How long should I plan for photos between the ceremony and reception?

Obviously one answer isn’t going to fit every wedding or every schedule, but this is a good starting point that should work for the vast majority of weddings with very little modification.

For the creative portraits and run-around shots I recommend about 60 to 90 minutes of actual photo time. Less than that and it feels rushed, more and it gets tedious. It’s your wedding day, not a photo shoot.

The size and attentiveness of the wedding party has an effect on the time it takes. A wedding party that’s well focused on the task at hand helps keep things moving more quickly. Add an extra half hour if you have more than eight attendants or so, if you just know it’s going to be a wild crowd, or if there’s going to be a lot of drinking going on. (Let’s just be honest.)

Also, a large “Pinterest” style list is going to slow things down considerably. Your photographer can set up groups, light, and shoot much faster if he/she isn’t trying to replicate something that may be unfamiliar.

So, all in all, try to have about 60 to 90 minutes of actual shooting time.

Don’t forget travel time. Travel ALWAYS takes longer than you’d otherwise expect by the time everyone gets in and out of vehicles and with traffic. Better to budget too much than too little. In fact, I generally say that whatever you think it would take to drive from one spot to another in rush hour, add another 15 minutes. This is one reason (of many) I suggest to pick just one or two good spots for photos rather than half a dozen.

Finally, bear in mind everything I just said relates to the creative, run-around photos and NOT the posed family portraits at the church. Those are usually done just after the ceremony and can take anywhere from a few minutes to hours depending on how many groups you want.

Personally, I recommend budgeting about 30 minutes and keeping the list short. I suggest a 6+4 list. I always recommend four images: bride alone, groom alone, bride and groom together, and wedding party. That leaves an additional six groups. You can certainly do more if you like, but the 6+4 typically fits in a 30 minute window if everyone is on the ball. You’ll want to budget more time for more photos or if any of the six is a particularly large group. Needless to say it takes longer to position a group of 30 than a group of six.

A church bride

So, overall I recommend about two to two and a half hours total, including travel and family formals. If we wind up with a few extra minutes on top of that I wouldn’t complain, but that’s a pretty good starting point. I’d break it down this way:

• 30 minutes: Family photos at the church/venue
• 20-30 minutes: Travel time to 1st location
• 30-45 minutes: Photography at 1st location
• 15 minutes: Travel time to 2nd location (keep it close)
• 30-45 minutes: Photography at 2nd location
• 20-30 minutes: Travel time to reception

Adding that all up comes to between two and three hours total, including formals and travel. Honestly, if you are budgeting more than three hours for dedicated photo time you need to give some careful consideration to how this is going to affect the experience and enjoyment of the day as a whole. Do you want to experience your wedding for the emotional event it should be or do you want to spend your day at a photo shoot?

In the end, it’s important to leave enough time to get creative portraits and run-around photos but don’t put so much time into it that you miss the point of the whole day.

This blog post from Expert Guest Blogger, Patrick Pope of Patrick Pope Photography

2 Ways You Can Help Your Photographer Capture YOUR Memorable Moments

Couple on Bench Web

Every bride needs to know a few things about working with their photographer to get amazing images that will thrill you and excite you every time you view those images.

First – You hired a professional photographer who has done this many, many times.  TRUST him/her to yes, get those must have moments (the first kiss, the walk down the aisle, etc.) but also give your photographer the FREEDOM and TIME to capture your day and your unique authentic special moments.  While you may have one or two Pinterest photos that you would like to recreate with your photographer, don’t make the day everything about recreating Pinterest photos that you’re seen.  Those are NOT your experiences.   Keep your images “TRUE” to the day.  That’s the FREEDOM part.  The TIME part means that you need to dedicate a portion of the day (especially just the two of you) to share time and let the photographer capture the essence of your love and emotion naturally.  That might mean taking a 15 minute walk or just going outside to the courtyard with each other.  Ask the wedding party and family members for a few moments of private time.  After all, it’s your wedding day and the most important thing is to share these moments with the man you just married and the man who is the love of your life.  Even if you choose not to do a “first look” take some time alone with one another.

McNamara_sm-376Photography is more than just pushing a button.  A good photographer understands light and also knows that the light during the day can change in an instant.  If your photographer is working with off-camera lighting, give him/her a few extra moments to dial in the proper exposure as needed.  In turn, you will be rewarded with sensational photos that will awe you.  Not all photographers have that skill, but if they do, you will want to allow them the TIME to create for you images that you will absolutely love.   These are priceless images that you will share forever.

