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Wedding Photography Timeline

Every wedding, big or small, benefits from a timeline. And that’s especially true for your photography—keeping your photographer in the loop about what’s happening and when means they’ll ensure that you don’t miss any opportunities for great photos.

Creating a wedding photography timeline is a collaborative effort between the couple, wedding planner (if you’re using one), and the photographer(s).

The main question to work out is whether you’d like your photos before or after the ceremony. In my experience, couples seem to enjoy doing photos before the ceremony because they can mingle with guests for the rest of the day. But in the end, it’s a very personal preference and it’s totally up to you!

To help you make a plan that’s right for you, here are few examples of wedding photography timelines. Although these timelines were designed for summer weddings, the times below should give you an idea of how long different events take throughout the day even if your wedding is happening a different time of the year.

Remember: Plan your day around whatever will make your wedding special and I’d be thrilled to document it!

Photos taken before ceremony

10 hour timeline - 2 photographers

8 hour timeline - one photographer

12:00 pm – getting ready photos client #1 and client #2 (separately)

1:00 pm – portraits (separately)

1:30 pm – first look and wedding couple portraits

2:30 pm – full wedding party portraits

3:00 pm – family formals

3:30 pm – couple refresh/photo break (photos of the ceremony setup and guests arriving)

4:00 pm – ceremony

4:30 pm – cocktail hour (candid photos of guests, any family formals that were missed, second photographer shoots reception setup)

6:00 pm – dinner (photos of speeches, guest candids)

~7:00 pm – sneak out of reception to do a few sunset photos with couple

7:30 pm onward – photograph any group shots that are requested of guests and couple, shoot candids, cake cutting, first dance and dance party

10:00 pm – we leave when I feel like we’ve got a good amount of fun dance photos

12:00 pm – getting ready photos with client #1

12:45 pm - getting ready photos with client #2

1:30 pm – first look and wedding couple portraits

2:30 pm - wedding party portraits

3:00 pm – family formals

3:30 pm – couple refresh/photo break (photos of the ceremony setup and guests arriving)

4:00 pm – ceremony

4:30 pm – cocktail hour (candid photos of guests, any family formals that were missed)

5:30 pm – dinner (photos of speeches, guest candids)

6:30 pm onward – photograph any group shots that are requested of guests and couple, guest candids, cake cutting, first dance

~7:00 pm – sneak out of reception to do a few sunset photos with couple

8:00 pm – photo coverage usually ending after first dance

Photos taken after ceremony

10 hour timeline - 2 photographers

8 hour timeline - one photographer

1:00 pm – getting ready photos client #1 and client #2 (separately)

2:00 pm - portraits (separately)

2:30 pm – wedding party portraits (separately, will take the full group shots later)

3:00 pm - flex time

3:30 pm – photos of the ceremony setup and guests arriving

4:00 pm – ceremony

4:30 pm – cocktail hour (second photographer shoots guest candids and reception setup)

4:30 pm - family photos

5:00 pm - full group shots of wedding party

5:20 pm - newlywed portraits

6:00 pm – dinner (photos of speeches, guest candids)

~7:00 pm – sneak out of reception to do a few sunset photos with couple

7:30 pm onward – photograph any group shots that are requested of guests and couple, shoot candids, cake cutting, first dance and dance party

11:00 pm – we leave when I feel like we’ve got a good amount of fun dance photos

1:00 pm – getting ready photos with client #1, wedding party portraits

2:15 pm - getting ready photos with client #2, wedding party portraits

3:30 pm – photos of the ceremony setup and guests arriving

4:00 pm – ceremony

4:30 pm – cocktail hour starts

4:30 pm - family photos

5:00 pm - full group shots of wedding party

5:20 pm – newlywed portraits

6:00 pm - dinner (photos of speeches, guest candids)

~7:00 pm – sneak out of reception to do a few sunset photos with couple

7:30 pm onward – photograph any group shots that are requested of guests and couple, guest candids, cake cutting, first dance

~9:00 pm – photo coverage ending with some dance party photos

A few more things to consider...

Location

Think about where you want to have your photos done and factor in the travel time. If the locations are not on the same property as the ceremony or reception, who’s available to transport your wedding party? Will anyone need directions?

How long photos could take

Different kinds of groups take different lengths of time to capture. Here are some general guidelines to help you get started:

● Family photos: approx. 20 minutes
● Wedding party: approx. 20 minutes
● Couples portraits: approx. 30-40 minutes

Also, consider the time of day alongside your event—it can be great to schedule a 15-minute break in your speeches to catch the sunset with a few more photos. If doing a first look photo, allow as long as you feel you’ll need to enjoy every minute of a very special moment.

Sharing the timeline

Make sure that everyone knows when and where they need to be by sharing your schedule with anyone who needs it. Also, it’s a good idea to put somebody other than yourself in charge of tracking down late or distracted family members.

Keep in mind that every wedding runs off schedule at some point, so if you feel that starting to happen, don’t stress. Just relax and remember you got this because you planned for it!

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