The Wedding Timeline Guideline
Getting Ready and detail photos
Detail and final bridal stage: 2:30-3:15p (45 min.)
It’s helpful to set aside beautiful details like the dress (steamed, perhaps hanging from a special hanger), shoes, jewelry, both rings, invitations, etc. in a corner of the dressing room. That way, they are ready to go ahead of time when I have the opportunity to photograph them. I love to capture candid moments in the room while I’m shooting the details. This is also a great time to snap shots of bridal gifts, a toast with bride and gals in their robes, and the final makeup shot as the blush brush strokes across the bride’s cheek and she applies the last bit of lipstick before her lips speak “I do.”
Slipping into The Dress 3:15 - 3:30p (15 min.)
Now it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! I’ll usually ask that the mother of the bride and bridesmaids be dressed by the time the bride is ready to get dressed. This ensures that everyone will be picture ready in those images. Don’t worry if bridesmaids still need to do hair or makeup; there will still be plenty of primp time.
Bridal Portraits 3:30 -3:50pm (20 min.)
There are two advantages to having this time set aside: first, let’s be honest, how many of us girls actually get ready on time? If the bride is running behind, she can take advantage of this cushion to keep her on track. If she happens to be one of the few that are ready by now, then great! I’ll use this time to take a few bridal portraits while she’s at her freshest before the tears start falling at the first look reveal.
Groom Preps 3:20-4:00p (40 min.)
If the groom is getting ready nearby, my assistant or I will snap some quick shots of his shoes, tie/bowtie, cufflinks and blazer followed by candids of the groomsmen helping him get dressed. If you have a gift exchange with your fiance, save it for this moment. All this happens 40 minutes prior to the first look.
Tip #2 Before the photographer arrives, have all the other groomsmen dressed in their pants and shirt, ready for the final stage in photos.
The First Look
This is the big moment you have been waiting for! Don’t worry, I will make sure this moment is private and the location as secluded as possible because it’s all about the bride and groom. There are a few first look options to choose from:
- A tap on his shoulder
- Back to back (holding hands)
- Set up the Bride 3 feet way so he can fully see you in your attire.
My assistant and I will begin taking a few romantic portraits of the bride and groom right where they are. I’ll remind them to look at my camera so my assistant can focus on unexpected in-between moments. Here is a short list of what we aim for to get us started:
HEY GIRL!: Couple walking away from camera and I call out, "hey girl!"
LET'S WALK: Couple walks towards the camera holding hands, bride with one foot in front of the other, groom holding her flowers or hand in pocket, looking at the camera and then at each other.
WHISPER SOMETHING IN HER EAR: Groom whispers in her ear to make her giggle.
- UNDER HER VEIL: if she has a veil, then I go under the veil with the couple and ask them to play around and be romantic.
Remember, the LIGHT determines where we shoot so I can’t decide on exact portrait locations until the day-of, but no need to worry--if there’s a must have spot, we can always head back when the light is right.
Wedding Party Portraits
My assistant and I start by taking separate photos of the bride with each bridesmaid and the groom with each of his groomsmen. This allows some time for members of the wedding party that aren’t quite ready to trickle in, rather than waste time waiting for a group
After we’re finished with the separate shots, we take a couple photos of the groom with all of his groomsmen and the bride with her bridesmaids. Then we bring the whole party together for three group photos. Three is plenty, promise. In the end, the photos you cherish the most years down the road are those of husband and wife together, your family photos, and those candids that take you back to your story, you won’t be missing the extra wedding party photos you didn’t get.
TIP #3 Have someone put the boutonnieres on the guys BEFORE they arrive for portraits and make sure the girls don’t forget their bouquets
Tuck away period and more details
5:20-6:00pm (40mins prior to Ceremony)
While you’re hiding away from guests, I like to use this time to photograph your untouched reception area and ceremony hall details (if the reception and the ceremony are in the same location). My assistant will focus on capturing candids of guests arriving.
TIP #4 If the reception is in another area, I recommend having a cocktail hour outside of the main reception hall. That way I can still grab some photos of untouched decorations after the ceremony.
6:00-6:30pm (30 mins)
The average ceremony lasts no longer than a half hour. If yours is longer, I can make the correct adjustments.
Tip #5 ask everyone walking down the aisle to pause and look up before rushing nervously down the aisle. I can not tell you how many times people look down or hold their flowers up too high.
Family Formal Photos
This is the best time to take formal family photos because it saves time and allows me to stay at the reception a bit longer. If you don’t mind adding an extra hour, another good time is before the ceremony, which allows couples to enjoy the cocktail hour with their guests. I schedule 30 minutes for this, but as long as everyone is present, it only takes about 15 minutes. I send couples a questionnaire before the wedding to list the family shots they’d like me to capture.
Sunset Couple Portraits
15 mins right before sunset
This is the BEST time of day for portraits and most likely to be your favorite photos of the day. Even if we don’t catch the sunset, twilight is still a beautiful time.
THE RECEPTION BEGINS
Cocktail Hour 6:30-7:30pm
While I’m focused on your family photos, my assistant will be at your cocktail hour capturing the candid moments you’ll be excited see after the wedding.
The Reception 7:30-10:30pm (3 hours)
Now it’s time to be fed, hear the toasts, dance your first dance as a married couple, and get down on the dance floor. By this time, my schedule isn’t super detailed. Honestly, you probably won’t even notice us at this point. The focus is to capture real life events and moments rather than staged shots. Here is an example of what this time could look like:
7:30-8:30p - Dinner
8:10p - Start toast(s)
8:30p - First Dance, Mother and father dances
9:00p - Cake cutting
9:15-10:30 - Dancing
My standard collection includes eight hours of coverage so that I can be present for all the main events of the reception, and even about an hour of dancing! If you’re interested in having extra coverage or planning an exit and want it photographed, you can add additional coverage with my assistant or plan an exit after your ceremony.
I welcome you to email me if you’re interested in learning more!