Depending on how you've planned out your day, typically between 6 and 12 hours!

Have you been wondering, "How Long Do Wedding Photographs Take"?

The realm of wedding photography is vast, and among its many styles, documentary wedding photography stands out for its commitment to authenticity and the art of capturing unscripted moments and family wedding photos of you and your close family and friends.

Every wedding is unique, and durations can naturally be more or less than stated. In this detailed exploration, we'll delve into the meticulous time investment of a documentary wedding photographer, explicitly focusing on the natural and candid aspects that define this captivating style.

Before the Wedding Day

Pre-Wedding Preparation (20-30 minutes)

A pre-wedding consultation with a documentary wedding photographer establishes a connection between the photographer and the couple, allowing for a thorough understanding of their unique story, preferences, and vision for their wedding day. A documentary wedding photographer should also check and make a note of any special requirements, such as whether you would like any specific wedding family photos of your close family members and friends.

It provides an opportunity to discuss logistics, such as the timeline and venue details. It allows the photographer to emphasize their unobtrusive approach, focusing on capturing candid and genuine moments. Technical considerations, potential challenges, and advice on creating a comfortable atmosphere for natural expressions are also addressed.

The consultation ultimately aims to align expectations, build trust, and create a plan that enables the photographer to authentically and compellingly document the couple's love story on their special day.

On the Wedding Day

Getting Ready (2-4 hours)

The getting ready phase is a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the intimate moments leading up to the wedding ceremony. A documentary wedding photographer during this time becomes a silent observer, capturing the genuine emotions, camaraderie, and anticipation that characterize the early hours of the day.

Here's an in-depth look at the different moments that unfold during typical getting-ready photos:

Preparation of Attire

The meticulous process of getting dressed is a ritual filled with symbolism and emotion. The photographer captures the bride delicately wearing her wedding gown, adjusting details like veils, jewellery, and shoes. For the groom, shots may include tying the tie, adjusting the cufflinks, or fastening buttons on the suit.

Hair and Makeup

The bride's transformation as she gets her hair and makeup done is a visually rich sequence. The photographer captures the artistry of the makeup artist, the intricate hairstyling, and the bride's reactions as she sees herself in the mirror.

Details and Accessories

Candid shots capture the bridal look's details, including close-ups of the bouquet, wedding rings, and other accessories. For the groom, shots might focus on cufflinks, watches, and boutonnieres.

Quiet Moments with Family

Intimate moments between the bride or groom and their immediate family are precious. The photographer documents these quieter moments, such as a father helping with the final details or a mother offering encouragement.

Bridal Party Bonding

The getting ready process is often a communal experience involving the bridal party. Candid shots highlight the camaraderie, laughter, and emotional support shared among bridesmaids or groomsmen.

Emotional Reactions

As the reality of the day sets in, emotions run high. The photographer captures the unguarded moments of joy, excitement, and sometimes nervousness as the couple and their loved ones realize the significance of the impending ceremony.

Exchange of Gifts

Many couples choose to exchange gifts or letters before the ceremony. The photographer documents these intimate exchanges, revealing the thoughtfulness and sentiment behind each gift.

Final Preparations

The last-minute touches before leaving for the ceremony are a flurry of activity. The photographer captures the final adjustments to attire, last-minute makeup touch-ups, and the overall anticipation as the couple prepares to step into the spotlight.

Reflection and Solitude

Amidst the hustle, there are moments of solitude and reflection. The photographer may capture the bride looking out of a window, lost in thought, or the groom taking a quiet moment to collect his thoughts.

First Looks and Reveal Moments

For couples opting for a first look, the photographer captures the emotional reveal as the bride and groom see each other for the first time in their wedding attire. These moments are filled with genuine reactions, often resulting in heartfelt embraces and tender expressions.

Ceremony (30 minutes - 1.5 hours)

A wedding ceremony is a tapestry of emotions, traditions, and significant moments that unfold seamlessly, providing a documentary wedding photographer with a rich canvas to capture. Amid vows, rituals, and the exchange of rings, the photographer discreetly manoeuvres to document the unscripted beauty of the day.

