The 4-Hour Wedding Photography Timeline

Wedding Planning, Weddings

Last week, we shared a blog post about the Wedding Photography Experience you can expect when you book with us. Our client experience is extremely important to us! We want to make sure that every client feels amazing when they work with us. A huge part of that experience is the wedding photography timeline.

A lot of people have asked us, “how are you going to separate shooting responsibilities?” And we think that’s a great question! For most photography teams, there is a lead shooter and a second shooter. Usually the second shooter is there to capture different angles than the lead shooter or to be there as a backup.

Since we were both lead shooters in our separate businesses, we started thinking about ways to maximize the time spent working together with our clients. And that’s when we came up with the 4 hour timeline!

By playing to our strengths & having us both take care of different things at the same time, we can shorten our timelines to save our clients money and not have them worry about having a camera in their face all day long- which can get exhausting! So we’re going to walk you through what it looks like.

4-Hour Wedding Photography Timeline with a First Look

One thing we LOVE about weddings are first looks! When you have a first look, you feel so much less nervous because you get to see your person & be free to react, hug & kiss, in private instead of with a ton of onlookers. So when we started thinking about the 4-hour wedding photography timeline, we definitely didn’t want to sacrifice a first look if possible. So a 4-hour timeline WITH a first look would look like this:

First Look & Couple Portraits – 45 minutes

We will arrive with the two of you dressed & ready to go 2 hours before your ceremony. The first thing we will capture is your first look, which will last about 15 minutes. Then we will have a full 30 minutes for your couple portraits.

Wedding Party Portraits – 15 minutes

Next, we’ll capture photos of the wedding party! Stephanie will photograph the girls while Christi photographs the guys. Then, we’ll come together & photograph the larger group shots! This will only take 15 minutes since we can split our time up & work quickly.

Detail Shots & Getting Ready Shots + Pre-Ceremony Candids – 1 hour

Since some guests like to arrive early, we’ll be sure that everyone is back inside an hour before the ceremony. Christi will photograph detail shots while Stephanie will stage some getting ready shots! She will capture the mother of the bride or the maid of honor zipping up the dress, & she’ll get the bride to stage putting on her jewelry. Then she’ll do some photos of the guys as well!

During this time, Christi will be photographing things like the rings, invitations, flowers, perfume, etc. and then she’ll move on to capturing photos of the reception details & guests arriving.

The Ceremony – 30 minutes

Next it’s ceremony time! This is the time where having two shooters REALLY comes in handy. One of us can capture closer shots and one of us can capture wider shots. Plus, there’s a backup to capture the first kiss since this is really the only thing we can’t recreate the moment of for photos later. So having both of us there is a huge plus! Ceremonies typically don’t last longer than 30 minutes, so after that we would move into family portraits.

Family Portraits – 30 minutes

It’s best to do family portraits immediately following the ceremony so that all of your family is present & they don’t have to arrive early. We will be sure to grab the names of people you want photographed ahead of time & get all of this done in 30 minutes.

Reception Coverage – 1 hour

The truth about receptions is that you don’t need a lot of coverage time. Once the dancing gets going, you end up with tons of photos of the same 15 people on the dance floor that you don’t really need! We can capture all of the important reception events in 1 hour. If you plan to have a sit down dinner, we recommend starting with the first dances & then doing the toasts during dinner. That way we can capture what’s going on! After dinner we will do the cake cutting & capture a few songs of the dancing. Tell your DJ to put the crowd pleasers first!

If you aren’t doing a sit down dinner, then that works out even better! You can do the dances, toasts, and the cake cutting all in a row & we’ll be there for everything and stay for a few songs once the dance floor opens.

The Controlled Exit

We will finish our coverage with a controlled exit! This is when you grab your family and your bridal party for a staged exit. We can capture sparklers, bubbles, or whatever you have planned to give you complete coverage of your day! After the staged exit, you can go right back in and party as long as you want!

For a 5pm ceremony, the timeline would look like this

  • 3pm: First Look & Couple Portraits
  • 3:45pm: Bridal Party Portraits
  • 4:00pm: Getting Ready Photos, Detail Shots, & Candids of Guests Arriving
  • 5:00pm: Ceremony
  • 5:30pm: Family Portraits
  • 6:00pm: Reception
  • 7:00pm: Controlled Exit

The 4-Hour Wedding Photography Timeline With No First Look

If you don’t do a first look, the timeline would just look slightly different! Instead of arriving 2 hours early, we’d arrive 1 hour before the ceremoy & get started with the getting ready & detail photos. We’d move into the ceremony, family photos, bridal party, & then the bride & groom photos. The reception coverage would look the same! We might even be able to sneak some sunset photos in with this option depending on the sunset time! It would be something like this:

  • 4:00pm: Getting Ready Photos, Detail Shots, & Candids of Guests Arriving
  • 5:00pm: Ceremony
  • 5:30pm: Family Portraits
  • 6:00PM: Bridal Party Portraits
  • 6:15PM: Couple Portraits
  • 6:45PM: Reception Coverage
  • 7:45PM: Sunset Portraits
  • 8:00PM: Controlled Exit

There you have it! The four hour timeline! We are so excited to be able to offer this to our couples. Contact us today to see if your date is available!

If you liked this post, consider pinning to Pinterest!

Stephanie & Christi


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greenville, sc wedding photographers

We firmly believe that getting to know our couples is the BEST way to ensure they have an amazing experience. Our process is designed to put your worries at ease. With over 20 years of combined experience, the beauty of working with us is that we are both there for you 100% on your wedding day. We're more than a photographer and an assistant. We're partners who trust each other fiercely and you can trust us too!

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We're Stephanie & Christi


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