When to Make the Pictures
Most people have some pictures taken of the couple separate from one another before the wedding. This allows them to make photos of just their families and friends separately. Then, during the reception following the wedding, everyone you want in pictures meets back at the wedding scene to make pictures with the couple.
Another option, which my wife and I chose for our wedding, is to make almost all of the pictures before the wedding. Yes, the couple will see each other, but the first sight of one another can still be very special. After the couple gets ready separately, the bride is left in her dressing room alone. Then, the groom goes in to her, and they spend a few minutes by themselves. It is a very intimate, meaningful, romantic way of first seeing one another on the wedding day. One couple enjoyed it so much I had to knock on the door to tell them it was time to take pictures!
Most couples choose not to see one another before the wedding, and I understand that. Just realize that you will miss part of the reception because you'll be taking pictures. Usually the number of pictures is kept to a minimum, because taking a lot a pictures will take so long that some people start to leave the reception. If most of the pictures are taken before the wedding, then you have time to take as many as you like, and you get to enjoy the entire reception. Also, it will be possible to include both bride and groom in images of family and friends. For these reason, I highly recommend this option.
People in Your Pictures
To determine which pictures to have made, think about what you want to do with the pictures after the wedding. Do you want to give them as gifts, hang them on the wall, leave them in an album, or maybe just keep most of them on your computer? Think about who you want to remember when you look at the pictures years from now. Then, make a list of people that you want to have in your pictures. Obvious choices would include your attendants, relatives, and friends. Think about whether you want them in groups, individually, or both. Will the pictures be made with the bride, the groom, or both?
How Much Time to Allow
The amount of time required for photography will depend upon the number of settings that you request and whether you decide to take them all before the wedding. We will probably need to be ready to start at least 2 hours before the ceremony time. It is important to emphasize to people you want in the pictures that they be on time. People being late can actually cause you to miss taking some pictures. In case that happens, it is a good idea to have a pleasing background set up in the reception area so that people can easily be gathered there for pictures following the ceremony. However, I recommend that only as a quick fix, because there is not usually as much space as there is in the auditorium, which limits things.