Share with your photographer details such as any plans to open a special keepsake that you will wear or give, or the fact that a special family member that has made the trip just for you.    For example of a detail shared – one bride had embroidered in her husband’s suit, their wedding date.  Share special events as well.  At one reception that I attended, the immediate family created a “MOB DANCE” for the couple.  And then share things about yourself – both good and bad – that you feel will help your photographer better connect with candid moments that will convey the emotion of your day.  Your photographer will then want to capture images of that person, detail, or event.


Most photographers love to blend into the background and let all the moments come naturally.  And most photographers I know want to make sure that couples enjoy the experience as much as possible.

Wedding photography is important because those images keep your memories alive!  The images are the essence of the emotion of the day.  At the end of the day, it will be your story that is told.

Wedding Day Tip – Reception Timing


Problem: The ceremony is at noon, the reception is from 6:00 to 11:00. That many hours with the photographer is going to get expensive!

Yes, that is a problem – if the couple wants every minute of the reception photographed. In reality most receptions are covered very well in less than three hours of photography time. If time is tight is can be done in as little as 90 minutes. At receptions you want to have the major events photographed (toasts, first dances, cake cutting) and get some photos of guests (dancing, talking, and generally having a good time). But after a very few minutes of crowd dancing it all starts to look about the same so spending hundreds of dollars on additional hours of reception photography really isn’t recommended.

Here are two great timelines for reception coverage that isn’t rushed and have worked really well. Obviously you’ll want to adjust for your own needs.

Under three hours

  • Arrive at venue, get lined up – 10 minutes
  • Intro – 5 minutes
  • Toasts – 15 minutes
  • Dinner – 45 minutes
  • Meet and greet – 30 minutes
  • Cake cutting – 10 minutes
  • First dance/parent dances – 15 minutes
  • Bouquet/garter toss – 10 minutes
  • General dancing

You’ll notice that this adds up to just over two and a half hours with general dancing filling an unspecified amount of time. It just depends on the crowd and how long it takes for the party to get started. This also assumes a buffet style meal. For a served meal you’ll want to add at least 45 minutes to the dinner time. If you’re having a dollar dance, do it after the photographer leaves. It’s not as great of a photo op as most couples think (the photographer is not going to get a shot of every partner you’re dancing with anyway) and they take so long any money you make will wind up paying for the extra photography time anyway.

Expert Advise Article contributed by Patrick Pope Photography (

Timeless Stories

To me photographs are captured moments in time.  And these moments if they are only in your mind will be lost forever if they are not documented.  Most victims of a fire or devastating flood when asked what they grabbed as they fled from the destruction said, “I grabbed my wedding album and mortgage papers and headed for safety.”  So what do photographs mean to you?

See the EXCITEMENT in both the bride and groom just after getting married!

See the EXCITEMENT in both the bride and groom just after getting married!

It’s not always about capturing who was there and what they were wearing, it’s about the emotion, family connection, bond of friendship, a legacy, all captured in less than 1/125 of a second.

Just a few moments together after being married.

Just a few moments together after being married.

Caring for your images is just as important.

  • Keep them out of direct sunlight
  • Do not store them in a basement
  • Make backup copies if they are on digital media
  • Upgrade to new digital media as new technology emerges. (Remember the floppy disk?)
A precious moment of time with a close family friend.

A precious moment of time with a close family friend.

On our last blog we asked you how you felt about photos and wedding albums, so don’t forget to email us at and share that with us.

Images are powerful and every picture has a story.

At your wedding and even before – start telling your!

Wedding Albums, Photos & The 2014 Bride

Cover Album


A lot of photographers have asked us questions regarding the preferences brides have concerning wedding albums, and we really felt that we did not have the answers to some of their questions, so we decided to go directly to you – our brides and readers – for some specific answers about wedding albums and photos.

I guess the first most basic question that we have is “Is a Wedding Album important to you?  Many photographers offer only the CD/DVD/Flash Drive image delivery method.  So, that starts the ball rolling with even more questions:   

  • Do you feel that a Wedding Album is something you want?
  • Are you happy with prints only?  Do you want your images only to share on Facebook/Instagram and other social media?  Tell us more about what you do with your photos?
  • Is cost a factor in not getting a Wedding Album?
  • Do you make your own Wedding Albums through sources like Blurb to save money?
  • If you ordered an album and if it was a choice between 80 photos in a basic design or 40 photos in a more artistic design, which would you prefer?
  • Do you prefer more posed photos or more storytelling (candid) images?
  • Would you prefer lots and lots of untouched photos – straight from the camera, or do you prefer images that have been enhanced with color correction, cropping, and exposure correction.
  • Are you wanting some images that are more of a “dynamic portrait” where lighting and staging are done to make the image the best it can be?

