How to Plan Your Wedding Photography Timeline

As a wedding photographer, one of the best things you can do to ensure your couples get the most photos out of their wedding day is help plan their wedding photography timeline. Your experience and thoughtful insight are invaluable assets to your couples. Mostly likely, this isn't your first wedding and for your couple, it probably is, so they are looking to you for guidance and advice. I wanted to share with you how I help each and every one of my couples plan their wedding photography timeline with or without a planner. 

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No. 1 - Educate Your Couples - Approximately 90 days before each wedding, I send all of my couples my "Tips for Your Wedding Day" email and a link to fill out my Wedding Prep Questionnaire online via 17 Hats. I include a list of my recommended timing for their wedding day and request detailed information about their wedding inside my questionnaire. Giving them this information 90 days in advance gives us enough time to plan accordingly and make any timeline modifications and overall photography coverage. Below is what I usually suggest for each part of the wedding day. 

// 1.5 hour for details & getting ready photos *not always possible, but I request it
// 30 mins for final prep & getting into the dress
// 1 hour for First Look (15 mins), Bride & Groom (45 mins)
// 30 minutes for Bridal Party photos *depending on size
// 30 minutes for Family photos *depending on size

No 2 - Create the Photography Timeline -  Once my couple completes their wedding prep questionnaire, I create their wedding photography timeline first draft. This is a complete breakdown of their wedding day from start to finish including their locations and photography requests for the day. With a well organized document, my couple can visually see how the day is scheduled and make timeline adjustments if necessary. For instance, if they have a lot of family photos requests, some couples might opt to move some pairings to cocktail hour or their even their reception to save some time during the beginning of the day.

Quick Tip: Be sure to include the travel time to each location. From the hotel, to the First Look, to Ceremony to Reception Venue. It all adds up and can eat up a lot of their wedding photography coverage which sometimes get lost when wedding planning.

No 3 - Work with the Planner (*if they have one) - If your couple has hired a wedding planner, I highly recommend introducing yourself and saying how excited you are to work with them. Next, I would send them your wedding photography timeline draft and coordinate with their master timeline. Wedding planners are scheduling the wedding day from start to finish and know all the little details that maybe your couple hasn't shared with you just yet. Having great communication with the wedding planner is so helpful for you, the photographer, and the couple to ensure get they get the best photos on their wedding day.

No. 4 - Plan for the Season and Sunsets - Another great tip is to plan for the season and sunset on your couples wedding day. With a quick google search you can find out when the sun is scheduled to set on their wedding day. Winter weddings usually means less light and Summer weddings have longer days with lots of sunlight. Letting your couple know when the sunset will occur is helpful in planning their ceremony start time and taking photos outside before it gets dark, especially if you prefer to photograph your couple in as much natural light as possible.

Everyone wants great wedding photos on their special day and being organized is the first step in ensuring a happy outcome for each and every one of your couples!


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