CRAFTING THE PERFECT WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY TIMELINE
Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE a good list and a good timeline. And do you know what the first thing I started working on after we got engaged was? Our wedding day timeline. I know right? What a weirdo…
In retrospect that probably wasn’t the best idea. But from the beginning, I knew that photography was one of our biggest priorities, and I wanted to plan our day so that we would have plenty of time for our photographers to produce gorgeous images. I really believe that every wedding day deserves to be documented (and documented well!) by a photographer who knows how to budget time well, and how to produce polished work quickly.
/ / / / /
TOP 5 TIPS FOR A RELAXED BUT INTENTIONAL WEDDING DAY TIMELINE
1. Consult your wedding planner or photographer.
Remember that you’re hiring professionals who literally do weddings as a career. So ask the experts! If you have a wedding planner or day-of coordinator, you probably don’t have to keep reading this post because this is their job to handle, and they’re really great at it. But for my couples who don’t have a planner, I usually steps in to make the timeline. So as you start to make hair appointments, give deadlines to your florist, and tell your family members when to show up, consult your photographer. They’ll help you get a general idea of how long things will take and what order of events is best.
2. Work backwards from the ceremony.
Every photographer is different, but our timelines tend to break down into the following “chunks” of time:
30 MINUTES: Bride + groom details (This is when we take those “styled” pictures of all of the bride’s/groom’s “details” for the day – dress/suit, shoes, jewelry/cuff-links, veil, old/new/borrowed/blue, paper suite, perfume/cologne, handkerchief, bouquet/boutonniere, etc.)
45 MINUTES: Preparations (Getting dressed, putting on the finishing touches, finishing hair and makeup. About halfway through prep, the bridesmaids are completely dressed, and the bride starts putting on her dress.)
First look! We usually spend about 10 minutes on that, then head straight into:
15-30 MINUTES: Full wedding party portraits. (Everyone all together! Final timing will really depend on the size of your group!)
15-30 MINUTES: Portraits of just the bride with her bridesmaids, and portraits of just the groom with his groomsmen. (Final timing will really depend on the size of your group here, as well. We usually sneak bride and groom individual portraits into this section of the day, too.)
30 MINUTES: Couple portraits!
1 HOUR of pre-ceremony chill time for the bride + groom while we photograph ceremony + reception details, flowers, and finish up any portraits we need to. (But really, we just want you tucked away about an hour before the ceremony because that’s usually when the earliest guests start arriving. And we don’t want them to see you!)
So if you do the math, all that means that we need to start coverage at least 4 hours before the ceremony if you’re doing a first look, plus any travel time we need to get to/from portrait and prep locations.
If you choose not to do a first look, consider having an extended cocktail hour, because you will need to budget time for all of your portraits after the wedding.
3. Take decor into account.
What time will the ceremony decor be finished?
What time will the reception decor be finished?
What time are the flowers and boutonnieres arriving, and where are they being delivered?
We can’t start any of your portraits if we don’t have your flowers and boutonnieres. We can’t photograph your ceremony or reception space if it’s not decorated. And if your ceremony and reception spaces are far apart from each other, let’s consider building time in to the timeline to make sure we get awesome shots of your reception space before all your guests arrive (after all, most couples put most of their decorating energy into the reception!).
4. Take travel time into account.
Especially in cities, when parking is an issue, or when transporting a large wedding party somewhere, it’s SO important to take travel time into account! Chat with your planner or photographer about the specifics, especially if they have experience at your venue or in the city where you’re getting married!
5. Push up your deadlines by 15 minutes.
There are a lot of moving pieces on a wedding day, but getting behind schedule can make your day more stressful than it needs to be. And no one wants that! So tell everyone to be where they need to be 15 minutes before they ACTUALLY need to be there.
Really, honestly (I’ll let you in on a secret here since you made it all the way to the end!), we can actually get some really gorgeous stuff in just minutes. We’ve had wedding days that have run literally HOURS behind and we’ve still produced some of the best stuff we’ve ever shot. But the more time we have, the better, more polished images we can produce, and the more time YOU get to spend enjoying your wedding day.
For more from our “For Brides” series, click here!
/ / / / /
Lindsay Campbell is a wedding photographer specializing in natural, romantic wedding photography. She photographs weddings in Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, Nashville, and the surrounding areas, and travels across the country to photograph weddings! If you’re looking for a Chattanooga wedding photographer, Nashville wedding photographer, or Murfreesboro wedding photographer, please click the contact link above and get in touch!