Wedding Day Photography Timeline or Why You Need One
Every couple is unique and it's not possible to put together one definitive timeline that will work for every couple. The wedding day has a mix of different locations, people, lighting conditions (photographer's take on the subject:) involved in any given scene. On top of that, there are personal preferences of the couple, cultural traditions, special events, and rituals. It's very important to put together a timeline of your day, so you better understand how your day is going to evolve. It's a good tool too to give you a better understanding if you need half day or full day photography coverage when you're booking your wedding photographer.
We have put together some of the common events of the wedding day we recommend to include in your timeline. We base our recommendation on our experience in photographing different weddings. Over the course of years, we learned things that work and don't work for a wedding day timeline, and how it all can affect the final images from your day. We work with our couples on their personalized wedding timelines to maximize their photography time.
Guys - 30-45 minutes
Girls - 60-90 minutes
We do recommend to have your and your fiancé getting ready locations in one place, like a hotel or houses not far from each other. We normally start with guys. This is the perfect time to capture guys when they are getting ready for a big day. Photos with best man, groomsmen and maybe dad, turn to be super fun and authentic and are great for the beginning of the wedding day story.
After that, we get to the bride's location. We do recommend to have all the bridesmaids and moms to be makeup/hair ready and in their dresses, and the bride to have her last makeup/hair touch-ups. We will document the bride's final steps of getting ready, her dress, jewelry, shoes, and flowers. We will be also photographing all the fun moments the bride and her bridesmaids are going to have. Those authentic, documentary style photos will go so well together with the guys getting ready photos.
After that, depending on the couple's traditions, we can head over to First Look location or Ceremony.
The first look is a perfect opportunity for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony, without family and wedding guests watching. First look makes it easier and takes the pressure of being very emotional in public off the couple, allowing you to be in this perfect private moment of seeing each other for the first time on your wedding day. These unique moments help us to capture authentic, raw emotions at that time.
Usually, when we do First Look, we recommend extending Creatives/Bride and Groom Portraits to be done at that time as well. We will recommend a few locations with the best options to capture the reactions of both the bride and groom during the First Look.
Right after that, we will travel to the Ceremony location.
30-60 minutes, depending on cultural traditions
We will arrive at the Ceremony location 15 minutes before the ceremony beginning. We will use that time to introduce ourselves to the officiant/minister and set up our equipment for the ceremony. At that time we will also photograph guests, some decor as well as the arrival of the groom with his groomsmen.
We will be in the best positions at the location to photograph the whole ceremony and document unique moments of the official beginning of the couple's life.
Receiving Line/Exit by Rows
This is the time right after the ceremony when the just married couple receives all the congratulations from their family and wedding guests. It's a perfect time to capture raw emotions and pure happiness of a couple while they are sharing hugs and smiles with their loved ones.
The only time when you are not going to have Receiving Line/Exit by Rows is when you're doing Elopement.
Formal Family Portraits
30 minutes. Immediate family
We do recommend to have your Formal Family Portraits done right after the ceremony. This is the time when the whole family gets together for photos. We normally ask to have a list of all family members that need to be documented.
Right after the Formal Family Portraits, wedding guests and immediate family travel to the cocktail/reception location. A couple and their bridal party head towards Creatives location.
Creatives/Bride and Groom Portraits
In addition to First Look photos, this is the time to create some epic photos for our couple. We will discuss a few locations for Creatives with bride and groom in advance. We normally start with the bride and groom and their bridal party together and halfway through continue with the couple only. We use this time to create some unique and memorable photos for our couples. Most of the time this is why they hired us to photograph their wedding day in the first place.
Right after Creatives, we recommend that the couple take some time for rest before arriving at the reception. At that time of the day, the level of emotions, smiles, hugs and simply amount of people around the couple is going to be overwhelming. Many couples told us how thankful they were to have that time alone before diving back to the whirlpool of the party.
The rest of the wedding day coverage
Normally Cocktail/Reception locations are at the same place. We will arrive at the Reception location to document some decor and set up our equipment for a grand entrance. We will introduce ourselves to MC and synchronize our schedules, so we all know when the key moments of the evening are going to happen.
We will be documenting the grand entrance of the bridal party with the bride and groom. As well as toast/speeches, cake cut, bouquet/garter toss, first dance and dance floor in general.
We will not be photographing anyone during dinner time unless we have discussed that with a bride and groom. At that time we will have our dinner break, so we can continue with the wedding day coverage.
The timeline described in the previous section presumes that all the events will be happening in one location. No travel involved. As soon as you have multiple locations for some of the events, travel time needs to be added to the timeline. We normally use Google Maps, where you can see not only distance but also the time required to get from one location to another. We do recommend to add extra time to account for traffic.
When multiple locations are included in the timeline, we do recommend to add additional 15 minutes for getting in/from the cars, parking and walking to the final location.
Cultural traditions not described in this article will take additional time to photograph.
This article describes the wedding photography timeline. Adding videography or other wedding vendors performances might affect your wedding timeline.
We hope this article helped you to get some ideas about your wedding day photography timeline. Use it as a starting point to build your own.