Planning an 8 Hour Wedding Photography Timeline

April 15, 2019

Is this really part of the photographers job?!

Why, yes! It definitely can be. I have been asked more times than not what I recommend as far as planning the wedding itinerary goes.

 

Most wedding planners are pretty experienced in putting together a good timeline to follow, but some times they can leave out important moments. I love it when my clients ask me for input because it gives me the opportunity to introduce why I capture certain things are set times through out the day. For example, a first look vs. aisle look and how the timing of that can affect family and other group photos.

One of the most common questions I get is, “What time should I have the ceremony?” This is A GREAT question. I tell my bride the best time for that time of year based on the sunset and when there will be the least amount of harsh light:

March (after DST): 4:30 or 5 PM
April: 5 or 5:30 PM
May: 5:30 or 6 PM
June/July/August: 6/6:30/7 PM
September: 5:30 or 6 PM
October: 4 or 4:30 PM
November- February (after DST ends): 3 PM

 

The next question I get is, what kind of schedule should we be following? The typical schedule can change based on whether or not the couple would like to include a first look. You can read about the benefits of either reveal here.

Whichever reveal the couple chooses, here are my go-to 8 hour schedules for both the first-look and aisle reveal options:

 

With First Look:

11:00 a.m.—Hair + Makeup / Getting ready
(I arrive around 1:00 p.m.)
1:30 p.m.—Travel to venue for First Look
2:00–2:30 p.m.—First Look + Bride/Groom Photos
2:30–3:15 p.m.—Wedding party and family photos
3:15 p.m.—Travel to reception venue
3:30 p.m.—Doors open/ Pre-ceremony music starts
4:00 p.m.—Ceremony starts
4:20 p.m.—Ceremony ends (Possible travel time to recpetion venue)
4:30 p.m.—Cocktail hour starts
5:15 p.m.—Move guests into dinner
5:30 p.m.—Buffet opens / Dinner served
5:50 p.m.—Toasts
6:30 p.m.—First dance/Father-daughter/Mother-son dances
6:45 p.m.—Garter + Bouquet toss
7:00 p.m.—Cake cutting + dessert
7:15 p.m.—General dancing music starts
8:00 p.m.—Sunset portraits
8:26 p.m.—Sunset
8:30 p.m.—Dancing continues
9:00 p.m.—Last call + depart

Aisle Reveal: 

12:30 p.m.—Hair + Makeup / Getting ready
(I arrive around 1:00 p.m.)
3:00 p.m.—Travel to reception venue
3:30 p.m.—Doors open/ Pre-ceremony music starts
4:00 p.m.—Ceremony starts
4:20 p.m.—Ceremony ends
(Possible travel time to venue for wedding party + family pics)
(Guests head to cocktail hour)
4:30–5:30 p.m.—Wedding party and family photos + Bride/Groom photos
(Possible travel time to reception venue)
4:30–5:30 p.m.—Cocktail hour starts
5:45 p.m.—Move guests into dinner
6:00 p.m.—Buffet opens / Dinner served
6:20 p.m.—Toasts
7:00 p.m.—First dance/Father-daughter/Mother-son dances
7:15 p.m.—Garter + Bouquet toss
7:20 p.m.—Cake cutting + dessert
7:30 p.m.—General dancing music starts
8:00 p.m.—Sunset portraits
8:26 p.m.—Sunset
8:30 p.m.—Dancing continues
9:00 p.m.—Last call + depart

 

Planning the timeline does not need to be a stressful task for the couple. It is important for the bride and groom to enjoy their big day and the time with their guests, but you also want them to get the best value for their money. That is up to you to make it a priority for them to take advantage of optimal timing for their photos. This does not mean that you need to be pushy and make the day about yourself and your portfolio—it is about their imagery and their memories. Assure them that their guests will understand if they are away for photos at certain times of their evening. They will all be having too much fun drinking the bride and grooms favorite drinks, anyways!

 

For more sample timelines check out The Knot.

 

Comment your go-to wedding day timelines below!
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