Planning Your Wedding Photography Timeline

Planning your wedding timeline

There is nothing better than looking back on images we love. They remind us of the stories and emotions and allow us to relive our best memories. Your wedding day will be full of moments you want to have captured, but that doesn’t happen automatically. One of the most important aspects of your wedding is having a good plan, one that takes photography into account. Without a proper understanding of how photography interacts with your wedding timeline, you risk running behind in your schedule, leaving your guests unattended, and missing out on the photos you want most.

I work with each of my wedding clients to make sure we have a plan in place well before the wedding date. Even if they have a wedding planner, two to three months before they say, “I do,” we have a phone conversation to hash out details. It is important for everyone to have the same expectations, so today I want to give you tips for planning your wedding timeline to maximize your photography.

DC Wedding planning

Plan more time than you think you need.

Every wedding I have been a part of has had some aspect of their day that took longer than expected. Plan extra time in your schedule and know that things might take a little longer than you thought. There might be traffic on the way to your reception, you might want to take a few more minutes to get your hair perfect, or you might want to run out to grab photos with the incredible sunset light. Giving yourself buffers throughout the day will help you relax and not have to live minute by minute.

I also suggest that my clients be done with any official photos 30-45 minutes before the ceremony. Downtime is important, your wedding isn’t all about photography and you need time to rest, enjoy the day, and be with your most important people.


To first look or not?

The ever important question, should I have a first look or should we see each other for the first time at the ceremony? While I love the tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony, there are some big benefits to having a first look. Seeing each other before allows you to capture images with each other, your bridal party, and even family before the guests arrive, giving you the opportunity to visit with friends and be present at your cocktail hour. A first look can be an incredibly special, private moment with each other or it can be a big reveal with family and friends present. Just make sure you aren’t missing out on...

wedding golden hour

Using the best light of the day.

If your summer wedding is at 5pm that means a first look would have to take place roughly between 2 and 3pm. At that time of day in the summer the sun is high in the sky, giving you deep shadows under the eyes and casting light that isn’t the most flattering. While a good photographer can work in any lighting condition to give you amazing images, it can be helpful to plan some of your photography to happen during the best light of the day. Try to schedule a moment during the hour or two before sunset, closer to 7pm in the summer, when the light is at a lower angle, to capture portraits together.

I also suggest to my clients that they leave a few minutes to capture a night portrait. Taking a few minutes to capture photos with starts or city lights can give you some very unique images and will give you a few moments rest before going back into the party.

wedding vendors

Coordinate with all vendors.

Wedding planners are extremely helpful to coordinate all of your vendors and make sure everyone has the same schedule. But if you don’t have a planner, simply send out a timeline to all of your vendors to get everyone on the same page. I typically send out my schedule to all the vendors after talking with my clients 2-3 months before the big day. My biggest priorities are to talk with your hair and makeup artist to confirm when you need to be ready for photos, and with the DJ or band to understand the flow of the reception.

Don’t die by the schedule.

For some, it is tempting to want to want to push the day along. You’ve been planning your wedding for months and it is understandable, you know all the details and could easily tell everyone what to do. But as a bride or groom, that isn’t your job! I encourage you that once you have a plan in place, forget about it and let others take control. Focus on being present and let things happen however they might. Be in the moment on your wedding day and soak it all in, it will go by faster than you want it to.

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