For Brides: Making a Wedding Day Photography Timeline | NC Wedding Photographer

This post is part of a series for brides (and grooms!) or for those who are helping someone plan a wedding. My goal for this series is to help you make informed and educated decisions about your wedding day so that it will be as beautiful as possible! If you're joining me for the first time, you can catch up here:

1. Should I Do an Engagement Session?
2. What Should I Wear for My Engagement Session?
3. Should I Do Bridal Portraits?

4. Making a Wedding Day Photography Timeline

Wedding Day Photography Timeline_DiPrima Photography_NC Wedding Photographer

Making a wedding day photography timeline may sound like a daunting task but it's very manageable once you have an idea of how much time your photographer needs to shoot each aspect of your wedding day. I meet with each of my couples a month before their wedding to help them finalize their timeline and then I try to stick to the timeline as closely as possible on their wedding day. Timelines are SO important because they help everything stay on track and organized on your wedding day and they enable your photographer to capture everything they need to get. Unexpected things always happen and a timeline is rarely followed exactly, but it is an extremely helpful guideline and it's important to stick to it as much as possible. Here's a few elements you need to consider when planning a timeline:

1. Start from the Reception and Work Backwards
When I'm planning a wedding day photography timeline, I find it helpful to start from the reception and work backwards in my planning. When you start thinking through your timeline, you won't necessarily know what time your photographer should arrive and so that's why I like to work backwards.

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2. Plan in Some Buffer Time
I always try and plan in a little more time then I actually need to get all of my shots. That way, I have a chance to be a little more creative and get as many beautiful images as possible! Also, things almost never run perfectly on time and so if you plan in some buffer time it won't be a big deal if everything doesn't go as planned. 

3. Make Sure Your Details Are Ready
When I arrive on a wedding day I usually shoot details first. Often times I find that no one has any idea where the brides' shoes, jewelry, wedding rings, flowers, invitations, and other details I need to photograph are located. It is absolutely crucial that you have all of these items ready for your for your photographer! I can compare weddings I've shot where the bride had all the details ready for me and weddings where they didn't and the difference is often hundreds of pictures! I'm able to get hundreds more pictures when everything is ready and a timeline is closely followed.

4. Communicate Your Timeline
Make sure that every wedding vendor, member of the bridal party, and family member knows your timeline. This is crucial. The photographer and bride may know the timeline but if the makeup artist doesn't know when to get your makeup done and your Grandma Sally doesn't know when to show up for family pictures, the timeline doesn't matter. I can't stress this enough. Please, please, please do yourself and your photographer a favor and communicate your timeline to everyone.

5. Make Sure Hair and Makeup is Done On Time
Things often get delayed on wedding days because hair and makeup isn't done on time and brides and bridesmaids aren't ready for their pictures. I encourage you to tell your makeup and hair people to have everyone ready at least an hour before they actually need to be ready for pictures. They way you and your bridal party can relax and have plenty of time to prepare for pictures.

5. Take Travel Time into Account
Make sure you account for travel time and over-estimate the amount of time you think you'll need. What if there's traffic on the drive to your venue or what if something unexpected happens? It's always better to have more time than you need.

6. Consider Lighting
I'll be talking about this a lot more in later posts but consider lighting when you make your timeline. For example, if you plan an outdoor ceremony at noon you're planning your ceremony during the worst possible lighting. Or if you're getting ready in a dark space with no natural light, your "getting ready" pictures will not have good lighting. Make sure there is a lot of natural light where you're wedding party is getting ready and make sure you consider lighting when planning your ceremony. I also always encourage couples to consider stepping away from their reception for 15 minutes to allow me to get some romantic portraits just before sunset. Even though I always take romantic portraits before the reception, the hour before sunset (it's called the "golden hour") is the best time to take pictures with the most beautiful light. And trust me, light makes ALL the difference in your photography.

Here's the tentative amount of time you'll need for each step of your wedding with and without a first look in the order I usually schedule my timelines (Please note: Every photographer does things a little differently and these timelines are just my own estimates based on how I work. Also, these timelines do not take travel time into account.):

Weddings With a First Look:
1. Getting Ready: 45 minutes
2. Details: 45 minutes
3. Bridal Prep (Bride getting in dress and bridal portraits): 30 minutes
4. First Look: 15 minutes
5. Bride and Groom Portraits: 30 minutes
6. Bridal Party Pictures: 45-60 minutes
7. Party in Hiding/Reception Detail Shots: 30 minutes
8. Ceremony: 30 minutes
9. Family Portraits: 30 minutes
10. Reception: varies
11. Optional Extra Bride and Groom Portraits at Sunset: 15 minutes

Weddings Without a First Look:
1. Getting Ready: 45 minutes
2. Details: 45 minutes
3. Bridal Prep (Bride getting in dress and bridal portraits): 30 minutes
4. Bridesmaid/Groomsmen Pictures: 45-60 minutes
5. Party in Hiding/Reception Detail Shots: 30 minutes
6. Ceremony: 30 minutes
7. Family Portraits: 30 minutes
8. Whole Bridal Party Pictures: 10 minutes
9. Bride and Groom Portraits: 30 minutes
10. Reception: varies
11. Optional Extra Bride and Groom Portraits at Sunset: 15 minutes

I hope this post helped you think through your wedding day photography timeline a little better! Check back next Wednesday for my next post in my "For Brides" series on how to get beautiful "getting ready" pictures.