One of the most important factors of a wedding day is undoubtedly the timeline. The photographer is going to be soaking up the most time out of the day, so I recommend talking to them first about a timeline. Ask them to give you at least a rough outline of how long these different shoots will take. Obviously every photographer is very different, so take this with a grain of salt.
I like to break down each hour of the day with the couple maybe two to three months away from the date. That way it’s still fresh on my mind when we get to the wedding. I also recommend typing out a timeline that you can share with your vendors, and party members. To make your day go even smoother, give yourself about 5-10 minute windows for each time block. SO instead of saying leave by 2:00PM, say leave 2:55-3:10. That way, people that know the schedule don’t get antsy because the groom forgot his tie and is now a few minutes late for the first look. This also gives a huge break to your vendors. Obviously there’s things that need to be a set time as well ,such as the ceremony.
My most common booking is an 8 hour package. This gives plenty of time to get everything I need for a complete album. So that’s what timeline I will be basing this on.
Getting Ready –0:00-2:00 – For the first part of the day, if you want “getting ready” photos, you need to schedule at least 00:45 minutes to an 1:00 for each group of the wedding party. This gives plenty of time for the photographer to get what they need, and also some wiggle room in case we have to tidy up the room or even change locations for lighting. I often have to mock up makeup shots or hair styling because of the time of the other vendors doesn’t match the photographer.
Details + Scouting 2:00-2:30 – After the groups getting ready photos are done, I usually take a 20 minute walk around and shoot details. This also gives me time to scout locations for the first look.
First Look , Party, Family Portraits – 2:45-4:00– If you are doing a first look, this is where it needs to be. I tell everyone thats not a part of the media team to go away where they won’t be spying on the couple. This is a huge moment for them, and two people with cameras is enough. Depending on timing and light this isn’t a bad time for your family/ Party portraits either.
Ceremony- 4:00-4:45 -The next thing to happen is the ceremony. Some tips, mark where the bridal party is supposed to stand, and also place some where the bride and groom are CENTERED in the arbor. An announcement about keeping cell phones stowed is a nice touch too. I love for guests to take photos and video, just not during the ceremony. It takes their attention off of you in one of the biggest moments of your life. The ceremony usually doesn’t last long, in fact it helps to have some unique parts of your ceremony so that the photographer has time to capture all of it. The longest ceremony i have been in was 35 minutes (besides Catholic weddings).
Cocktail Hour/ Couples Portraits, Group Portraits – 4:45-6:30-The ceremony is usually followed by a cocktail hour, which is a great time to grab your family photos and couple portraits. This is all dependent on the first look, you could do all of this before the ceremony if you wanted to. In fact I prefer to have the bridal party, and family photos done before. That way after the ceremony I can keep an eye out on the lighting outside and grab the couple for some sunset photos. Doing this also lets the couple enjoy the party that they’ve spent a ton of time and money on because they aren’t taking photos the whole time.
Celebrate! -6:30-8:00– Once all of that is out of the way, it’s time for the bride and groom to enjoy their company, the massive party they threw , but most importantly each other.