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interracial couple portrait on their wedding day

How to Draft Your Wedding Day Photography Timeline

April 18, 2019

Bella Bridesmaid blush pink bridesmaid gowns

Drafting your wedding day photography timeline might feel daunting, but I promise it doesn’t have to be! With these tips and tools, you can develop a well-timed plan with your photographer to ensure the day’s key moments are captured while still giving you time to celebrate and, you know, actually enjoy your wedding day. It’s your wedding day after all!

Bridesmaids in pink robes getting ready the morning of the wedding

work with your wedding photographer

Your wedding day photography timeline is a lot like your own personal schedule for the day. After all, your photographer is there to capture you and your friends & family, so they’ll be with you nearly every step of the day.

I’ll help you draft a your photography plan & timeline by taking the time to understand which photos and moments throughout the day are the most important to you, and which ones can be skipped or de-prioritized. I know when and where the best lighting will be to make sure you’re looking best in your photos. And I’ll know how long certain sets of photos will take.

These are the time frames I recommend for certain sets of portraits throughout the day:

  • newlywed portraits: 45-90 minutes (depending on the priority of the couple)
  • wedding party portraits: 30 minutes
  • family formal portraits: 40 minutes
  • day-of details: 30 minutes

If you’ve hired a coordinator I’ll work with them to ensure our timelines fit together perfectly!

bubble exit from interracial couple's wedding ceremony

start from the ceremony and work backwards

When drafting a photography timeline with my couples, I always start from their ceremony time and work backwards. That’s the one time of the day we can’t change! From there, I ask them key questions (see below) to help us build out the rest of the day:

Do we plan to stay in one place, or move around to different locations for photos?
Oftentimes, you’ll change locations up to five different times throughout your wedding day! From the getting ready rooms, ceremony, two portrait and wedding party stops, and the reception, that’s a lot of moving. All of these different locations add variety and interest to your wedding photos, which is great! Just remember to take into consideration travel time in between locations so you don’t feel rushed.

Some couples select a venue with space for both a ceremony and reception. This type of wedding day schedule requires far less time across the day since you won’t be moving around to different locations.

interracial couple's first look on their wedding day

Do we want to see each other before the ceremony?
Having (or not having) a first look on your wedding day is entirely your decision! For more information on deciding if you want a first look or not, check out this post!

If you choose to see each other before the ceremony, oftentimes that means more photos can be taken before the ceremony, freeing you to spend more time with your guests at the reception. You will likely need to be dressed and ready earlier in the day, which is something to keep in mind.

On the other hand, if you choose to not see each other before your ceremony, be sure to work with your photographer to know how much time you’ll need to take the majority of your photos post-ceremony.

interracial couple portrait on their wedding day

What time will the sun set on your wedding day?
The day’s sunlight schedule can have an important effect on your day-of timeline. This is especially true if you want more of your wedding day photos taken in natural light! Work with your photographer to understand how the lighting will effect your photos throughout your wedding day to make sure you know what to expect!

Nigerian mother and groom portrait on wedding day

Do we want to take your formal family portraits before or after the ceremony?
Deciding when you’d like to take your formal family portraits can effect your pre-ceremony timeline.

I work with my couples ahead of the wedding to organize their family portrait list to make sure we keep portraits running smoothly. Usually we can complete family photos in 20-30 minutes, and I like to schedule 40 minutes to give us a bit of a buffer.

all-white bridal bouquets held by bridesmaids in blush pink Bella Bridesmaid gowns

timeline is set – now what?

Congratulations! You’ve developed an awesome wedding photography timeline that’s going to make your day run smoothly! Now what?

Share the timeline with your wedding party and family. Share the timeline with every member of your wedding party and family that will be involved in the wedding. That way everyone knows where they need to be every part of the day; and it helps ensure that your family members are present and on time for family photos!

Sit back and enjoy! Now that you and your photographer have crafted a plan for the day, sit back and enjoy it! Your wedding day professionals are there to make sure your day runs smoothly. Let them take the reins and pour yourself another mimosa. It’s your day 🙂

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