When Should My Wedding Photographer Arrive?

Portrait of groom dipping bride for an article on when should my wedding photographer arrive

I’ve previously discussed what to have ready when the wedding photographer arrives, but I’ve had a few questions lately asking exactly when that should be.  You asked, I answer: the time your wedding photographer should arrive is….

….just after the bride has had her hair done.

Close up of hand applying makeup to bride's face for an article on when should my wedding photographer arriveLet me start this article by saying that every wedding is different, and the time for the photographer’s arrival all depends upon how many ‘getting ready’ photos you want taken beforehand.  For most couples, I time my arrival for when the bride has just finished getting her hair done.  Why?  Well, the major getting ready work is out of the way, and no one really wants photos of themselves with no makeup on and curlers in her hair.  Rather, by arriving after hair, but before makeup, I have at least thirty minutes to unpack my stuff, say hello, and then begin the process of photographing the dress, shoes, bouquet, and accessories.  Ideally the dress will be unpacked and waiting for me by a sunny window.  But if not, then I’ll take care of it.  Once I’m done with the inanimate objects, I then start documenting the bride and family getting ready: the mimosas, the laughs, the fun of getting gussied up for the big day.

In order to calculate exactly when you should start getting ready, first begin with the time you need to be walking down the aisle.  Count backwards from this point by first factoring in the time it will take to get from the location where you are getting ready to your ceremony venue.  Make sure to account both for traffic (including any major road issues like the New York Marathon) and for the fact that you will be moving slower in a fancy dress and heels.  You don’t want to rush and end up sweating in your nice dress.

Bride and groom dancing in field for an article on when should my wedding photographer arriveNext, calculate in any portraits you want taken before your ceremony.  Count on twenty minutes for portraits of the bride alone.  And if you aren’t seeing your other half until you walk down the aisle, then it is convenient to get photos of the bride and bridesmaids (:20) and bride and her family (:20) out of the way.  Getting these portraits done now means less portraits you have to take following the ceremony (and thus, more time for you to enjoy your cocktail hour).

Lastly, give yourself twenty minutes to jump into your dress, put on your veil and shoes, and have some final moments with your family and bridal party.  The photo of a bride’s father seeing her in her dress for the first time, or a bride’s mother helping with the veil are priceless and shouldn’t be rushed.  To this end, make sure you have a firm end time set with your makeup artist.  I have shot two weddings where the brides in both cases were horribly late to their own weddings (by an hour in each instance) because the makeup artist insisted on a final spritz of glitter.  If you do your part and inform the makeup artist the time at which you want to be ready, then it is up to the makeup artist to do her part and set her schedule  accordingly.  Making a client late is simply unprofessional.

Bride and groom holding hands in front of wooden shed for an article on when should my wedding photographer arriveSo to recap, here is what a sample schedule would look like for a bride who will not be seeing the groom until she walks down the aisle:

  • 11:00 a.m. – Photographer arrives, begins shooting dress, shoes, etc; general getting ready photos
  • 12:30 p.m. – Bride is finished with her makeup, all bridal party are dressed and ready to go; bride begins getting into her dress
  • 1:00 p.m. – Portraits of the bride alone
  • 1:20 p.m. – Portraits of the bride with her bridesmaids
  • 1:40 p.m. – Portraits of the bride with her family
  • 2:00 p.m. – Leave for the ceremony venue
  • 2:30 p.m. – Arrive at the ceremony venue

If you have a small family, no bridal party, and take thirty minutes, tops, to get ready, then feel free to truncate this schedule to fit your own personal tastes and timeline.

The photos accompanying this article are from Rani and Will’s wedding at the Highlands Country Club in Garrison, New York.  I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day, or venue, for this lovely couple’s nuptials.  Rani and Will had getting ready photos in two locations.  We started with Rani with her family, getting her makeup done in a hotel.  To keep her stunning dress from getting wrinkled on the long car ride to the venue, we then traveled to the Highlands Country Club where we took final getting ready shots.  The first look was held on the golf course.  Enjoy the photos!

If you would like to see more images from my portfolio, such as these Highlands Country Club wedding photos, then please visit my website – KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com

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