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  • Ashley Tyler Tolisano

Secrets of wedding photography hours, and what you really need to know.

Updated: Jul 23

I really wanted to talk about the controversial subject of wedding photography hours. You can save yourself money with almost all of your hired professionals by having a clear understanding of your wedding day festivity schedule. I've been shooting weddings for about 13 years now and i've spent between 2 hours to 16 hours photographing a single wedding. The two hour wedding was posed courthouse photos and the 16 hours were from a wedding that still haunts me to this day. Check my next post for my "Bridezilla" stories. But what's right for you?


The truth is every wedding is different, but normally every wedding can get by with a measly 5 to 8 hours of photography. So why are brides paying for a 12 hour wedding photographer? The sad reality is that they just don't know any better. Many photographers have found that charging one lump sum for a full day of photography is purchased more often. Even though that photographer is knowingly likely to find themselves in a idling night of neglectful photography. Now, i'm not saying there aren't photographers that literally take photos the entirety of the day, but many become spiritless when the night drags on. Honestly, what's worse than over straining your creative hired professional to the point of exhaustion.


Optimizing time is critical to maintaining creative strength and spirit. So why waste your energy and sabotage a wedding by creating disorder and meaningless stress. When key points in weddings aren't met in a timely matter, elders with wedding attendance experience soon become the self allocated wedding coordinators. With all these cooks in the kitchen things get messy. By stepping in, they then create unneeded urgency and unprofessional opinions, which just results in a bad experience for the bride and groom.

Photo of myself and one of my favorite newlyweds.




Wedding photography is about time organization.

I'm not here to speculate or bad mouth the business tactics of my fellow professionals. Im merely here to explain how a wedding day should be organized. Below i'll break down a simple 5 hour & 8 hour wedding day schedule. This will save you money and stress in the end.


5 Hour Wedding Photography Schedule

You can start your day at any time. But let's start this example wedding for the popular sunset ceremony at 6pm.

4:30 pm: "Getting Ready Photos" 1 HOUR

{Taking a photo of the bride looking like a hot mess isn't going to make it in the wedding album. So start once the bride is done! I capture the bride in her robe adding makeup touches. When I arrive my first call to action is the wedding dress. I always ask my bride to maintain a clean clutter free environment. Dress and accessory photos take 15 minutes or so. Then onto the bride doing makeup touches, beautiful bridal portraits and fun with her friends, and putting the dress on. This whole process rarely lasts more than an hour}

5:30 pm: "Travel" 15 MINUTES

{Many brides get ready on location, but some choose hotels. So lets alot 15 minutes for travel. }

5:45 pm: "Groom getting Ready at Ceremony Site" 15 MINUTES.

{Again, most men don't want "im sexy and i know it" playing in the background and photos of them pulling their pants over their stretched socks type of photos. Regularly, its tying the tie, looking in the mirror and pinning on a boutonniere. These desired shots take milliseconds to capture, and 15 min is usually plenty of time. In addition, the reality is that most weddings never start on time. Guests see, ceremony at 6, so they arrive at 6. By the time they're in their seats its 5 to 10 min after. So any photographer has plenty of time to capture decor and sentimental touches.

6:00 pm: "Ceremony" 30 MINUTES

{Obviously this differs from religion to religion, but the majority of weddings, even Catholic and Muslim weddings can opt for shorter ceremonies, resulting in a more enjoyable experience for guests. Regardless of this however, you must do what's cherished the most for your commitment ceremony. }

6:30 pm: "Posed Photos" 1 Hour

{This schedule is my favorite, but altering this to fit your day and desires can easily be swapped. Photos start at the ceremony with Bride and Groom, then immediate family. After the 30 min of family photos its onto Bridal Party. All plenty of time to make magic. I'm not going to lie though this is the time for your photographer to shine. They work fast and consistent. Creativity comes naturally and experience is key. }

OPTION 1 "Dinner at 7:00"

{If you want lots of photos, take your time and allow your guests to mosey to the reception. Once they arrive allow them to eat, and yes, before you do. I'm not sure why the tradition of the Bride and Groom eating first if still so commonly highlighted, but to me it's very unprogressive and an ego centered ritual that should be annulled.

