When to Take Your Wedding Photos

best time to take wedding photos
The moment we first saw each other….BEFORE the ceremony

So you’ve picked your wedding venue, wedding dress, had your first tasting and picked your wedding photographer. So what’s next? One of the most important things you’ll want to decide with your wedding photographer is WHEN to take your wedding photos. You basically have four options to choose from:

1. Before the ceremony

2. Between the ceremony and the reception (basically during cocktail hour)

3. During the reception

4. After the wedding

First off, I think you can eliminate 3 and 4 right off the bat, and there’s a couple reasons why I think those are definitely not the best time to take your wedding photos. First, your makeup is NOT going to be fresh. You’ve gotten through the ceremony and most likely (I hope) had something to eat AND drink. So unless you have a wedding makeup artist and hairdresser on-hand (and even then your hair and makeup is still not going to look their best), this is not going to be the most ideal option. It’s also the time when speeches are happening not mention the most fun parts of the wedding you are paying for: EATING, DRINKING, AND DANCING.

So that leaves us with the first two options. I happen to strongly feel that your best bet is #1, minus one drawback. Taking your wedding pictures before the ceremony allows you to take advantage of several things. First and foremost, you will look your absolute best considering you’ve most likely just had your hair and makeup done (and if you’re getting married in a warm weather climate, you just put your dress on and are not sweating). Should you really make a decision like this purely because of vanity? Yes, ladies. This is a major factor and something you should consider, especially if you think there’s even the slightest chance that you’re going to cry during the ceremony.

The second major reason I think it’s better to take your wedding pictures before the ceremony is because you won’t have to worry about them once the wedding starts. That means as soon as the wedding ceremony ends and cocktail hour begins, you’ll be able to happily grab a glass of champagne and start making your rounds talking to guests. All the pressure is OFF. You’ve already taken your wedding photos and you’re officially married, which means it’s time to enjoy yourself. It also means you can mingle during cocktail hour and therefore not have to make the rounds during your reception dinner, which means you can actually eat. What a novel concept! 🙂

The ONLY drawback as I see it is you won’t be seeing your groom (or your family members) for the first time as you walk down the aisle. This is a no-go for a lot of brides, but I urge you to think about this: you will still have that “seeing you for the first time,” and the beauty of that is most likely you AND your groom will be captured on film (in the same photo) experiencing it (like my wedding photo, above). And trust me, it will be JUST as special.

Below is a glimpse of my wedding timeline, including when we started taking wedding photos knowing we had a 6:30 p.m. guest arrival and a 7:00 p.m. ceremony start time.

3:30 PM- Bride will arrive at venue (hair/makeup already done) to put on dress

3:45 PM-Groom arrives at venue (dressed); Photographers arrive

4:00 PM- Portrait session of Bride/Groom (1 hour)

4:45 PM- Wedding party and immediate family arrives

5:00 PM- Family and Wedding Party photos (1 hour)

5:30 PM- All set-up needs to be complete in ceremony/foyer locations

6:30 PM-Servers ready to pass out champagne/sparkling water to arriving guests

6:30 PM-Guests arrive

7:00 PM- Ceremony begins

Looking to hire a wedding photographer? Find out how much wedding photographers cost here. Once you have your wedding photos, check out my review of the best wedding photo printers!

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  1. says: Caden Dahl

    I’ll have to pass this along to one of my good friends as he is getting married in two months. You are right that you do have some options to choose from when deciding on when to take photos. For me, I would do them during the reception so that you can capture everyone emotion from having a good time, dancing, and just enjoying the moment.

  2. says: Kayla

    Thanks for these tips. My fiance loves taking photos of us together. For our wedding, he wants to have aerial shots too. He’s now looking up some photographers to assist us.