Effectively planning your wedding photography timeline is one of the most important pieces of preparation you need to do before your wedding. Without successful planning, wedding days can end up a bit chaotic and stressful, taking away from the overall purpose of the wedding itself — to marry the love of your life with friends and family all around.
The point is for you to enjoy it and remember it for the rest of your life. Planning ahead of time can ensure that hiccups are planned for, responsibilities are taken care of, and when it comes to the actual wedding day, you can relax and just focus on marrying your best friend. I’m here to help you make that possible.
As a photographer, I know that the best moments (and as a result, the best photographs) come from days that are eloquently planned to avoid the unexpected, and make room for the beautiful little things instead.
How do I create a timeline for my wedding day?
1. If you don’t have a planner, communicate with the photographer.
If you’re DIYing your wedding day schedule, be sure to communicate directly with your photographer. You’ll need to work together to ensure that you both know the wedding photography timeline for the day. Be prepared to call or send texts (or ask your 2nd in command) if things run behind schedule.
2. Ask your photographer for their templates.
When you hire a wedding professional, you don’t have to do everything on your own! Most wedding photographers have wedding photography schedules they can share. I have 8-hour, 10-hour and 12-hour wedding photography timelines. I meet with my clients face to face or on Facetime to discuss the schedules and identify what fits best with my clients’ plans. We’ll meet at least 2 or 3 time to discuss your timeline so don’t feel you have to do it alone.
3. Plan for the photographs that are most important to you.
Is a first look your number one goal, or are the post-ceremony portraits the most important? Be sure to prioritize the photographs that are most important to you. This means taking those photos first, or as soon as possible, and providing wiggle room in case things run late (they often do!). I always send my clients questionnaires 3o days before the wedding to help me identify what’s most important. Then we incorporate it into a timeline that complements everything else on their busy wedding day schedule.
Some photographs to consider are:
- First looks
- Exchanging of notes
- Bride getting ready photos
- Groom getting ready photos
- Couple portraits
- Family portraits
- Candid reception photos
4. Be realistic with your allotment of time & add buffers.
How long will it take for you to get ready? How long is the drive from the getting ready location to the actual wedding venue? Be upfront and transparent with your photographer so they can plan too. For example, I prefer about 45 minutes with just the bride while she’s getting ready to capture all of the little details, noticing the memories and special items she’s incorporated into her wedding.
5. Share your wedding timeline with as many as possible.
Over communicate when it comes to your wedding day timeline and expectations, especially with friends and family who are essential wedding party members that typically tend to run late. Let them know when you expect them to be there, what you’ll need help with and tell them as soon as possible so they can plan ahead.
How much time do you need for wedding photos?
Couple photos take 45 minutes to an hour at least, wedding party photos take about 30 minutes at least (depending on the size of your party) and first looks take about 20 minutes. Getting ready photos, ceremony pictures and reception photos will take longer, depending on the length of your event itself and the various plans you have for your wedding program. I always recommend saving plenty of time for wedding photos so that the portraits aren’t rushed. Portraits are also often an opportunity to be still and contemplate the big moments of the day, and are probably my favorite part of the day. You’ll be printing a lot of photos (hopefully), but these are photos you’ll look back on the most.
Do you take wedding photos before or after the ceremony?
Traditionally, wedding photos were only taken during and after the ceremony, but many couples opt to take portraits on a separate day prior to the wedding (for a more laid-back, less time restricted photoshoot), or photograph a first look on the morning of the ceremony. It all depends on how much time you have on the wedding day itself, and if you’d like to save a first look for the wedding day. Don’t forget, timelines are flexible and you should always try to leave cushion room, so don’t stress too much about it!
Have a question about your wedding photography timeline and want a FREE timeline template? Feel free to message me on Instagram and I’d be happy to share! Contact me here if you’d like me to be your wedding photographer!
Rithy | Portland Oregon Wedding Photographer