4 Tips for Maximizing Your Bride and Groom Portrait Time

One of the things I love most about my couples is that they really value photography on their wedding day. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be working together and I’m so grateful that couples who truly treasure the legacy of photographs, and give me the time and space to create beautiful art for them, entrust me with their special day.

If you’re like most brides and couples – whether you’re a client of mine or not – portraits on your wedding day of you and your future spouse are high up on your priority list. And you know what? They’re high up on my list too! They are my absolute favorite part of the day and the more time you have for them the more variety of emotions and poses you’ll end up with. Sometimes clients expect dozens of couples portraits but don’t arrange the timeline of their wedding day to allow for that. It can be a big regret when you receive your final photo gallery and realize that an hour after the ceremony for family formals, bridal party shots AND couples’ portrait time just wasn’t enough. And I hate that! I WANT you to have as much time as possible to relax, soak up each other’s company and bask in the glory and beauty of your special day. To help you out I’ve put together a list of suggestions for helping you maximize bride and groom (B&G) portrait time on your wedding day.

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Be Realistic

One of the most important things I wish my couples knew was that things on your wedding day are probably always going to take longer than expected. This is especially true when it comes to family and bridal party photos. Without fail, a crucial family members always seems to wander off right before photos or a bouquet goes missing! These group photos always take longer than you think so allocating an hour between your ceremony and reception might SOUND good in theory, but in practice it’s rarely enough time to get quality portraits without feeling stressed. I’ve also noticed that when couples leave all the photos until after the ceremony, not only do they not GET as many images (simply because of time constraints) but they end up feeling more antsy and impatient. I’m right there with you! After my wedding ceremony all I wanted to do was get to our party and eat, dance and drink so I was very grateful we squeezed in almost all of our portraits beforehand.

Consider a First Look

This is totally a personal decision that I respect and I NEVER coerce my couples into doing a first look! Personal preference, choices and tradition will always trump my suggestions and opinion….it IS your day after all. So first off, what is a first look you may be asking? A first look is a set aside time BEFORE the ceremony where the bride and groom will see each other alone. Only the photographer is usually present and I personally shoot the beginning of the first look (where the bride walks up behind the groom and taps him on the shoulder) with a zoom lens so I’m a good distance away from the couple and give them the privacy. A lot of photographers shoot with shorter focal lengths which is TOTALLY fine but it requires them to be closer up and more in your personal space. I like to make the first look a more private and intimate moment between my couples so they don’t feel like they are being watched and can 100% be themselves without having to perform for the camera. First looks are great because they can start at any time before the ceremony and offer a laid back chunk of time to do B&G portraits and even fit in family formal and bridal party shots. That means that after your ceremony you can spend less time on photos, won’t keep your guests waiting and get right to your reception!

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Do What You Can Upfront

If a First Look isn’t really your style and you want to preserve the tradition of seeing each other for the first time at your ceremony I usually recommend doing gender separated bridal party photos and as many family photos as possible. Sometimes this isn’t possible if the bride and groom are getting ready at separate locations but if possible I’ll try to get portraits of the bride with her bridesmaids and her side of the family and then do the same with the groom’s. This knocks out a bunch of photos and only leaves a few combinations of photos left for after the ceremony with the bride and groom together. It’s not an ideal scenario and can present some logistical challenges, but it’s an option for couples who prefer to reserve the time AFTER the ceremony mainly for B&G portraits.

Trust Your Photographer

This one is really important! No matter how you choose to structure your wedding day timeline and portrait time…make sure you trust your photographer. Whether it’s doing weird things like asking you to stop and pose in random places as you’re walking from location to location or doing a million variations of what FEELS like the same pose, we all have certain tricks up our sleeve to squeeze in more photos in less time.


If you’re at a loss or completely overwhelmed just at the thought of putting together a wedding timeline, don’t fret! That’s what I’m here for. I’ve put together too many timelines to count and have shot weddings with anywhere from twenty minutes of portrait time to two hours. Whatever the scenario – we’ll make it work 🙂

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