Stress Free Wedding Day Photography Timeline

Things to Consider When Planning Your Wedding Photography Timeline

1. Planning Your Photographers Start and End Time

Planning your wedding day photography timeline can seem overwhelming, but working backwards can help alleviate some of the stress. Start with your reception and work back through your timeline from there. You may not be able to pin point exact times, but it will give you an idea of how many hours you will need your photographer.

2. A Few Things to Keep in Mind!

There are so many things to consider on your wedding day, so here are a few you should keep in mind while planning your photography timeline.

LIGHTING. If you are having an outdoor ceremony at twelve in the afternoon, your photographer is going to be dealing with some harsh, and often unflattering light. Make sure your venue can provide a space with soft natural light for your wedding pictures, even in the middle of the day. Indoor lighting situations can be tricky! If your “getting room” or ceremony location do not have large windows to let in bright natural light, your photographer will need to be well versed in the art of flash.

Wedding First Look

FIRST LOOK. There are several reasons why having a First Look is a good idea. Let’s start with our previous topic…lighting. This isn’t as much an issue during the summer months, but early sunsets during the fall and winter seasons will leave you chasing the light on your wedding day. We all love that beautiful glow, and well lit sparkle in the eye that natural light provides. So taking care of the Wedding Party/Bride and Groom Portraits before the ceremony allows us to optimize the light during those months. We can actually list so many more reasons why having a First Look is beneficial, but we will save that for another post  😉  (Don’t get us wrong…capturing a grooms face as he sees his bride walking down the aisle for the first time is priceless and beautiful, but a First Look can be just as magical!)

TRAVEL TIME. Be sue to account for travel time! Consider the time, and day of the week, of your wedding. Will there be traffic? Which leads me to my next point…

BUFFER TIME. You can be the most organized person on the planet, and you will still find it hard to stick to your timeline on your wedding day. There are so many other factors like vendors, friends, family and guests that may make staying on schedule a challenge. So make sure you allow for this. On the plus side…if everything does according to plan, we will have a little more time to get creative with your images!

Ideas to Help Stay on Schedule

HAIR AND MAKEUP. One of the most common reasons for running behind on a wedding day is hair and makeup. When hair and makeup is not done on time, the bride and bridesmaids aren’t ready for their pictures, leaving time only after the ceremony to get their portraits done. Be sure to let your hair and makeup people know exactly when you need to be done. It is even a good idea to be ready an hour before portraits. That way, you and your bridal party can relax while preparing for pictures.

HAVE DETAILS READY. After introducing ourselves, we like to get started on the detail pictures right away. Having your dress, shoes, rings and any other important details that you want photographed ready, and in one place, makes this go so much more smoothly. That way you or one of your bridesmaids isn’t running around trying to gather everything!

KNOW WHO WILL BE IN FAMILY PICTURES. One of the most chaotic moments of the day is when your ceremony ends, you walk back down the aisle, and the guests follow shortly after. They are so excited for you and want to tell you how beautiful the ceremony was and how gorgeous you look in your dress, but this will bring time for family pictures to a grinding halt. It’s best to hide away until guests have been ushered over to Cocktail Hour or the Reception. Make sure that key family members know ahead of time that they will be in the family portraits, and where they should be. It’s always best to enlist a helper too! Ask one of your bridesmaids or family members to have a list of the names and groupings that you would like captured. This will save so much time and prevent a lot of confusion for your guests.

Here are two examples of a Wedding Day Photography Timeline. One with a First Look, and the other with without.
Wedding without First Look
  1. Bride Details: 45 minutes
  2. Bride Getting Ready: 45 minutes
  3. Dress On & Final Touches: 30 minutes
  4. Grooms & Details: 30 minutes
  5. Bridesmaids/Groomsmen Pictures: 60 minutes
  6. Ceremony: 30 minutes
  7. Family Portraits: 30 minutes
  8. Whole Bridal Party Pictures: 15 minutes
  9. Bride and Groom Portraits: 30 minutes
  10. Reception: 2-3 hours (varies)
Wedding with First Look
  1. Bride Details: 45 minutes
  2. Bride Getting Ready: 45 minutes
  3. Dress On & Final Touches: 30 minutes
  4. Grooms & Details: 30 minutes
  5. First Look: 15 minutes
  6. Bride and Groom Portraits: 30 minutes
  7. Bridal Party Pictures: 60 minutes
  8. Ceremony: 30 minutes
  9. Family Portraits: 30 minutes
  10. Reception: 2-3 hours (varies)

I hope this post helps your wedding planning get even just a little bit easier! Keep an eye out for more wedding day tips!

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Studio Karvé

Serving Southern California & Beyond


Michael & Dia Photography

Serving Southern California & Beyond