The Perfect Wedding Photography Schedule
Better three hours too soon than a minute too late. – William Shakespeare.
With so many years in the wedding business, we know that there’s nothing better than a stress-free wedding day when everything runs on time, people are ready to take pictures when you need them, and you have the creative freedom to do your job well capturing all the beauty of each wedding day. To make sure this is always the case, we always discuss with our clients our wedding photography schedule.
And although with the diversity of the cultural aspects of each wedding, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact wedding photography timeline template, there are ideal time frames you should consider when planning your day. Some of these times may seem long on paper but keep in mind that the day will fly by, that most weddings run slightly behind schedule, and that we’ll make these photo sessions fun, so it won’t seem like a long time.
Wedding Photography Timeline
The photographer and the wedding coordinator have the most control over how a wedding day is run. Along with your wedding planner, we’re always aiming to create the best wedding day experience we possibly can for our couples and their families. After years of shooting weddings of all shapes, colors, and sizes, we’ve curated a schedule that has become our foundation for every wedding we shoot and to this day has been an immense help for us and our couples. This schedule changes, of course, based on the unique logistics of a particular wedding day. However, the true value of the said schedule isn’t so much the exact timing as it is the principles behind the timing – giving ourselves time and space to photograph what we need to and when.
But, let’s get to the main point. Below is the basic wedding photography schedule we use for every wedding. Every wedding is different, but this is the kind of schedule we always shoot for.
· 12:00 Getting Ready
· 12:45 All Hair and Makeup Finished
· 1:00 Dress On and Final Touches
· 1:30 First Look; Bride and Groom Portraits
· 2:30 Wedding Party
· 3:00 Family Portraits
· 3:30 Break / Detail shots
· 4:00 Ceremony Begins
· 4:30 Ceremony Ends
· 4:40 The Couple (and the beautiful editorial moments!)
· 5:10 Couple Joins the Cocktail Hour
· 5:30 Grand Entrance to Reception
Wedding Getting Ready
We always give ourselves plenty of time to shoot getting ready details such as jewelry, shoes, dress, cufflinks, makeup being done, etc. Having at least 30 minutes for details ensures that we have plenty of time to get that perfect photo of all the beautiful bridal and groom details. We don’t want to feel rushed, so we build that time into the schedule. Also, there are times when a hotel room is too crowded or simply unappealing; we have to take the dress all the way down to the lobby or even outside. This is time that needs to be calculated and thought after.
Having enough time for preparation is ideal for our photography style. During this time, we are getting close-ups of the makeup and hair being applied as well as the candid moments and the bridesmaids and groomsmen get ready for the day. Keep in mind that these are some of the most emotional and fun times of the day, so you don’t want to cut it short. We also schedule a specific time for the dress to go on, and we allow at least 30 minutes for this. This helps the makeup artists, hairstylists, mother of the bride, and bridesmaids know when they need to be done, dressed, and ready (and allows for a cushion if they run late). It won’t take 30 minutes to put on most wedding dresses, but it allows the bride to relax while putting on the dress, slipping on jewelry, hugging her mom, and laughing with her bridesmaids. Plus, we get to spend a few minutes photographing just her before heading out for the First Look. Right after prep is the best time for individual portraits of the bride and groom (separately). Besides makeup and hair being completely fresh, the day hasn’t gotten hectic yet so we can take our time and get those perfect portraits. Also, keep in mind that the window lighting in most hotel rooms creates a unique look that can’t be duplicated in any environment throughout the rest of the day.
Food for thought: Check out our guide all about planning for your perfect wedding details shots!
The First Look
Again, we schedule a specific amount of time for this. During this time, the bride and groom enjoy seeing each other for the first time on the wedding day. This means we can let the couple relax and enjoy hanging out with each other for fifteen minutes, and then we can grab all of our “have-to-have” shots just after (ie couple looking at the camera, individual portraits, bouquet, boutonnière, etc). We capture so many candid, emotional moments during the First Look simply because we allow time for the couple to relax, feel their emotions, talk about the day, and live in the moment. While the actual first look might only be 5-10 minutes, the rest of the time is spent on a few basic portraits of the bride and groom. Ideally, we are saving the bulk of the couples session for later. However, if there is no other time in the day, it is best to allocate another 45 minutes to an hour here so that we make sure we have enough photos of just you two.
Also, if worse comes to worst and things ran late during the getting ready process, we don’t need to use the full amount of couple-time – we have also scheduled some time after the ceremony. We can relax through the first look, grab a few portraits, and just move right into the wedding party and make up some time. Wedding Party Photos should be around 45 minutes to 1 hour. During this time, we get a variety of shots in a variety of poses. We start with the basic, classic photos focused on great expressions and lighting. Then we move into a set of fun and creative shots. Finally, we know how much your wedding party means to you, so we are sure to get pictures with you and each one of your bridesmaids or groomsmen individually.
After we shoot 30 minutes of the wedding party, we move into 30 minutes of family portraits. Even though a little unorthodox, doing the family portraits before the ceremony accomplishes several things as there are no distractions and we can move quickly, we save that amazing light after the ceremony for just the couple, the family can immediately enjoy the cocktail hour and greet their wedding guests right after the ceremony.
Once we’re done with family, it’s time to hide the couple away as wedding guests start to arrive. Thirty minutes before the ceremony is the best time to capture all of the wedding details, and we work with our couple, the coordinator, and the catering manager to make sure that everything is completely set up at this time. This is the only way we’re able to capture as many details as we do – we make them a priority and we schedule time specifically for this purpose. Of course, if the ceremony and reception are at different locations, we make sure that the details are ready to be photographed during the cocktail hour and that guests are held back until we’ve been able to capture everything.
Once the ceremony is over, it’s time for the fun part! Because we’ve taken all of the necessary “have-to-have” images before the ceremony, everything we take during this time is just extra magic to the wedding gallery! The light will be beautiful, the couple is excited, and we can relax and get into the groove of shooting. Couple sessions should be around 1 hour and should take place ideally 30 to 45 minutes before sunset. The is the best time in terms of lighting. This also allows us to capture awesome scenic shots with colorful skies you’re pretty much always guarantee to get in Greece. After that, the couple can join their guests in the cocktail hour or hideaway and spend some time with each other before the craziness of the reception. We can’t think of a better way to enjoy your wedding day!
Scheduling our wedding days has brought us amazing results – not only are we shooting according to the best light of the day, but we’re allowing for vendors or people that may run late ( and this always happens, so it’s better to be prepared!). Again, every wedding has different logistics and details, but these are the basic guidelines that have helped us a lot during our careers.