OPTION 2 "Dinner at 7:30"

{Just because i'm not a fan of this formal tradition, doesn't mean that you should conform. Consider hosting your guests with entertainment at the reception prior to your entrance. Give them drinks, scavenger hunt, horderves, activities, dancers, etc to occupy them while you take your photos. }

7:30 pm: "Grand Entrance at Reception" 20 MINUTES

{By this time your guests are eagerly waiting for the fun, or food to begin. Regardless of your "option" choices, I'm going with the longer time to thoroughly prove my point. Grand Entrances take less than 10 minutes; but herding your parents and bridal party is comparable to trying to corral up cats. So we will go with 20 minutes}

7:50 pm: "Dinner" 1 HOUR

{Sadly your photographer doesn't partake in the 5 course meal. But remember to assign us a seat to rest and place our belongings. If you want your photographer to cherish your wedding like you do and to capture the beauty that you are...make sure they're happy. We need to feel respected, so minimally invite us to a glass of water and a chair. During this time we take a little break, maybe grab a snack if invited and then take photos of the decor, cake, rings, guest book ect.}

8:30 pm: "First Dances" 20 MINUTES

{Most likely the Bride and Groom have finished their meal within the last 40 minutes. Guests are still munching away, but now their night has now turned into "Dinner & a Show"! They continue to eat while watching the first dances. No one is walking around and alcohol volume levels haven't reached their peaks. Then immediately following music is played for guests to join in. }

9:00 pm: "Cake and Tosses" 30 MINUTES

{WOW, its so late already! Well at least for Grandpa Lou and baby Huey. So, let's get things moving so that the remainder of the night can blossom with uninterrupted fun and shenanigans. Toasts can be done before or at dinner, or more traditionally done at the cake table. Two toasts are about 5 minutes each and cutting the cake can be too. Sometimes brides and grooms are often trapped in the corner as people gather to watch, so what's better than herding all those bystanders right to the dance floor for the garter and bouquet toss!!! Then its no longer a game of chicken trying to invite people to the dance floor for the last activity of the night. This again takes just a few minutes. Once again all your guests are on the dance floor which makes for a wonderful celebratory song to jump and dance to. My favorite is "We are Family" or the "Electric Slide".


...and that my friends is a 5 hour, organized wedding, with every single necessary photo taken. Periodt.

5 Hour Wedding Photography Schedule Recap

4:30 pm: "Getting Ready Photos" 1 HOUR

5:30 pm: "Travel" 15 MINUTES

5:45 pm: "Groom getting Ready at Ceremony Site" 15 MINUTES.

6:00 pm: "Ceremony" 30 MINUTES

6:30 pm: "Posed Photos" 1 Hour

OPTION 1 "Dinner at 7:00"

OPTION 2 "Dinner at 7:30"

7:30 pm: "Grand Entrance at Reception" 20 MINUTES

7:50 pm: "Dinner" 1 HOUR

8:30 pm: "First Dances" 20 MINUTES

9:00 pm: "Cake and Tosses" 30 MINUTES


8 Hour Wedding Photography Schedule Recap (common Catholic Wedding day ceremony at 1pm)

11:00 am: "Getting Ready Photos" 1 HOUR

12:15 pm: "Travel" 15 MINUTES

12:30 pm: "Groom getting Ready at Ceremony Site" 30 MINUTES.

1:00 pm: "Ceremony" 1 HOUR

2:00 pm: "Posed Photos" 2 Hours

4:00 pm: "Grand Entrance at Reception" 20 MINUTES

4:30 pm: "Dinner" 1 HOUR

5:30 pm: "First Dances" 20 MINUTES

6:00 pm: "Cake and Tosses" 30 MINUTES

6:30 pm: "Extra dancing photos" 30 MINUTES


#photography #photographyhours #Weddingsecrets #weddingphotographyhours #weddingschedule #behindthelens #ashleytylerstudios #ashleytylerphotography #tylerphotography #tylermodels

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