What time your photographer should arrive on the morning of your wedding will largely depend on how long you have booked them for.
If your photographer offers a fixed number of hours of coverage in their package then the best thing to do is work backwards. Consider what time your first dance is if you are planning to have one and work out the best arrival time that way.
Considering your timeline and working backwards
For example, if your wedding photographer offers 8 hours of coverage in their photography package and your first dance is scheduled for 8pm, then you may want to ask your photographer to arrive around 12pm.
This will of course depend on the time of your ceremony and also whether evening coverage is also something that is offered, or something you want.
If you had a later ceremony planned- for say 2:30pm, then you may prefer to ask your photographer to arrive later, so that you can have an additional hour of coverage for the evening party.
When your photographer doesn’t work to a fixed number of hours
If your photographer does not work to a fixed number of hours, then we would suggest planning according to what arrangements you have in place for the morning already. Hair and make up, or what time you are planning to leave for example. If you are having hair at 9am and makeup at 11 am for example, then it would be best to have your photographer there to capture some of the make up application, so you could ask them to arrive in time for make up application.
Personally, we like to arrive with a bride around 3 hours before the wedding ceremony is due to begin. This gives us plenty of time to capture make up application and the build up of excitement and nerves throughout the morning. It’s also a nice amount of time in that it allows enough time for everyone to get used to being around us. People get used to the idea of a photographer being around and of being photographed. Even as a documentary style wedding photographer with a photojournalistic approach, it can be quite intense during the preparation stages, especially if there are lots of people all getting ready in just one hotel room.
What about arrival time with a Groom?
With the groom (or the bride if it is just finishing touches to be captured) we like to arrive around 1.5 hours before the ceremony begins. This is often plenty of time to capture suits going on, button holes being done and that kind of thing.
These timings are based on the assumption that both partners are getting ready at the venue they are getting married at, or very close by. If there is travel time to the ceremony involved too, this should also be factored in.