Wedding Day Timeline Part 1: How to Ensure you get the Most out of Your Special Day

Client Education

I saw a post from a friend a while ago saying that her wedding day felt like it revolved around her photographer getting the “perfect shot”… That hurt my heart. While, yes as a photographer I want to ensure all of my couples are left with beautiful images to reflect back on their day, I am passionate about making sure their photography experience revolves around their wedding day, not that their wedding day revolves around “taking photos”. Before booking, I send over an email expressing the importance of creating a timeline to ensure things run smoothly on wedding days. I even send over sample timelines to give our couples a look into what they can expect on their special day.

In this blog post, I’m going over the importance of creating the best timeline that allows for freedom to enjoy your wedding day, without feeling like it’s just a photographic production. After all, it’s your wedding day that we can’t just “do-over”… If you aren’t sure where to begin when booking the right wedding photographer, this sample timeline will help you see what important things I document on the typical wedding day.

The Pre-Ceremony Coverage (3-4 Hours prior to Ceremony)

The Details- 1 to 1 1/2 hours

Most of my couples book 9-10 hours of photography coverage to ensure all of their memories are documented. I begin each wedding day with bridal details. This included all those special items that you won’t ever want to forget. I love having some time to shoot your bridal bouquet, pretty shoes with bows, invitation suite, your rings or any other special heirloom items. These shots allow me to get “warmed up” for the rest of the big day. While I’m capturing these moments, you are spending time soaking up memories with your “girls” getting your hair and makeup done.

Getting Dressed- 30 to 45 minutes

After your hair and makeup are finished, it’s time to get in the dress! I usually ask the mother of the bride, grandmas and all the bridesmaids to be dressed by the time the bride is ready to get into her dress. This ensures that we can get a variety of shots with all the special women in your life. During this time, I allow heartfelt tears and laughs to play out organically. While I will place you in a specific place for best light, I don’t want to stop or hinder any moment that needs documented. I also have a second shooter to ensure these same images from before the ceremony are being captured for your groom.

First Look- 10 to 15 minutes

This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day! While not all of our couples will opt for a first look, the majority do, for a variety of reasons. You can read more about the benefits of a first look here. I find the perfect location to make sure the first look is as private and secluded as possible. After you both are dressed and ready to start the day, it’s during this time you have a few minutes completely to yourselves to say whatever you’d like!

Portraits- 30 minutes

After allowing for enough time for the first look, I will begin taking a few romantic portraits of the bride and groom while the initial excitement is still present! These are always so special because you realize that the day is finally here that you get to marry your best friend. This is just a little pocket of “extra portrait time.” Don’t worry though! We will have time for those glowy golden hour portraits too.

Bridal Party- 20 to 30 minutes

When everyone is present after your romantic portrait time, we move on to bridal party shots! I buffer in extra time throughout the day just in case we have some unexpected things that hold us up. Almost all of my couples get some time with their bridal party prior to the ceremony. This ensures we have more time after the “I-do’s” to enjoy the company of your beloved guests! Bridal party portraits are always fun.

Ceremony- 30 minutes

It’s time to get married! This is the most important part of your wedding day. It’s during the ceremony where I find myself tearing up at reactions from your friends and family or hearing heartfelt handwritten vows. Most ceremonies are about 20 to 30 minutes long. If your ceremony is longer, we’ll make adjustments to the timeline. I encourage all of my couples to soak up this time. The day truly goes by so quickly!

There are so many special moments that I document on wedding days. Often times, wedding days can get behind schedule. I always create cushions to have some buffer time. Remember, your wedding day is not a production… it’s a celebration with your closest loved ones. Come back next week for part 2 of creating the perfect wedding timeline! I’ll also have a free sample timeline to help you plan your wedding day timeline. Never miss a post, sign up for the email list here.

See you next week!


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I'm a family girl at heart. Some might say I'm an old soul. My deep roots in both faith and family are what inspire me to document and preserve lasting legacies for each couple I serve.

I believe in serving well and building a lasting friendship that allows you to trust that I will document your memories in an effortless and romantic light.

And I can't wait to get to know you!

I'm Zoe

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