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How to Find the Perfect Wedding Photographer
Tips for the Destination Bride

By Nanci Kerby

Destination Bridal Party by Nanci KerbyAs a photographer who has shot weddings of all kinds, I find that most weddings follow a general timeline. I've outlined below the series of events that I typically encounter to help you plan out how much time you'll need for your own wedding photography.

Capturing great wedding photographs takes longer than you think! This may could funny, but you'll need to account for inevitable delays such as gathering family members, adjusting clothing, comforting small children, and walking from one location to another. A few minutes delay here and there can add up to big chunk of time if you don't leave extra room in your plans. The outline below reflects my typical experiences with wedding parties and their families.

Bride getting ready shots:
With your makeup and hair already accomplished, photography coverage often starts with the donning of your wedding dress, jewelry, shoes, garter, etc. Typically your bridesmaids and mom/sisters/aunts will be helping you, and you need to leave time for unexpected tasks like sewing on missing buttons, snipping tags, adjusting garments, wiping away tears, and of course, photos! - Think 30 to 60 minutes. If
you want your makeup and or hair styling photographed, ask your stylists how long they estimate and add half hour to that.  Add travel time too unless onsite.

Bride and Bridesmaids:
Casual, fun shots with flowers, the bride with each bridesmaid, and often some shots with Mom & Dad.  Semi formal shots.  Think 30-45 minutes

Groom getting ready:
Groom and Groomsmen shots usually start when the men are all dressed and ready, and they include pinning the boutonniere, toasting with wine or beer, group shots with props like sunglasses or cigars, and casual handsome shots. Semi formal Groom and Groomsmen and parent shots. Think 25-45 minutes.

This depends greatly on your own ceremony and vows. Plan accordingly, usually 25-60 minutes.

Hugs & Kisses:
Your guests will want to congratulate you right after the ceremony. This can easily take 20-60 minutes
. Plan ahead if you want to do party and family formals before or after these congratulations. Doing them before is typically the most efficient way to get you to your reception so you can begin your celebration.

Family & Party Formals: 
How long party and family formals takes depends largely on your family size, so make sure you adjust these numbers up or down if you have a larger or smaller than average family.
Families with two sets of parents each will want to double the times below. Couple shots include formal shots of the newlyweds alone, and then with their party and immediate families. Allow more time later in the day for additional personal and romantic shots.

  • Bride, Bride & Groom: 10-15 minutes
  • Couple with bride's parents: 5-10 minutes
  • Add bride's siblings: 5-10 minutes- (with small children, add 5 more minutes)
  • Add bride's grandparents: 10 minutes
  • Both families: Sometimes the whole NEW COMBINED families of bride and groom shot is desired, and this can be quite a large number of people. Ten-fifteen people: add 10 minutes, Twenty to thirty people: Add 15 minutes
  • Couple with groom parents: 5-10 minutes
  • Add groom's siblings: 5-10 minutes- (with small children, add 5 more minutes)
  • Add groom's grandparents:  5-10 minutes
  • Any additional family configurations add 10 minutes per set since getting into place and then straightening details and getting several exposures of each group will easily be ten minutes.
  • Party shots:  Couple with Best Man and Maid of Honor: 5 minutes
  • Traditional Groomsmen and Bridesmaids with couple 15 minutes or less

Fun Party Shots
You'll want to take a few memorable "fun" shots of your bridal party, so use your creativity here. While your guests are mingling during cocktail hour, you can take a 10-30 minutes to record some fun photos. Toasts, jumping into the air together, fashion and design shots, the Bride with the groomsmen, the Groom with the bridesmaids, etc.  As an extra thought, there is interest in real weddings for magazine layouts and it is a nice bonus for you if your wedding party shots end up in your favorite wedding magazine!

This will be the rest of your photography needs. Schedule time for your dinner, toasts, cake cut and first dances, and for general dancing.  You will not need your photographer to stay during all of your dancing, but 40 minutes to an hour will give you lots of fun shots of everyone. You can also sneak away for romantic photos while your guests are on the dance floor.

Looking back, it will feel like your wedding day flew by in a whirlwind of activity, so if you plan ahead and make extra time to take all the photographs you want, you will love to look back through your wedding album and relive your special day again and again.


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