And finally, we wonder just what brides know about wedding albums themselves.

  • Do you know what a “flush mount” album is?
  • Do you prefer a more creative layout design from one that is just photos on a page?
  • Are fancy covers like Italian Leather, Silk and Metallic  something you would want?
  • Are you aware that wedding albums can be created in any number of combinations of pages and “spreads”?
  • If I asked you if you would like an image layed out in a 2 page spread would you feel like I was speaking Greek?

Another two page spread

Spread across two pages.

Two Page Spread

Spread across two pages with additional photos.

Basic Layout

Two pages from album with inserted photos.  No spreads.

You see, we have lots of questions – and few answers.  So help us out, and tell us about what you like, what you don’t like, what you want, and what you don’t want.  We will compile your answers and select one person at random to receive a $25.00 gift certificate from Wish Upon a Dove (

Your Best Portraits Ever! Part Two

On our last post we talk about ways for you to Capture the Best Portraits Ever!  This post continues with more ideas for you to look your very best on the big day.

Couple 1


Don’t point your body directly at the camera. You always want to have one shoulder closer to the camera. Not too far, don’t give the photographer the cold shoulder. Putting your shoulders at about a 45 degree angle makes you look slimmer where you want to look slimmer and rounder where you want to look rounder.

Don’t point your nose directly at the camera either. You always want your head turned just slightly, then look at the camera with your eyes.

Keep your head just slightly tipped down. You don’t want to look down your nose at the camera unless you want to look stuck up and full of yourself. But don’t tuck in your chin either. Even the skinniest twig of a person can have a double chin with their chin tucked in enough.

Your smile – Teeth? Closed lips? No smile at all? It’s different for every person. The most important thing to know is that the “big wide stripe of teeth” smile that is pushed on us since childhood rarely looks good on ANYONE. It’s not a natural look at all.  Smiles are a partnership between the mouth and the eyes. Even with a nicely formed smile on the lips, if it doesn’t reach the eyes it looks insincere. Smiles vary based on the specific mood and situation. Sometimes the happiest smiles are the most subtle. An amused smile is small, lips together. A hearty belly laugh drops the jaw, opens the lips, and exposes the upper teeth with space beneath. A light chuckle may show the upper teeth, but only the tiniest sliver of them pressed lightly against the lower lips. UNDER NO CERCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOUR BOTTOM TEETH BE IN VIEW – EVER.

A subtle smile, or none at all, is far classier looking than a big fake looking smile. Frankly, smiles are vastly overused in portraiture. We don’t walk around with a smile pasted to our faces, even on our best day. It is very possible to NOT smile at the camera without looking grumpy. Again, it’s all about the relationship between your eyes and lips.

The best way to achieve a genuine smile is to be genuinely happy or amused. I know that standing for photos can be tedious, but try to think of a funny story or event during the day. Joke around a little bit. Make faces at one another.

The wedding day can be stressful, but while you’re doing photos don’t let anyone stress you out. No questions from family. No worries about who came and who didn’t. If you make photo time a stress free time, you’ll be more likely to have a genuinely happy expression.

Couple Together

Don’t copy Pinterest! This is the most controversial, even off-putting, piece of advice I give, but I stand by it. Your photos should express something about who YOU are and the story of YOUR day. You are unique and special, and your photos should reflect that. Remember, if you’ve seen it once, a hundred other brides have already copied it.

• Finally, remember that every photo should tell a story. You don’t want your wedding photos to look like a high school yearbook where everyone has stopped whatever they were doing to stare awkwardly at the camera. It’s also not a model shoot where you’ve been reduced to the role of a dress maker’s mannequin just to show off what you’re wearing.

Even staged photos should feel like a story. What is this photo saying about who you are or the events of the wedding day? Don’t settle for a photo that says “I was here. I wore this dress. This person showed up…” Instead, go deeper. Try to capture a mood or feeling.


Special Thanks to Patrick Pope of Patrick Pope Photography for these fabulous tips.  Patrick is available for your wedding and he can be reached at  Be sure to tell him you found him on