Ideal Wedding Photography Timeline

Ideal Wedding Photography Timeline

Tips for Preserving Wedding-Day Memories

On your wedding day, it’s important that your timeline allows for plenty of photographs in the best light possible. Every wed­ding is dif­fer­ent and with the diversity of the cultural aspects of weddings, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact wedding photography timeline template, however, here is what we con­sid­er a loose guide­line to help you visu­al­ize your day and your pho­tog­ra­phy to max­i­mize pho­to­graph­ic pos­si­bil­i­ties on your wed­ding day.


This is the exact timeline that allows me to ease into the day, create the types of styled detail photos I’m known for and give my clients a stress-free wedding photography experience:


Having at least 30 minutes for details ensures that we have plenty of time to get that perfect photo of the dress and all bridal attire, rings, shoes, bouquets, the bride’s jew­el­ry and any oth­er impor­tant items (such as let­ters from the groom, bor­rowed items and the other details of the day.


Having an hour of preparation is ideal for our style of wedding photography. During this time, we are getting close ups of the makeup and hair being applied as well as the candid moments of the bride and her glam squad (make­up artist and/or hair­dresser), bridesmaids and groomsmen. Also, if the Mom and any oth­er mem­bers of the bridal par­ty are present, we will catch them inter­act­ing with the bride. Keep in mind that these are some of the most emotional and fun times of the day when brides like top blow off some steam and have fun with their brides­maids, so you don’t want to cut it short. We encourage a lot of cre­ativ­i­ty! We will also shoot groom details such as any jew­el­ry and wrist­watch­es, bou­ton­nieres, etc.


Right after prep and the bride is fin­ished get­ting ready, is the best time for individual portraits of the bride and groom (separately). Besides makeup and hair being completely fresh, the day hasn’t gotten hectic yet so we can take our time and get those perfect portraits. We shoot for a reflec­tive por­trait of the bride look­ing for­ward to the day — and her life — ahead.


We recommend 30 minutes to take pictures of the cer­e­mony loca­tion prefer­ably before guests arrive, completely set up with no guests or vendors in the area. Before you have the guests seated, it’s important that we are there to capture the complete set up of your ceremony site so we can capture the scene at its best. All the flow­ers, dec­o­ra­tions, alters, hup­pahs, etc. Also, before the guests are seat­ed, we will take pho­tographs of the recep­tion hall or tent, table arrange­ments, decor, the wed­ding cake, favors, and any oth­er spe­cial items.

The Ceremony – 30 or 40 min­utes

It’s time to get married! We take can­did shots of the entire cer­e­mony from mul­ti­ple angles, with guest reac­tions. Most ceremony average to be about 30-40 minutes, for longer ceremonies we’ll just make adjustments to the timeline. Cherish these moments – the ceremony will go by so quickly!


During the reception, please plan on sneaking out for a couple of night shots for a quick, roman­tic pho­to — out­side the venue near sun­set; under a moon­l­it sky. We only need 20-30 minutes, the ideal time for this is right after you grab a bite to eat or during the open floor dancing after you’ve danced a few songs and would like a break. Another suggestion would be to get these shots at the very end of the night once all the guests have departed. The­se may well be the most mem­o­rable shots of the day and we are hap­py to wrap up by tak­ing some beau­ti­ful, inti­mate pho­tos of you.

FORMALS – 1 hour or less

Formal portraits normally take place immediately following the ceremony and should take around 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of your family and the number of guests. Formals are por­traits of the bride and groom with their imme­di­ate fam­i­ly mem­bers, mem­bers of wed­ding par­ty, and any oth­er VIPS. If the wed­ding is small and inti­mate, we may shoot a group pho­to of all the guests. We also recommend being very organized, with a list of groups and helpers from each side of the family to help round people up. We all know how much weddings mean to the immediate family, and we want to make sure we’re capturing enough pictures with them. Wedding Party Photos should be around 45 minutes to 1 hour, as well. During this time, we get a variety of shots in a variety of poses. We start off with the basic, classic photos focused on great expressions and lighting. Then we move into a set of fun and creative shots.

THE RECEPTION – 4 hours +

Time to celebrate! We take can­did shots of Intro­duc­tions, First Dance, Par­ent Dances, Toasts, Cut­ting the Cake, Bou­quet and Garter Toss, open floor danc­ing, and any oth­er wed­ding games or activ­i­ties. I’ll spend this time to focus on the overall excitement of the couple, bridal party, and guests. Depend­ing on the bride and groom, we can also work the room tak­ing shots of the cou­ple inter­act­ing with groups at each indi­vid­u­al table. There are two options for photography during this time. (1) You can take formal pictures with each table or (2) we can simply focus on photojournalism, capturing the smiles and hugs as you mingle with each table. If you’re planning on doing formal table shots, please keep in mind that these will take about 3-5 minutes per table. For example, 20 tables would require 60-100 minutes of time.


Keep in mind that 1) the day will fly by, 2) most weddings run slightly behind schedule, and 3) we’ll make these photo sessions fun, so it won’t seem like a long time.

Most couples invest a substantial amount of time in planning their wedding and it can become a bit overwhelming to attempt to figure out how long everything takes. This post will help guide you through what I consider to be the “ideal” wedding photography timeline. At the end of the day, I just want the ability to shoot what I love, create beautiful images, make the photography portion of the day as enjoyable as possible for everyone, and do so without any stress. My clients deserve that and creating a photography timeline alongside your photographer will ensure that you are giving them everything they need to deliver for you.

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