Wedding Day Timeline Planning Tip: How Much Time Should I Budget for Formals?

I’ve had some recurring questions that couples asked me at almost every meeting. I wanted to take some time to answer some of them here on my blog. First and foremost, I’m writing this post for couples who value photography above most things, who don’t mind sacrificing other things in order to have amazing photography. If you’re one of these couples, here may be one of the best advice for you: don’t rush your formals. If you have enough time to relax and have a good time, your photos will reflect that. On the contrary, if you rush them, it puts a lot of pressure on you, there’s a good chance your photos will not turn out as awesome as you expect. So how do you ensure your wedding photos will turn out awesome? We have to take it into consideration when planning your wedding-day timeline.

How much time do I need for couple’s portraits, bridal party, and family formals?

Let’s break this down.

 Couple’s Portraits

Catalyst Cambridge wedding Boston Rooftop Garden wedding bride and groom

This is one of the most important portions of your wedding day. Ideally, you would want to budget at least one hour for portraits. I can’t stress this enough. Anything less than an hour will feel rushed and your photos will reflect that. If you value having relaxed, fun, and candid wedding photos, my best advice is to consider doing a first look. You simply start your hair and makeup a little early and do your portraits before ceremony so you won’t have to rush everything during cocktail hour, and you get to keep some of the cocktail hour to yourself so you can take the time to say hi to your guests. It’s a win-win.


Bridal Party Formals

Wychmere Beach Club wedding goofy fun bridal party Krista Matt

Bridal party formals should follow right after couple’s portraits. Depending on how much time is left before ceremony, this can be done either before or after ceremony. Budget between 30 minutes and an hour for bridal party formals. In a perfect situation, budget enough time for both couple’s portraits AND bridal party formals before ceremony so you have more cocktail hour to yourself. And it’ll free up more time for your photographer to capture candid moments of your guests mingling.


 Family Formals

Liberty Hotel Boston wedding family formal Lauren Paul

Typically, family formals are done after ceremony because most guests don’t arrive before ceremony. Depending on your family size and how long you want your family photo list to be, on average, allow at least 30 minutes for family formals. Make a list of the groups of family members you want photographed together, including their names and relationships to you, and send it to your photographer before your wedding. Another tip to use your time more efficiently: have someone who knows most people on both sides of your families help your photographer identify people on the group shot list. This will help make the process much quicker and save time.

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