (2-4 per side), plan for 30 minutes for portraits. This allows time for posed and candid whole group shots, posed and candid shots with both sides, as well as individual posed and candid shots. My second shooter and I will divide and conquer after the whole group photos to make this time run as efficiently as possible.


Please leave 3 minutes per family grouping. To make family portraits as smooth as possible, I will ask you for a list of your groupings 2 weeks prior to the wedding. Arranging for a family member to wrangle missing people will also aid in efficiency (and keep me from shouting at your wedding! ;D). Most couples have 8 to 12 groupings, so I recommend between 25 and 35 minutes for family portraits.

When deciding on a location for your family portraits, as close as possible to your ceremony location is best. A short walk to the portrait location will help keep your gamily from getting lost or distracted. (Traveling between locations often results in guests getting stuck in traffic, stopping for gas or snacks, or making a pit stop at the hotel.)


Anticipate that your group photo will take longer than you are expecting. I recommend planning for 20 minutes. Have seating available for grandparents and other elderly guests, or have them seated elsewhere until the majority of your guests are in place for the group photo. Group photos work best if your ceremony venue has a staircase large enough for all of your guests, or a balcony for me to shoot from.