Wedding Photography Timelines

Get the most out of your wedding package
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Your wedding photography timeline should be designed to capture all the important moments of your big day. Here are some tips to help you create a wedding timeline that will ensure you get beautiful, lasting photos that you will cherish forever.

Tips for Planning Your Wedding Timeline

1. Start by talking to your photographer about your wedding day vision and what kind of photos you would like to have. This will help them understand the type of shots you are looking for and the dynamics of your day and allow them to plan accordingly.

2. Work with your photographer to come up with a wedding day schedule. This should include when they will arrive, when they will take posed shots, candid shots, and any other specific requests you may have.

3. Make sure your wedding party and family members are aware of the wedding day schedule and know when they need to be available for photos.

4. On the day of the wedding, relax and enjoy yourself! The more fun you have, the better your photos will be.

Following these tips will help you create a wedding photography timeline that will result in beautiful, lasting photos that you will cherish forever.

How to Build a Wedding Photography Timeline | Step by Step

Download the sample wedding photography timeline below and follow along with our step by step guide while you fill out your sample timeline. 

Wedding Timeline Features To Consider: Follow Step By Step

1. Ceremony Time *start here*

Toggle content goes here, click edit button to change this text.

Always start your timeline with setting your ceremony time first, then work backwards or forward from there to build out the rest of your day. The time of day that your wedding ceremony may be dictated by your venue based on availability.. but there are a few things to consider.

Indoor or Outdoor Ceremony: Consider the location of your ceremony and what it will look like during photos. Editing can do a lot but it cannot help squinting and for this reason, we recommend 1.5 -2 hours before sunset in most cases.

Sunset time. Whether an indoor or outdoors ceremony, couples love getting portraits done outdoors as it gives a variety of backgrounds and more lighting options than indoor only.  We recommend 2 hours before sunset in most cases.

* if your ceremony time backs up to sunset you will need to have had nearly all of your portraits done before the ceremony, by doing a first look + portraits.

Fill in your ceremony time 

2. Exit | Photography End

Determining your exit, send off time or just reception photography end time will help you define when your day of wedding photography will start and also the time your photographer should arrive.

Things to consider:

-Your venue details: What time do you have to be out of the venue? Does that include clean up or do you need to plan for that? How long do you have the venue for? Understanding these details will help you create an effective timeline.

-Most standard receptions with dinner and dancing are 4-5 hours in length and can include a cocktail hour for guests. (a cocktail hour is needed for family portraits and any other portraits that weren’t done before hand)

-Most of the time photographers stay until your exit, however there some occasions where your photography might end before your wedding reception does. Some clients may opt for a fake send off in this case.

Examples:

  1. If you know you have an 8 hour wedding photography package and a true exit is important, then set your exit and photography end time 5 hours after your ceremony and this will allow for a 1 hour cocktail hour, a 4 hour reception, 1 hour for ceremony (hiding, precessional, ceremony and recessional) and 2 hours of pre ceremony time. Flex this forward or back depending on your needs but be sure to leave at minimum 2 hours before your ceremony time for detail shots and pre ceremony prep.
  2. You have an 8 hour photography package, you want more wedding day preparation photos or more portraits done before hand. Then you may set a 30 min cocktail hour and a 4 hour reception, or early send off 3 hours into reception. Flex your timeline to make it fit your vision.
  3.  If you have a 6 hour wedding photography package, you likely will only have 3 hours of time for your reception, leaving 1 hour for ceremony/hiding and 2 hours for pre ceremony. You may choose to have a shorter reception or just an early send off in this case.

Fill in the photography end time now as well as the planned exit time if there is one.

3. Photography Start Time

Hopefully by now you have an idea of your ceremony time, photography end time and or your exit.

Simply count backwards from your exit, the number of photography hours you have to use.

Example: 8 hour package – 10PM exit and 5PM ceremony time means a 2PM start time.

If all checks off and your venue rental allows for this timing, you should be good to go!

Fill in your photography start time

4. Pre-Ceremony Break

Guests will begin to arrive about 1 hour before ceremony.

so we recommend at minimum a 30 minute break before your ceremony to relax, as guests arrive, allow photographer to set up for ceremony and grab any last minute needed venue detail images as well.

5. Portraits

We highly recommend getting at minimum getting the bridesmaid and or groomsmen photos completed before the ceremony. If you can, also do a first look.

*Many couples feel strongly one way or another about a first look, you can read more about the benefits of a first look here.

Working backwards from your ceremony time, we recommend the following

-you should have already added a short break

 

A. Add Bridesmaid portraits- group shots and individual with bride 15-20 minutes (consider venue layout and time that is needed to get to areas you will want photos)

B. Add Groomsmen portraits- group shots and individual with groom. 15-20 minutes (consider venue layout and time that is needed to get to areas you will want photos)

C. Add First Look- optional If you opt for a first look, allow for at-least 20 minutes for a private moment with the couple and getting started on wedding portraits.

