One question you may be asked during your initial photography consultation is, “Are you planning on seeing each other before the ceremony?” The reason a photographer asks this question will help to decide how much time you need for photography coverage on your wedding day.

What is a first look?
The first look is a newer tradition allowing the couple to have a private moment together to see each other for the first time before the ceremony. You have the opportunity to hug, kiss, reflect, pray and cry without an audience. It makes timing in the day much more relaxed and less stressful.

What is a traditional look?
The traditional look is when the Groom sees the Bride for the first time as she walks down the aisle. It used to be thought of as bad luck to see the bride before the wedding.  This tradition dates back to when there were arranged marriages as a business deal between the families. This prevented the couple from calling off the wedding or leaving one at the alter.

Why would you do one over the other?
That brings us back to the planning of photography hours you want for your wedding day. First, take into account several scenarios for your day. Are the ceremony and reception at same location or different locations? How many locations will you be traveling to for couple pictures? Do you want creative photography or traditional photography? Do you want indoor and/or outdoor portraits (time of year)?

Ceremony and reception at the same location
There is no additional travel time for guests and they will proceed to the reception shortly after the ceremony.  The first look will provide the time to complete the majority of photography before the ceremony. The reception can begin immediately after the ceremony, starting the celebration and not keeping your guests waiting. You will need approximately 30 minutes for guests to head to the reception, while you do any last minute pictures with extended family and get ready to celebrate.

If you choose the traditional look, many couples provide a cocktail hour for their guests while they are waiting for the bridal party to arrive. During this time, family portraits, wedding party and couples portraits are photographed.  You will need a minimum of 90 minutes before you are announced into the reception.

Ceremony and Receptions are at different venues
The amount of time between the ceremony and reception will indicate how much time you have for photographs. You will  also encounter travel time between the two locations.

With a first look, the majority of your photographs are complete and you will proceed to the reception after the ceremony.

With the traditional look guests will head to reception and wait for the couple to arrive. Couple, wedding party and family formals will be taken after the ceremony.  However, if the reception is 2 or more hours after the ceremony, there will be plenty of time for the photographs after the ceremony. The traditional look would work for this timeline.

Weddings are a time to bring family and friends together. Couples feel these are the most important photographs to capture.  To ensure that all of these memories are captured, a timeline of wedding photos need to be scheduled and organized.

Here is guideline of approximate amount of time needed to photograph the people involved with the wedding.

Bridesmaids, Groomsmen and Wedding Party – 45 – 60 minutes – timing can depend on locations, size of bridal party and variety of poses.

Family Portraits – 30 – 45 minutes – timing can vary depending on size of family and family combinations.

Bride and Groom – Couple, Individuals of Couple – 60 minutes

The first look or the traditional look are two completely exciting and emotional experiences, they should not be compared.  There is no right or wrong way to see each other for the first time. Your photographer will be there to capture the important moments of your day no matter how the timing might work.

Written by Cindy Dover Photography