1. Have a SEPARATE schedule for wedding photography
Having a clear schedule specifically for wedding day photography is key to feeling most prepared on your big day! Below is a list of a few things that are very common moments that are important to capture. Every wedding is different with its own personality and style, so this is definitely just a helpful guide! Here are general time frames that I suggest for each section:
Getting ready photos: 1-2 hours (candids as you normally get ready)
Dress, rings, floral details: 20 minutes (usually within the getting ready photos time frame)
First look + bride and groom portraits: 45 min-1 hr
Bridal party photos: 30-45 min
Family photos: 20-30 min depending on family size
Ceremony: However long your ceremony is!
Pre-reception details: 15 min
Speeches, reception moments: Candid as they happen
Bonus pre-sunset bride and groom portraits: 15-20 min
Dances: Candids as they happen
2. Work backwards
To plan for a perfect start and end time for wedding photography, it can be best to work backwards! Think of the last thing that you would like photographed, and count backwards to know your start time. If you have up to 10 hours, and you know that you want photos up until all first dances and speeches are finished and the dance party is rocking, think of what time the dancing will start. If you estimate 8pm, say your end time is 9pm. Working backwards, a good start time for photos would be 11am! Starting with getting ready photos at 11:00am and staying until the dance around 8:30 or 9:00pm is the most common wedding timeline.
3. Plan some margin
The last thing you want to be stressed about on your wedding day is: "We are behind schedule!!! 🙈" Scheduling all the big events is very important, but it is totally fine to take your time and not rush all of these moments! Leaving margin in the day is key so you can relax even if things run behind schedule. Your photos will turn out much better because we all know that we are so much more attractive when we are relaxed and happy compared to when our stress veins are popping out!
I am ALL about efficiency in taking photos, but the most meaningful moments often happen in the margin and the in-between moments. Margin helps for unexpected scenarios: flowers are a little late, you want to fix your hair, you can't find grandma... scenarios that are completely normal and no stress at all, if you have some proper margin and flexibility in your timeline :)
This is most important for the end of the day. Don't plan the end time for photography at the exact moment you think main events will end. Things are bound to get slightly delayed from time to time throughout the day, which adds up at the end of the night! I recommend about an hour of "cushion" at the end of the night so no one is stressed about end time, and you don't have to worry about being charged for going over.
4. Take time for yourselves!
You are getting married, and the day will fly by faster than you can imagine! If you don't plan some time for just you and your new hubby, you most likely won't have any. Plan a little extra time for your first look/bride and groom portraits so that you can relax and take in the moment. I also love when the bride and groom escape for even 10 minutes directly after the ceremony to soak in the moments just after getting married. These are the moments you want to remember! :) (And are really fun for sneaky/natural photos!)
Leaving aside time to just relax is also very important! For example, if ceremony begins at 4:00 we will want to be done with photos by 3:00 so there is time to relax and enjoying before it all begins :)
5. First looks are wonderful :)
First looks before the ceremony are so great because you get to be up close and personal to capture all the expressions, especially in an outdoor setting. Some people love the tradition of not seeing your groom and not letting him see you until you walk down the aisle, and there is something so special and romantic about that! I will definitely photograph weddings without a first look, but I highly recommend them. The main thing you want to think about is timing! Most of the time, right after you get married you want to just relax and hang out with your guests. Without a first look, you would need to take a couple hours to take photos after the ceremony and don't get as much time to relax and interact with your friends and family.
If you decide to not do a first look, be sure to tell your photographer far in advance and get advice for your wedding timeline to make sure everything will be perfect, considering lighting, locations, and timing.
6. Have SOMEONE TO HELP DIRECT
For family photos, have a friend or personal attendant who knows the family members stick around for those to help organize people! You can send me a list of all the family photos you would like, we can just go down the list. This way we are sure to get all the ones that you want, and someone who knows people by name is extremely helpful!
7. Have fun and enjoy your day!
Don't forget - your wedding day is going to be a such a wonderful memory and meaningful time! Schedules are to do the work and planning ahead of time so you can just go with the flow and enjoy the day as it comes. As a lifestyle wedding photographer, I love to capture the natural moments that happen. Things can go different than you expect, but it's important to roll with the punches whatever happens on your day, and remember that it is not just about a wedding, but about starting a new adventure together with the one you choose and love :).
Are you getting married and interested in talking about my photographing your wedding? I'd love to send you more information for specific pricing and availability!
Any scheduling questions? Comment below and I will get back to you to answer any specific questions about your wedding!