D. Add Bridal Portraits- if you need time for bridal photos add 10 minutes.

6. Getting Ready- Prep

For your couples prep you will want to leave time to capture at-least some highlights of hair and make up getting completed, wedding parties hanging out/ robe shots, detail photos of dress, getting dressed, rings, bouquets, lay flats with invitations etc.

A. add 30 minutes for bridal prep

B. add 15 minutes for groom prep

C. add 15 minutes for wedding detail shots

*If it is important to capture dressing, you may opt to add a full hour for  bridal prep.

7. Venue Arrival | Pre-Photography

This section is dedicated to pre photography timeline details. We love to advocate for our couples to have a stress-free and relaxed wedding day by planning a head!

Important: Arriving on time and getting ready is the biggest timeline piece that will set your timeline behind if you do not allow for enough time.

Things to consider:

-Time you are allowed to enter the venue- plan to be early so you are not late! Plan drive time ahead of time.

-Consider things you may need to do upon arrival to venue

-Work with your hair and make up artist (if you have one) to build an efficient timeline to get anyone completed on time. Do you have multiple artists or just one? How many people are getting their hair and makeup completed? What happens if you run behind?

A. Add your venue arrival time

B. Add travel time from any other locations prior to venue arrival

C. Add-in estimates for hair and make up 

8. Portraits / cocktail hour

This section is dedicated to post ceremony timeline planning. Keep in mind that any portraits that weren’t done beforehand will have to be done now. Hopefully you have a cocktail hour built in here; Guests can mingle while you complete your wedding portraits.

A. Family Portraits * Be sure to notify family who will be in photos as well as ask your officiant to announce your family to remain at ceremony site following the ceremony. Organization and cooperation is key here to get these photos done quickly and move on to the rest of the portraits. Add 20 minutes

B. Full Wedding Party Portraits  If not done before the ceremony you will need time to capture the entire wedding party, bridesmaids and or groomsmen photos. Add 15 minutes

C. Couples Portraits If not done before the ceremony you will need time to capture the bride and groom’s portraits. Couple may opt to do some additional portraits now as well! Add 25 minutes

9. Reception

This section is dedicated to post ceremony timeline planning. Keep in mind that any portraits that weren’ta

Generally your reception timeline is dictated by your DJ but we like to add a few photography considerations.

Things to consider:

Will there be a grand entrance?

Will you enter into first dance or will that happen later?

What time does dinner start- Plated and served, buffet and call tables?

Plan for special dances, wedding games, cake cutting etc.

Do you want to add time to mingle at each table and get a photo?

Add in 15 minutes if possible to sneak outside for sunset or dusk photos of couple?

done beforehand will have to be done now. Hopefully you have a cocktail hour built in here; Guests can mingle while you complete your wedding portraits.

A. Family Portraits * Be sure to notify family who will be in photos as well as ask your officiant to announce your family to remain at ceremony site following the ceremony. Organization and cooperation is key here to get these photos done quickly and move on to the rest of the portraits. Add 20 minutes

B. Full Wedding Party Portraits  If not done before the ceremony you will need time to capture the entire wedding party, bridesmaids and or groomsmen photos. Add 15 minutes

C. Couples Portraits If not done before the ceremony you will need time to capture the bride and groom’s portraits. Couple may opt to do some additional portraits now as well! Add 25 minutes

Finalize Timeline

By now you have made it through our timeline tutorial and hopefully have a good idea for a plan for the day. Feel free to move things around as needed and flex them to meet your wedding day needs!

Check out our timeline samples for more inspiration

Submit your final timeline to B+P not later than 2 weeks before your wedding date.

Sample timelines are based on 8 hours of coverage

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With First Look

Arrival: 3 PM
Capture Details | Dress, invitation spread, rings, shoes, jewelry, decor, venue, etc.
3:30 | Finishing make-up shots
3:40 | Bridesmaids in robes, cheers!
3:50 | Groom getting ready (Bride gets into dress at this time)
4:10 | Bride gets zipped up, shoes, earrings, veil etc.
4:30 | First look with dad or first look with Groom
4:40 | Bride and Groom Portraits
5 | Bridemaids & Bridal Portraits
5:20 | Groomsmen Portraits
5:40 | Venue Decor Shots
6 | Ceremony
6:40 | Family Formals
7 | Full Wedding Party
7:10 | Couples Portraits
7:30 | Bustle Dress +Wedding party line up for reception entrance
7:40 | Bride and Groom Entrance to Reception
11 |  Exit

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W/O First Look

Arrival: 3 PM
Capture Details | Dress, invitation spread, rings, shoes, jewelry, decor, venue, etc.
3:45 | Finishing make-up shots
4 | Bridesmaids in robes, cheers!
4:15 | Groom getting ready
4:30 | Bride dressing, shoes, earrings, veil etc.
4:50 | Bridesmaid + Bridal Photos
5:10 | Groomsmen Portraits
5:30 | Venue Decor Shots
6 | Ceremony
6:40 | Family Formals
7 | Full Wedding Party
7:10 | Couples Portraits
7:30 | Bustle Dress +Wedding party line up for reception entrance
7:40 | Reception Begins
11 |  Exit

Bushel + Peck is proud to offer completely customizable wedding photography made simple.

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