PLANNING YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY TIMELINE
There are quite a few questions I get from my clients during our pre wedding chat, and most of them pertain to the flow of the wedding day and how everything coordinates with the photography aspect. For this post, I’ll lay out some tips on how to effectively map out your wedding timeline with your photographer (since we basically get to spend the entire day together). We’ll go over the main parts of the day, and what I will be doing during each of these times. These tips are from my perspective- not because I’m biased (I swear!)- but because I want you to get the most from one of the services you’re paying for. Because let’s face it, photography is a luxury item, and something you don’t necessarily purchase every day.
THE MORNING + GETTING READY (~2 hours)
I always love photographing the getting ready portion of the day. Some couples don’t want it covered, but I think it really captures the anticipation and moments when you are apart. Moments you may otherwise never see of each other. You can coordinate some fun things like sending each other letters to read, or even exchanging a gift. Most brides wonder when the best time is for the photographer to show up. My answer is always when the makeup is about 90% done. Depending on logistics I will either go to the grooms first or immediately after the bride, but we will time things accordingly. I’ll arrive, introduce myself, and use this time to get some detail shots. Important things like the dress, rings, and any sentimental items are photographed. After details, we get right into some final shots of the hair/makeup and some candids of everyone hanging out. I usually set aside about 20 minutes after this to capture the dress, details, and any jewellery being put on (if your the bride), and putting on your tux etc (if your the groom). The brides side can take somewhere between 1-1.5 hours and the groom is about 30-45 minutes.
THE CEREMONY (30-90 Minutes)
Depending on the culture and traditions, the ceremony length is variable. I’m typically a fly-on-the-wall for this portion as I try and capture everything uninterrupted and unnoticed.
FAMILY PORTRAITS (30-60 Minutes)
I always recommend doing family photos shortly after the ceremony, mainly because everyone is in one spot and its easier to coordinate. Prior to the wedding I send my couples a pre wedding questionnaire, and one of the questions is to list the family photo combinations you want. You’ll also want to either make an announcement after the ceremony, or notify everyone you want in these photos in advance to stick around or head to a specific spot. You’ll want to include immediate family like parents and siblings, and can also include some extended family like cousins, godparents etc.
WEDDING PARTY + NEWLYWED PORTRAITS (1+ Hours)
Set aside an hour or so for portraits with your bridal party and the bride and groom (or bride-bride, groom-groom etc). One of my recommendations is to take care of all the photos involving the bridal party first.
A QUICK BREAK (15-20 Minutes)
A break for you—not for me! After the bridal portraits and before the reception, it’s always good to head back to the bridal suite, or find a quiet spot together. Take some time to relax before your cocktail hour or receiving line. While you’re taking a moment together, I’ll be working to get set up in the reception area, and grab all the detail shots of your event space and decorations. Your decor will likely be undisturbed because guests haven’t had the chance to enter yet. This is the ideal window to make sure your photographer can get those detail shots and get situated.
THE RECEPTION (2-6 Hours)
Breeze into your first dance right from your entrance. Follow it up shortly after with the parental dances if you choose to do those. This will save you time in case things run behind with dinner service. The reception is where you will get the most candid and genuine reactions from people. The amount of time I spend at a reception is always different. The important considerations for your reception are the cocktail hour (mingling), receiving line, grand entrance, first dances, dinner, speeches, games, cake cutting, and opening dance floor.
SUNSET SHOTS (15 Minutes)
Depending on the time of year, we take about 10 or 15 minutes to sneak out of the reception for some sunset shots. The best time to work this in is in between courses. It can tough to plan an exact time, so just make a note of it on your itinerary and play it by ear. If you’re getting married in the winter months, the sunset will probably happen before the reception.
TRAVEL TIME (30-60 Minutes)
Ok so I know this can be a lot to take in, but one more thing to consider is travel time. Logistically I tend to coordinate the least amount of travel time possible, while avoiding any backtracking. For example if the bride and groom are 25 minutes apart, but the groom is closer to the ceremony location, I will head to the Brides first.
Just note that the wedding day itinerary is simply a guideline. The timeline may get off by a bit, and things out of your control may come up. These tips are also just a general outline. Feel free to change things up, add your personal touch, and do whatever you want. Anything you choose to do, your photographer should be there to keep you relaxed and keep those moments rolling. Remember the day is ultimately about you, and I want your images to reflect that.
Did you get some helpful tips from this article? Part II comes out this week where I get specific about some photo ideas for your wedding day. Fill out your name and email below to be first in line when it comes out!