Let's explore the various moments that make a wedding ceremony a treasure trove for a documentary photographer:

The Arrival

As the anticipation builds, the bridal party's entrance and, ultimately, the bride is a moment laden with emotion. The photographer captures the reactions of the groom, family members, and guests, freezing the mix of excitement and joy in time.

Exchange of Vows

The heart of the ceremony, the exchange of vows, is a pivotal moment filled with sincere promises and heartfelt expressions. The photographer focuses on the couple's faces, capturing the raw emotions as they commit these profound commitments.

Ring Exchange

The symbolic act of exchanging rings is a visually rich moment. The photographer captures the intricate details of the rings, the tender gestures shared between the couple, and the reactions of the audience witnessing this significant exchange.

Unity Ceremonies

Many weddings feature unity ceremonies such as candle lighting, sand blending, or tree planting. These rituals provide unique visual opportunities for the photographer to capture the symbolism and emotions expressed by the couple during these special moments.

Emotional Reactions

Throughout the ceremony, emotions run high. A documentary photographer skillfully captures the tears, smiles, and laughter of the couple, their families, and friends. These candid reactions reflect the genuine sentiment of the moment.

First Kiss

The much-anticipated first kiss as a married couple is a timeless and celebratory moment. The photographer aims to capture this kiss from various angles, ensuring that the moment's intensity is preserved in each shot.

Processional and Recessional

The processional, where the couple and their bridal party walk down the aisle, and the recessional, marking their exit as newlyweds, are dynamic moments filled with energy and emotion. The photographer captures the movement, expressions, and interactions during these transitions.

Post-Ceremony Celebrations

Immediately after the ceremony, there is often a surge of jubilation as the couple celebrates with their loved ones. The photographer captures candid hugs, congratulations, and joy from the newlyweds and their guests.

Exchanging Glances

Throughout the ceremony, the couple often exchanges glances that speak volumes. These stolen moments of connection are precious, and the photographer aims to document them discreetly, allowing the images to convey the intimacy and love shared between the newlyweds.

Exit Moments

The couple's departure, whether in a shower of confetti, flower petals, or a grand exit, provides a visually striking conclusion to the ceremony. The photographer captures the last moments of the ceremony, immortalizing the joyous exit of the newly married couple.

Reception (3-4 hours)

The wedding reception is lively and celebratory, where friends and family come together to honour the newlyweds. A documentary wedding photographer approaches this part of the day with the intent to capture the genuine and spontaneous moments that unfold.

Here's a detailed exploration of the different moments that can happen during typical reception photos:

Grand Entrance

The reception often kicks off with the grand entrance of the newly married couple. The photographer captures the energy, excitement, and expressions of joy as the couple enters the venue.

Toasts and Speeches

Emotional and humorous toasts are a hallmark of wedding receptions. The photographer documents the reactions of the couple, the speakers, and the guests, capturing candid moments of laughter, tears, and heartfelt applause.

First Dance

The first dance is a poignant moment, symbolizing the couple's union. The photographer captures the grace, connection, and expressions shared between the newlyweds as they dance for the first time as a married couple.

Parent Dances

Special dances with parents hold sentimental value. The photographer focuses on the emotions conveyed during these dances, whether it's the tearful joy of a father-daughter dance or the heartfelt connection of a mother-son dance.

Candid Guest Reactions

The photographer observes the guests throughout the reception, capturing candid reactions during critical moments such as toasts, dances, and other surprises. These genuine expressions add depth to the overall narrative of the celebration.

Cake Cutting

The cake-cutting ceremony is a fun and often playful moment. The photographer documents the couple's interaction, capturing the joyous atmosphere as they share this sweet tradition.

Candid Dancing Moments

The dance floor is a dynamic space filled with laughter, enthusiasm, and uninhibited joy. The photographer captures candid shots of guests enjoying the music, dancing with abandon, and creating memorable moments on the dance floor.

