Wedding Photography Timelines and HOW TO PLAN THEM! -

October 25, 2020

Wedding Photography Timelines and HOW TO PLAN THEM!


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If you’re here, you’re probably overwhelmed with the thought of scheduling so many events throughout your wedding day and making sure there’s enough time for all of them. Just a guess…but it’s a pretty common problem. You’re not alone! This can be an overwhelming task if you don’t have some guidance or know where to start. Hopefully this blog will give you a bit of insight into what a typical wedding timeline looks like and how to make it your own! Below we will chat about a few categories and how long you should plan for each of them to take.

1. Getting Ready

Getting ready photos are some of my personal favorite things to take! While your bridesmaids are having their hair and makeup done this can be a great time for your photographer to capture some of the first detail shots. This will include ring photos, shots of your jewelry/shoes/save the date’s/veil, pictures of your gorgeous dress, etc! Before you get dressed it’s important that your photographer has time to capture these! We also like to capture candids of you and your girls getting hair and makeup done, doing a toast or reading letters from your groom! So with that being said…planning to have your photographer arrive when your bridesmaids start hair and makeup is a great idea!

2. Bridal/Bridesmaid Portraits

After your (the Bride’s) hair and makeup is all done, you’ll be ready to jump into that amazing dress! If you followed the advice above, your photographer will have already captured your details, shoes, dress, etc. Now it’s time to grab any last photos of you and the bridesmaids in your robes on the bed, popping some champagne, etc! When you’re ready to begin getting dressed, we’ll take some photos of you in your robe/getting ready outfit holding your dress, zipping up, putting on your jewelry and perfume, etc. This is a great time for mom, grandma, friends or other family to jump in and help you into the dress! We’ll be there along the way to capture the little moments, the struggle of 100 buttons (WHY!??!) and I’ll probably even bring you that crochet hook you might have forgotten. Lol!!!

Ok, now you’re all in your dresses and ready to go for some formal portraits! The more formals you’re able to take care of before the ceremony, the faster we can get you off to celebrate with your guests at the reception! We like to do the bridesmaids portraits pre-ceremony, first looks if you decide to do these as well as your bridal portraits. Here’s what you can expect for timelines on each!

Bridal Portraits: 20-25 Minutes

Bridesmaids Portraits: 15-20 Minutes

First Looks: 10-15 Minutes Per Person/Per First Look

3. Family/Wedding Party/Couple’s Portraits

Family formals are going to be a breeze…don’t even stress about it. Directly following the ceremony we’ll have all of your family members and the entire wedding party congregate somewhere nearby for pictures! We’ll start with family (specifically grandparents so they can go sit down) and work our way down to the wedding party photos. As we finish with each family member/group of family members they will be released to the reception where you can meet up with them later. Same with the wedding party…once we’re done with them, they can head on down to the reception or cocktail hour to wait for the grand entrance! This is when we’ll pull you (the Bride and Groom) aside for your couple’s portraits and wander off a bit just the 3-4 of us. I like to work as fast as possible to get you to the reception with your guests as quickly as possible. No wedding guest likes to wait FOREVERRRR for the Bride and Groom to enter…it’s just not cool. With that being said, average timeframes are below for you to look at…BUT if you have the ability to squeeze in more time for couple’s photos it can make a world of difference! Keep in mind that if you’ve already done a first look, some of the couple’s portraits may be able to be done before your ceremony!

Family Photos: 30-35 Minutes (Depending on Size of Family)

Wedding Party Photos: 20-25 Minutes

Bride and Groom Photos: 30-45 Minutes

4. Reception

Ok, so this isn’t really a “photo category” BUT I have things to say…so here we are making it it’s own category! If I could give one piece of advice to future brides from myself (who has wedding photo regrets) and also coming from myself as a photographer who’s seen it all before…it would be this right here. Plan your photographer’s timeline with memories in mind. My wedding photographer was AH-MAZING…but I didn’t schedule my time with her well. We scheduled her more toward the reception than toward the beginning of the day when allotting our package hours. Thankfully we had lots of great friends dancing through the night and making memories that she captured, but not every wedding has a full dance floor for 3 hours straight. Check out this sample timeline below for a 6 hour package…this is what we see often. While this timeline works, it’s not necessarily the best option to cover your day in it’s entirety. I think too often a 6 hour package is booked when an 8 hour package would be a better fit.

6 Hour Package

Photographer Arrives: 2:00PM

Ceremony Begins: 3:00PM

Grand Entrance: 5:00PM

Dinner: 5:30PM

Cake Cutting: 6:30PM

Dancing: 6:30PM-8:00PM

Now check out this revised timeline below from the same wedding covered with an 8 hour photography package. This allows you more time for getting ready photos, bridal/bridesmaids portraits before the ceremony, couple’s portraits at sunset and even some more dancing photos depending on how you allot your time.

8 Hour Package

Photographer Arrives: 12:30PM

Ceremony Begins: 3:00PM

Grand Entrance: 5:00PM

Dinner: 5:30PM

Cake Cutting: 6:30PM

Dancing: 6:30PM-8:30PM

SO…the moral of the story is to think about your day and what you want to remember the most. This day is about the two of you and each one is unique! Not everyone wants getting ready pictures and that’s okay! Not everyone will have a big reception with lots of dancing! Take a day to plan out your timeline and decide on what’s the most important to the two of you. Work your photography coverage around this and let your wedding photographer do the rest!

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