Wedding Timeline Suggestion,  Weddings

Wedding Photography Timeline Suggestions- Northern California Wedding Photographer

Based on recent experiences as well as some other tips I’ve gotten I thought It would be useful to do a post on timeline suggestions.

Please know that I offer help with building wedding day timelines.
I know that bringing the entire schedule of events together is challenging since…well, let’s face it…you probably haven’t been married before! 😉 I hope this post is helpful to you, if you’re a bride or groom who values wedding photos!

A few notes before we begin:

  • Plan all must-have shots to be done by sunset. Natural light is my best friend:)   The best time of day for outdoor photos is 2 hours before sunset. I will often look for lots of shade if we are shooting around high noon.
  • Make sure your flowers are delivered prior to your photos starting.
  • Don’t forget to allow for travel time between venues and shooting locations.

The below list is the standard amount of time “events” typically take on the day of the wedding. If it looks like there is too much time designated for something, that’s a good thing. Everything always takes longer than planned. Most wedding days (from preparation to leaving the reception) last anywhere between 10-15 hours.

Do you need a photographer for that whole time? Probably not. Typically I’m at a wedding for 6-8 hours. I typically aim to show up the last hour of the girls getting ready and stay until a bit after all the reception events (cake, toasts, dinner, special dances, bouquet/garter toss) are done. This doesn’t always work out…depends on when the ceremony is in comparison to the reception. If you are having a long ceremony or opt for a first look session then plan on hiring me for an extra hour or two.

The following order of events is if the bride and groom ARE NOT seeing one another beforehand and that the bride and groom are fine with not doing a receiving line and waiting until the reception to sign the marriage license.

BASIC ORDER OF EVENTS W/ TIME ESTIMATES (if NOT seeing one another before the ceremony)
30 min-1 hour: girls putting on dresses/finishing touches; the bride putting her dress on might not seem like it’ll take that long, but sometimes it can…consider if you have to lace it up, shoes, jewelry, garter, seeing your father??? etc. (The guys get ready during this time)
20-30 minutes: group girl shots (this is where it will come in use full to hire a second photographer. One photographer can be with the men while one is with the girls)
20-30 minutes: group guy shots
30 minutes: all bridal party members should have this time to relax while ceremony guests are being seated
30 minutes-1 hour: Ceremony 
30 minutes: formal pictures with family (I recommend keeping the family photos to immediate family members. If you want extended family member shots please add 15-20 more minutes)

15-30 minutes: full bridal party pictures    
30 minutes: bride & groom shots–the most frame-able pics of the day!!! (if you choose a location that is close to the reception or the ceremony site, that works perfectly!!!)
3-5 hours: reception

 The First-Look TIMELINE:
For brides and grooms who want to see one another well before the ceremony so they can be sure to get photos together of the two of them before sun down. Couples who opt for a First Look often end up with TONS of amazing photos and locations to choose from. If your ceremony is an hour or less before sundown, I highly urge you to do a FIRST LOOK. See this post on why I suggest doing a first look.
30 min-1 hour: girls putting on dresses/finishing touches; the bride putting her dress on might not seem like it’ll take that long, but sometimes it can…consider if you have to lace it up, shoes, jewelry, garter, seeing your father??? etc. (The guys get ready during this time)
45min-1hr FIRST LOOK(although, I will note, this must take place in shade if you want to not be squinting at one another!): You will end up with lots of amazing photos. We can even travel to a different location for different backgrounds.
20-30 min ALL GIRLS go with photographer for group shots; bride alone
20-30 min ALL GUYS go with photographer for group shots; groom alone
20-30 min full bridal party pics (just BMs, GMs and maybe ushers)
30 min.— family formals
30 min before ceremony.–all photos done; break until ceremony
30 min-1 hour ceremony
15 min.–a few more pics with anything we didn’t finish before the ceremony.

RECEPTION:
If you only have me photograph 2-3 hours of the reception, then plan your reception events wisely so you can get them all covered. Here is one order of events that works really well. 

  • Bridal party announce
  • dinner/food lines open
  • toasts at the end of dinner
  • cake cut
  • special dances (b/g first dance; father/daughter dance; mother/son dance) while cake is being eaten
  • bouquet/garter belt toss
  • DANCING!!!!! 

    For MY brides and grooms….if any of this confused you, just email me your ceremony time, let me know if you are seeing one another beforehand…and I will help you with the timeline! 🙂 Remember…my goal is to have happy brides and grooms. And though you hate to revolve your entire day around your photos, if you don’t make time for the photos you want, you won’t get the photos you want.