Wedding Timeline Planning

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Wedding timeline planning is one of the easiest ways to get yourself organized. The timeline is great to have as a little reminder of all the activities in the day! Also, it’s incredibly helpful to your photographer to know when events are starting and where they’re happening!

The photographer normally arrives one hour before the bride is ready to go. Or to think about it another way, they’ll arrive 3 hours before the ceremony starts! This can vary on a few factors, like if the couple is doing a first look or not. The bridesmaids will have their hair and make-up done by this point. The groom and groomsmen will still be hanging out in their boxers and drinking beer.

During the first hour, your photographer will shoot getting ready images and detail shots. It’s always helpful to have your details in one spot because then you won’t have to hunt for something you wanted captured! Details to consider are shoes, veil, dress, invitation suite, rings, flowers, jewelry, and anything personal!

After the first hour, it’s go time! Robe/PJ shots! Bridesmaids get dressed! Bride gets in her dress! Indoor bridal portraits! Groom and groomsmen get their pants on! Potentially a first look. Bridesmaids portraits! Groomsmen portraits! Everything in between!

Wedding Timeline Planning Guide

Bride & Groom Portraits

Plan 30 minutes for this! The other option is to plan two time sessions. One is a 20 minute main portrait session and the is a 10 minute sunset session (this applies if we’re doing photos way before sunset).

Bretton Woods Wedding, Wedding timeline planning


Bridesmaids Portraits

Plan ~20 minutes for this (this could change depending on your bridal party size). If you have a small bridal party, you could knock out photos in 15 minutes. For larger groups you’re better off scheduling for 20 minutes. This will give you time for a variety of group shots, a variety of detail shots and different angles, dynamic poses, and shots of each bridesmaid with the bride. You’ll spend more time photographing the ladies than the gents (normally) because there are more details like the flowers. Plus, let’s be honest ladies, we do a lot more giggling than guys.

Belle Mer Wedding, Wedding timeline planning

Groomsmen Portraits

When wedding timeline planning, schedule ~15 minutes for this (this could change depending on your groomsmen party size). If you have a small group of guys, you could knock out photos in 10 minutes. For larger groups you’re better off scheduling for 20 minutes. This will give you time to get a variety of group shots, a variety of detail shots and different angles, dynamic poses, and shots of each groomsmen with the groom.

*If I’m your photographer, please note: 90% of the time groomsmen are ROWDY. This doesn’t help picture taking, so I do get a little feisty with them (not mean, just feisty). The more they listen (rather than moan about having to put down their beer for 15 minutes), the faster this process can take. I try to be very mindful of the fact that gents aren’t super into being told what to do by a small woman holding a camera and cramping their drinking time, so the more you prep your groomsmen to stop talking and listen, the better. (I know, I know, so snarky)*

swan cove manor wedding, Wedding timeline planning

Full Bridal Party Portraits

I really try to limit full bridal party portraits to 10-15 minutes. This is simply a shooting preference due to the fact that there is a large group of people. Attention spans are short. If you can bust out a variety of shots (with everyones eyes open) in 10 minutes, your group of people tend to be happier! In 10 to 15 minutes, I can get plenty of great shots of the whole group.

Inverness Farm Wedding, Wedding timeline planning

Family shots

This is one of the toughest parts of the day! If you are looking to have large family group shots (think aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and your immediate family) please, please schedule 30 minutes. A lot of the time gets eaten up actually getting everyone to the location the photographs are going to be taken! If you are looking to just have immediate family group shots (parents, siblings), please plan 15 minutes! The best way to get through family portrait time is to inform those you want in the images that they are having their time in the spotlight immediately after the ceremony. I send out a family shot list about a month before the wedding, and there we’ll be able to talk through executing this time and using everyones time effectively!

Need help wedding timeline planning? This is an example of a wedding with a first look.  Check it out by clicking here!

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2 Comments

  1. I love that you did this from the photographers perspective – so many times clients only see what has to be done, but ultimately the photos are what they have left! Great post!

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