So you’ve started wedding planning and probably haven’t thought much on your wedding timeline? Let alone a photography-friendly wedding timeline? You’re not a photographer, so it’s normal that you may not know that setting up a solid timeline is crucial for your day and for a photographer. You may not know that there needs to be added time for travel, parking, bathroom breaks, touch ups, and in general an added buffer of time because you never know what could happen! No worries, I got you! I’ve photographed tons of weddings, even planned my own wedding, so I know a thing or two about creating the perfect timeline for a stress-free day!
The sample timeline below is based on an 8.5 hour coverage, 4:30pm ceremony time, with first look and everything is onsite at one venue. Your day may look a little different than this, but this is a great start in general. I send a similar sample photography-friendly wedding timeline to my clients when we work together to create theirs. I’m going to break it down by sections of the day and give tips!
12:00 pm : Coverage begins. Capture your details and candids. No official photos during this time so don’t worry! Speak with your hair/makeup team on when to start on you, but you and your party need to be hair/makeup ready the latest by 12:15pm to begin the getting ready photos. Notice it’s 15 mins prior so you have time to use the bathroom, freshen up.
12:30 pm : Your getting ready shots (putting on accessories)
12:45 pm : You and party in robe/PJ photos, pop bubbly
12:00 pm : Second shooter arrives to capture fiance’s details and candids, no official photos yet.
12:30 pm : Fiance’s getting ready shots (putting on accessories) then photos of someone helping like a best man, or dad or whoever.
12:45 pm : Your fiance and party finish getting full dressed, capture candids
1:00 pm: Everyone (couple and wedding party) finish getting fully dressed. Usually the time you and your fiance would open gifts that you gave to each other, if any
1:35 pm : Start leaving towards first look location (Fiance needs to arrive about 5 mins prior to first look time) This time actually depends on where you currently are getting ready in relation to the first look location and/or the ceremony location. If you have to travel to another location for a first look or just go to the ceremony location itself, allow time to get there plus possible traffic time. You must give yourself grace time, you just never know what could happen.
– Photographers are all different but I arrive 30-45 mins before you are hair/makeup ready to capture your details and candids through out the morning. Details like your dress, invitations, jewelry, etc. It’s not that I take a million photos of them. It’s just that all that beautiful stuff takes a little while to capture. And of course in between that capturing the exciting, emotional and intimate parts of getting ready with your party/family. Same goes with the second shooter and your fiance.
1:45 pm – 2:45 pm : First look (5-10 minutes) then couple portraits
– An hour may seem like a lot. But in reality, on a wedding day it’s not! Little things take up time like fixing your dress, hair, tie in between shots. You may need to use the bathroom, or eat some snacks. We also need time to go from area to area to take photos. And of course as an artist, photographers need time to think and see how the light hits, where to place you, how to guide you, etc.
2:45 pm – 3:15 pm : Wedding party portraits
3:15 pm – 3:45 pm : Family portraits
– A lot of couples dread this time. But don’t worry! I work with my clients to create a simple family shot list so we stay organized. I wrote an article with tips on how to help run family portrait time as smoothly as possible HERE.
3:50 pm : Photographer leaves to capture ceremony decor and set up camera settings/test lighting
– You’re probably wondering what a first look is or maybe saying to yourself “no I don’t want a first look because I want to wait to see my fiance down the aisle.” Well, a first look is necessary for so many reasons! Check out this article I wrote HERE to know why and how it creates a stress-free wedding day!
4:00 pm : Guests might start arriving
– You should be hidden away by this time. Or sometimes the venue likes to do a quick rehearsal at this time
4:30 pm : Ceremony begins
5:00 pm : Ceremony ends // Cocktail hour begins
– Second shooter captures guests and photographer captures reception room during this time. You two can enjoy this time to do whatever you want!
The order below is not final, just giving you an idea for when formalities happen
6:00 pm : Guests seated for dinner
6:15 pm : Grand entrance + couple’s first dance + guests dance
6:40 pm : Toasts begin
7:00 pm : Dinner served (photographer takes break & eats)
8:00 pm : Cake cutting – This is also a great time for the couple to say a few words and thank their guests
8:15 pm : Dancing
8:30 pm : COVERAGE ENDS
This photography-friendly wedding timeline I suggest is great because you’ll have time to do whatever you want without all the rushing, which we wanna avoid! It also gives you some buffer of time just in case anything happens. You may see little gaps in between the times, and might think you won’t take that long or you can just do back to back times. I still like to give those gaps because although we strive for a perfect day (which we will!) things may happen like fixing your attire or hair every few mins because trust me that adds up time like I mentioned, bathroom breaks (we all gotta go sometime lol), someone might forget their bouquet upstairs and have to go run and get it, trying to find Uncle Bob, etc. So this timeline I suggest really puts you in a spot for success! Overall, I never wanna force anything on my couples, but I like to give them all the options so they can make an informed decision.
I would love to know if this was helpful for you! I’d love to help you prep your timeline, just message me and we can start the process!
Here are some more tips for your wedding that you may find helpful!