Bouquet and Garter Toss

The traditional bouquet and garter tosses allow playful and sometimes amusing moments. The photographer focuses on the participants' and onlookers' anticipation, surprise, and laughter.

Guest Interactions and Conversations

The photographer discreetly captures the interactions between guests, whether it's old friends catching up, family members sharing a moment, or guests offering congratulations to the newlyweds.

Late-Night Celebrations

As the night progresses, the energy of the celebration may evolve. The photographer documents the late-night festivities, from impromptu dance-offs to guests enjoying the photo booth, ensuring that the entire spectrum of the reception is represented.

Exit Moments

The conclusion of the reception often involves a grand exit. Whether it's a sparkler exit, a confetti shower, or another creative send-off, the photographer captures the couple's final moments of celebration surrounded by the well-wishes of their loved ones.

Family Formals and Couple's Portraits (1-2 hours):

Both formal family group photos and natural wedding couple portrait photos are essential components of a wedding album. Each set of photos captures a distinct aspect of the celebration.

Let's delve into the details of these moments:

Wedding Family Formal Group Photos:

Traditional Family Poses

These photos typically include formal poses with various combinations of family members, such as the couple with parents, siblings, and extended family. The photographer carefully organizes and stages these shots to ensure everyone is visible and looking their best.

Generational Shots

Family wedding photos of you and your close family and friends may be organized to capture different generations, such as grandparents, parents, and grandchildren. These images document the family and highlight the continuity and legacy of love through the generations to give you a set of perfect family wedding photos for your album.

Bridal Party Poses

Group shots with the bridal party are a fun and vibrant aspect of formal family photos. The photographer captures the camaraderie and energy of the group, showcasing the personalities and relationships within the bridal party.

Candid Moments Between Poses

The photographer looks for candid moments and interactions among family members between formal poses. These spontaneous moments often reveal the genuine emotions and connections within the family.

Children and Ring Bearers

Including younger family members in your family wedding photos adds a touch of innocence and charm. The photographer captures the playfulness and joy of children, creating heartwarming images.

Parental Embraces

Individual and group shots of the couple with their parents often involve emotional and touching photographs. The photographer captures the love and tenderness between the couple and their parents.

Special Requests

Family members may have specific groupings or poses they want to capture. The photographer accommodates these special requests, ensuring the family's formal photos are personalized and meaningful to the couple and their loved ones.

Natural Wedding Couple Portrait Photos

First Look

The first look session captures the genuine reactions of the couple seeing each other for the first time on their wedding day. These candid moments are filled with raw emotions- joy, excitement, or even a few tears.

Walking Shots

Taking the couple for a walk, especially during the golden hour, allows the photographer to capture natural, unposed moments. These shots showcase the couple in motion, interacting with each other in a relaxed and authentic way.

Close-Ups of Intimate Moments

The photographer zooms in on intimate moments, such as whispered conversations, shared glances, and tender touches. These close-ups capture the depth of the couple's connection and the emotions they experience throughout the day.

Natural Surroundings

The photographer captures the couple in various settings by utilizing the wedding venue and its natural surroundings. Whether it's a garden, a scenic overlook, or an architectural backdrop, these shots add diversity to the couple's portrait collection.

Silhouette Shots

Silhouette shots during sunset or twilight create visually striking images. The photographer plays with light and shadow, capturing the couple's silhouette against a colourful sky for a romantic and atmospheric effect.

Candid Laughter and Smiles

Encouraging the couple to interact naturally, the photographer captures candid moments of laughter, smiles, and shared joy. These images reflect the couple's genuine happiness and chemistry.

Reflection Shots

The photographer can create artistic shots that add depth and symbolism to the couple's portrait collection using reflective surfaces like water or mirrors.


Documentary wedding photographers invest substantial time in each phase of the process, capturing the genuine moments that make each wedding unique. While formal family wedding photos are efficiently organized, and portraits are well-planned, the emphasis remains on unscripted authenticity. The commitment to delivering a timeless collection that reflects the essence of a couple's special day distinguishes the artistry of documentary wedding photography.