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An ideal wedding photography timeline and how to make the most of your group photos.

While most weddings follow the same basic structure, each wedding day is a little different, so an exact to-the-minute timeline doesn’t exist. This article can be used as a guide when planning your event. Some of these times are longer than necessary; despite having a schedule, weddings can be unpredictable at times. It’s always a good idea to give yourself more time than needed, so if things were to run late (and they do) you wouldn’t be in any trouble.


60 to 90 minutes

At least one hour for preparation coverage is recommended. We start by capturing detail photos of the dress, rings, shoes, bouquets, and other important items. We are also getting close ups of the makeup and hair being finished up as well as the candid moments. Whether you are at home or in a hotel room, it’s important to reserve space for photos. With hair & makeup stations, luggage, and garment bags for an entire bridal party, things can get cluttered quickly. Set aside an area specifically for detail photos, and bridal preparations. We like to finish up preparations with some formal portraits before moving on to the next part of the day.

By capturing detail photos of the dress, rings, shoes, bouquets, and other important items a wonderful story is beginning to evolve. Capturing close ups of the makeup and hair being finished up as well as candid moments of your bridal party, family and friends is also very important to your story.
Creative detail photos are key to wonderful story-telling of your Once-In-A-Lifetime


60 to 90 minutes

Depending on the order of your day, the schedule may include a first look, which will take place right after preparations. We highly recommend this if your ceremony and reception are in the same place, otherwise you will not have enough time for your photos. The actual first look only takes about 5 minutes. Once that’s over, the rest of the time is spent completing all of your family and bridal party group photos. If however you have time allotted after a church ceremony for photos, all the group photos would take place then.

Each individual group photo can take 3-5 minutes on average. If you have a large family and more group photos need to be taken, you will need to allocate more time. Once the group photos are finished we can let the family and bridal party go relax while we complete the bride and groom portraits.


Approximately two months prior to the big day, we will be sending you a portrait checklist to complete for your photographer. This list represents the typical amount of group photos that you can accomplish on an average wedding day. There are a few spaces at the bottom for some extra groups, but you should limit your list to that single page. If you have more photos in mind that are not on the typical list, you will have to add more time to your day. If the average group photo takes 3-5 minutes to arrange and capture, that's 15-20 separate group photos in one hour at best, and that's all before you've taken a single photo of just the bride and groom together. It is extremely important that you prioritize your group photos so that you spend your time taking the most important photos first. If you run out of time it would be unfortunate if you missed an immediate family photo, but it won't be hard to cut out the "work friends" group photo.

Abella Studios photographers capture ultra-creative and spontaneous images of your Wedding Day. work has been featured in various national publications like, The Knot Magazine, Modern Bride, NY Bride, Contemporary Bride, (201) Bride and several Wedding Reality TV Shows such as Say Yes to the Dress and Platinum Weddings. "Abella Studios CAPTURES the MOMENTS of TODAY that will WOW your HEART TOMORROW..."
Bridal Party Portrait at The Palace in Somerset Park (one of our favorite venues)

Things that do not need to be on a portrait checklist are detail shots, candid photos, typical wedding day captures. We know weddings very well and, for the most part, we always capture the same types of photos at each event. We know you are having a first dance, and we know you are cutting the cake, therefore it really doesn't need to be on the portrait list. Those items will only clutter the list up and make it harder to focus on the important group photos.

Other things to consider...

If travel between locations is involved, remember to factor that in to your total schedule. Give yourself and your photographer(s) more time than needed, 20 minutes on your GPS may actually be 40 depending on the time of day, traffic, construction, etc.

And don't forget, to put aside 10-15 minutes at your reception to sneak outside with your photographer and take some night time photos. Photos in the dark can be very creative and fun!

Night time photography at The Venetian in Garfield by Abella Studios.
Night time photos add a unique perspective to your Wedding images.

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