Welcome to the Wedding Photography Guide for Wedding Portraits, two very common and important questions I receive frequently from Brides planning their Wedding Day are the following;
1) How much time should we leave for Portrait Photos
2) When is the best time to take Wedding Portraits and;
Let me start by saying that every couple is different are tastes vary when it comes to Wedding Portraits. Some couples plan wedding ceremonies, venues and reception start times around wedding photos and some people work the other way by organising venues and having photography work around that schedule. There’s no magic formula and in answering this question and each Bride needs to ask herself how important photos are to their big day. Some brides may not be enthusiastic about spending more than 30minutes on photos, some brides may want 2 locations and want to spend 1.5-2hrs. If you’re thinking on the shorter timeframe side that’s absolutely OK! No problem at all, i’ll work with you on your day and capture some beautiful moments but if you’re thinking you’d like to allocate some more time to Portraits and have the flexibility with your venue then read on.
Let me answer question 1 first.
The best amount of time to leave for Portraits in my experience is between 45mins to 90mins. Let me explain with a standard wedding day scenario which might help you visualise the logistics. Ceremony start to reception time is generally around 2.5-3 hours. Let’s assume the standard ceremony goes for 30minutes and runs alittle over to 45mins. As soon as you say ‘I Do’ and walk out of the church or ceremony area you’re going to have every family member come up and naturally congratulate you, which is a great opportunity to get some happy snaps. This generally takes around 10-20minutes by the time most guests move up to you and congratulate you. It’s true for lots of weddings that their ceremony location isn’t the same as their reception location which means travel time between the two is often underestimated. Let’s also say the Couple have decided on a portrait location which is a 20minute drive from the reception venue, at this point we’re getting to 1.5hrs out from the reception which is ok.. we’re on time. The couple would then take approximately 45mins-1.25hrs of portraits which includes the bridal party, which leaves at least 25minutes to get to the venue and relax before entering the party. In total you’ve had at least 45 minutes but up to 90 minutes if allowed for Bridal Party and Couples Portraits. This scenario may not be the same for all and should be viewed as a guide. Portraits on ceremony/reception location are amazing and always equal more time but every wedding is different and this isn’t always possible. Of course as a photographer I’d suggest as much time as possible for Portraits but i’ll work with whatever my Couples decide.
Onto question 2 – The best time for taking Wedding Portraits is approaching Sunset, I suggest around 1-1.5hrs out from dusk is perfect and advise all couples if possible to structure their day around this for photography. It’s not always possible but if you can then please do so! You will not regret the results. If you know anyone who is into photography or videography and they keep going on about ‘the light’ and you couldn’t understand why, this is it. The reasoning behind is at this time of the day the light is soft and even which gives a beautiful glow to skin tones and landscapes. You often get magical photos at this time of the day and I prefer to shoot at this time because it’s the most flattering light available on subjects, it’s very soft and warm which always translates very well for people photography. Of course anytime of the day you will get great images but especially so at dusk. Ideally we’d be photographing from around 1hour out from sunset to around 10minutes after which guarantees a great mix of beautiful soft sunlight and warm/rich dusk indigo light.
Below are sample images of how soft the light is at sunset and how it lends itself to wrap around a subject and create a warming effect.