Planning out a timeline can be HARD and maybe you have no idea where to begin. Everyone that you ask is probably throwing different ideas and suggestions your way and navigating that can feel overwhelming. Here are some tips from a photographer's perspective to planning a relaxing, fun, memorable wedding day.
1. Keep lighting and time of day in mind.
If you're getting married in June, you can pretty much count on there being light in the sky until 9 p.m. But does your first look fall right around noon, when the sun is the highest in the sky and casts harsh shadows? Keep that in mind and know it'll be best for your photographer to set this up under a shady tree. Or if you're getting married in January when the sun sets around 5 p.m., maybe you want to consider ending your ceremony before 3 p.m. so you don't loose light for portraits with your love.
2. Take travel time into account.
Whether "travel" means the 30 second walk from your ceremony to reception or a drive across the entire city of Seattle (I've done it), it's important to account for this time and to always leave some wiggle room. Which brings me to my next tip.
3. Budget extra time for EVERYTHING.
There are some things you just won't be able to control on your wedding day. Maybe someone was running late. Maybe we couldn't find the corsages. we couldn't find Grandpa when it was time for family photos. Maybe Grandma has a hard time walking and it takes her awhile to get into position. You don't want to assume that things will go wrong, but having a rigid schedule makes everyone stressed. Budgeting extra time allows you to sit back, relax and enjoy. And if you have 15 more minutes to do nothing before the next thing starts, take that time to soak in the day with your love.
4. Consult the experts.
Obviously, wedding planners and day-of coordinators if you have one are a GREAT resource. They can help you plan out your day and show you what it could look like. But I encourage you to absolutely consult your photographer as well. While coordinators may be the experts on planning for how long you should budget for your receiving line or how long getting 150 people through a buffet actually takes, photographers are the ones who know how long you should schedule photos for. Getting 25 people in one photo to focus, get into a group, look good and smile at the same time is even harder than it sounds. Consult your photographer about how long they would feel comfortable having for photos. Or read my guide below!
So how long should you budget for wedding photography at every point? Some of these elements may seem long on paper, but the day is going to fly by, and it's important to allow adequate time to capture your precious memories. Also, I guarantee I'll make our photo sessions a blast, so it won't feel like a long time at all.
rings, dress, shoes, invitations and other details
Ideal Time Allotment - 30 minutes
These photos include your rings, your dress, shoes, invitations, and other details that you so carefully thought out for your special day. It takes some time to get these shots perfectly laid out, but it's so worth it in the end to get all the details captured that you spent so much time planning out for your day. These details can be so intimate and special - for example, in one of the photos you see here, the bride's dad handmade the box that their rings are in. It's so special to have something like that captured to remember forever
Ideal Time Allotment - 45 minutes
These photos are such a fun, casual and yet intimate way to capture the moments leading up to marrying the love of your life. Some of my personal favorites include final touches on makeup, moms and bridesmaids buttoning up the bride's dress, putting on shoes, jewelry, etc, and groomsmen goofing around. These look like whatever you want them to though, and can really capture candid, sweet moments with you and all your friends in a laid back setting.
It's especially important to allow for a lot of time for these shots if you only have one photographer, as they'll have to bounce back and forth between the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Totally doable, but one photographer can't be in two locations at the same time!
If you opt to not do a first look, it's possible to do some photos of just the bride and bridesmaids, and just the groom and groomsmen during this time as well. Best add 30 minutes to that time frame though! But helps save you some time post-ceremony.
Ideal Time Allotment - 30 minutes
While we might not spend the entire 30 minutes shooting the first look, it does take time to get everyone into position and ensure the groom doesn't see the bride before the big reveal. Having some wiggle room timewise will help make sure you don't feel rushed in this intimate and personal moment, and also allows us to grab some portraits of the two of you together before going into the ceremony!
If you opt not to do a first look, you can use this time to do a "first touch," where you stand on opposite sides of a door, take this time to pray together, etc! Or you can opt for a first look with dad, brothers, or anyone else important to you! It can also be used as a time to get photos of all the groomsmen separate from all the bridesmaids in order to save time after the ceremony.
Ideal Time Allotment - 30+ minutes
Family photos are so important. And the larger the family, the more time you should allow. There are so many possible combinations of family members needed for a variety of photos, so this can take a good amount of time.
If you opt to do a first look, it's great to do these as one of the final things before the ceremony. We can find a pretty location and get them done while people are arriving, or if you would like to do them at the altar where you're getting married, they can be done before guests arrive!
If you opt to not do a first look, I like to do these right after the ceremony, right at the altar. This allows for family older family members to not have to wait around for awhile or walk very far to get to the photo location. It then allows them time to get to wherever the reception may be, or allows them to aid in setting up or transitioning rooms for the reception.
bridal party photos
Ideal Time Allotment - 30+ minutes
The more time you can allow for these photos, the better! Wrangling up a big group of people, getting everyone to smile at the same time, hold their bouquets in the right way and clasp their hands the same way takes some time! But it is oh-so worth it!! Look how CUTE these photos are!
If you opt to do a first look, it's great to do these following the first look. The bridal party probably got ready with you and will be eagerly awaiting to see you two together post-first look.
If you opt to not do a first look, I like to do these after family photos, after the ceremony. The bridal party is almost always willing to go anywhere, so it's fun to go to a location different from where the family photos were. And if you decided to do
Ideal Time Allotment - 45 minutes (and an additional 20 minutes around sunset)
Such a special and intimate part of the day, you definitely don't want to rush this! These can be done right after the first look or after group photos while everyone heads to the reception, but that will most likely fall right in the middle of the day, potentially with some harsh sunlight. I will ALWAYS recommend sneaking away at golden hour (<1 hour before sunset) or sunset to get some STUNNING photos of you and your new spouse!
If you opt to do a first look and included time for some couple photos during that time, you can cut back a little time here or lump those two together, but again, you really don't want to rush these moments!