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Photos That Are Authentically You

Wedding Photography Timeline Tips

The couples that hire me deeply care about their wedding photos. Whether you’ve hired me or someone else, I’ve written some wedding photography timeline tips to ensure a smooth flow of your wedding day photos.

Below is a typical wedding photo timeline that I recommend. Especially if working with me. Don’t worry if it seems a bit confusing. If I’m your wedding photographer, I can always help with planning your wedding day timeline.

This schedule with cocktail hour is pretty common and what most couples prefer.
 

Pros of this schedule

 

  • Shooting Time – The most ideal time for photos is 1 hour before sunset. The sun is lower, softer, and usually has that nice orangey light I like.
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  • No more stress! – Once the wedding ceremony is over, the hard part is finished. Couples love the idea of the “anticipation” being over and are able to fully relax for their portraits!

 

Cons of this schedule

 

  • For fall/winter weddings, this timeline will need to be adjusted due to the sun setting at an earlier time.

 

 

Timeline Example

I structure timelines based on sunset times, so actual times vary throughout the year. For this example, I’m going pretend that sunset will be at  6:30 pm for this wedding.

 

2:30 pm – Detail Photos / Photographer Arrives
Suggested time: 30 minutes

I arrive, say hello, and get my cameras ready. If detail things are set up like flowers, cake, tables, etc, I’ll photograph them.

 

3:00 pm – Getting Ready Photos
Suggested time: 1 hour

During this time I capture both of you getting ready. I usually go back and forth checking in on each of you. Most couples don’t want too many getting ready photos, so this amount of time is just enough usually.

 

4:00 pm – Dress On
Suggested time: 30 minutes

We’ll be sure to photograph you getting your dress zipped up. And if you’re going to have your dad see you during this time, we’ll have time to photograph that as well.

 

4:30 pm – Relax, Freshen Up, & Shots To Take The Edge Off
Suggested time: 30 minutes

This isn’t absolutely necessary, but some couples find it’s nice to be able to have some time to relax right before the ceremony. Use this time to enjoy it with your parents or close friends/wedding party.

 

5:00 pm – Ceremony
Suggested time: 30 minutes

Most ceremonies only last around 15-20 minutes, but I usually suggest estimating 30 minutes. This also gives some buffer time allow for the congratulations you’ll be receiving from everyone.

 

5:30 pm – Family formals & Cocktail Hour Begins
Suggested time: 15 minutes

Formal group photos begin 1 hour before sunset for ideal lighting.

 

5:45 pm – Wedding Party Formals
Suggested time: 15 minutes

These photos typically go really fast since most of my couples don’t want many variations.

 

6:00 pm – Creative Portraits with just the Couple
Suggested time: 15-30 minutes

If we finish before cocktail hour is over, you can use that time to go hang out at cocktail hour or spend some quiet time with each other before the reception.

 

6:30pm – Reception
Suggested time: varies

Order of events from this point on is up to you. I’ve never come across couples doing the same things for their reception.

 

Tips For This Timeline

 

  • Add in at least 15 minutes of buffer time throughout the day for each thing going on. In my years of experience, most weddings don’t run exactly on time. So, it’s helpful to add a bit of buffer time just in case.
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  • Schedule the cocktail hour and formal group photos an hour before sunset. Then work backward to create your ceremony start time. Some venue or coordinators may suggest scheduling your ceremony right before sunset. However, that leaves you with no sunlight for portraits afterward.
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  • After the ceremony, do photos in the following order: family formals, then wedding party, and lastly, photos of you both. This allows to slowly send people over to cocktail hour and ensures no one will be taking up time asking for a photo on their phone.
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  • In order to keep a stress-free timeline, it’s important to keep the number of formal photos down to a minimum. I suggest between 4-6 family photos and 4-6 wedding party photos. Ultimately, stay away from different combos for group photos.
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  • If your parents are concerned about not getting enough group photos during the 15 minutes, let them know there will be plenty of opportunities throughout the night during the reception. The informal group photos are usually the favorites of my couples because they’re never planned out and are the most memorable than formals.

 

 

Things To Consider

Here’s some things to take into consideration when planning your wedding day timeline:

  • Stress
  • Accounting for the unknown issues that may happen
  • Accounting for hair and makeup finishing late
  • Traffic or parking issues
  • Distances between getting ready locations, ceremony location, photo locations, and reception locations
  • Hours set by vendors such as flowers, hair and makeup, transportation, etc
  • Amount of people at your wedding
  • Amount of people in your wedding party
  • Any sort of traditions to be added into the day

 

In my years of experience in assisting my couples plan their wedding timeline, this is what has worked for me and my couples. It helps keep your day running smoothly and allows you to enjoy your day knowing everything is being captured.

Please note that this is the way that works for me and my style of photography. This is meant to be a general guideline. For some photographers, this may not be the best timeline method. Be sure to talk with your photographer to find out how they like to structure timelines.

If you found this helpful, be sure to let me know in the comments.

And if you’re still searching for a photographer and interested in having me photograph your wedding day, get the conversation started by saying hello through my contact form here.

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