Drafting your wedding day photography timeline might feel daunting, but I promise it doesn’t have to be! With these tips and tools, you can develop a well-timed plan with your photographer and other wedding day professionals to ensure the day’s key moments are covered just as you want them while still giving you time to sit back and relax. It’s your wedding day after all!
work with your wedding photographer
Your wedding day photography timeline is often a lot like your own personal schedule for the day. After all, your photographer is there to capture you and your friends & family, so they’ll be with you nearly every step of the day! A professional, organized wedding photographer can help you draft a plan. They’ll work with you to understand which photos and moments throughout the day are the most important to you, and which ones can be skipped or de-prioritized. They’ll know when and where the best lighting will be to make sure you’re looking best in your photos. And, most importantly, they’ll know how long certain photos will take!
These are the ideal amounts of time I like to spend on certain photos throughout your wedding day:
- newlywed portraits: 45-90 minutes (depending on the priority of the couple)
- wedding party portraits: 30 minutes
- family formal portraits: 40 minutes
And if you’ve hired a coordinator for your wedding, your photographer will work with to make sure everyone’s timelines overlaps seamlessly.
start from the ceremony and work backwards
When drafting a photography timeline with my couples, I always start from their ceremony start time and work backwards. That’s the one time of the day we can’t change! From there, I ask them key questions (see below) to help us craft a photography plan that focuses on the couple’s most important wedding day memories.
Do we plan to stay in one place, or move around to different locations for photos?
Oftentimes, my couples and I change location up to five different times throughout their wedding day! Those locations are typically the getting ready rooms, ceremony location, 2 portrait and wedding party locations, reception location. All of these different locations add variety and interest to your wedding photos, which is great! Just remember to take into consideration travel time in between locations so you don’t feel rushed.
Some couples select a venue with space for both a ceremony and reception. This type of wedding day schedule requires far less time across the day since you won’t be moving around to different locations.
Do we want to see each other before the ceremony?
Having (or not having) a first look on your wedding day is entirely your decision! For more information on deciding if you want a first look or not, check out this post!
If you choose to see each other before the ceremony, oftentimes that means more photos can be taken before the ceremony, freeing you to spend more time with your guests at the reception. You will likely need to be dressed and ready earlier in the day, which is something to keep in mind.
On the other hand, if you choose to not see each other before your ceremony, be sure to work with your photographer to know how much time you’ll need to take the majority of your photos post-ceremony.
Do we want to take our formal family portraits before or after the ceremony?
Similarly to deciding whether or not to have a first look, deciding when you’d like to take your formal family portraits can effect your pre-ceremony timeline.
I work with my couples ahead of the wedding to organize their family portrait list to make it run as efficiently and smoothly as possible. Usually we can complete family photos in about 30 minutes, and I like to schedule 40 minutes to give us a bit of a buffer.
Typically, I recommend taking family portraits after the ceremony. Sometimes when they’re taken before the ceremony, not all family members arrive on time and could miss a photo. If the photos are taken after the ceremony, you’re pretty much guaranteed that they’ll be present :)
What time will the sun set on my wedding day?
If your wedding is taking place in a non-summer month, when the sun sets much earlier in the evening, this can have an important effect on your day-of timeline. This is especially true if you want more of your wedding day photos taken in natural light! Work with your photographer to understand how the lighting will effect your photos throughout your wedding day to make sure you know what to expect!
Timeline is set. now what?
Congratulations! You’ve developed an awesome wedding photography timeline that’s going to make your day run smoothly! Now what?
Share the timeline with your wedding party and family. Share the timeline with every member of your wedding party and family that will be involved in the wedding. That way everyone knows where they need to be every part of the day; and it helps ensure that your family members are present and on time for family photos!
Sit back and enjoy! Now that you and your photographer have crafted a plan for the day, sit back and enjoy it! Your wedding day professionals are there to make sure your day runs smoothly. Let them take the reins and pour yourself another mimosa. It’s your day :)
Sample Wedding Day
Below are four sample timeless illustrating different approaches to a wedding day photography timeline. Each of them covers 10 hours of photography coverage (the national average) and assumes the couple will want to travel to two different off-site locations for photos with their wedding party.
Got a question I didn’t address? Ask me in the comments!