A Photographer Guide on Wedding Photography Timeline

Happy couple, wedding, bride and groom

Yes, it is true that there is no one-wedding-photography-timeline-template that suit all weddings. However, there are ideal timelines you need to consider when planning to document a wedding as well as must-have wedding photos list.

It is imperative that you discuss your wedding time frames with the couple of the day to ensure things run smoothly. You don't want to keep interjecting the groom and his bride whenever you want to take shots of them together or their accessories.

You need to set things straight from the word go so that the couple will know what to expect from you.

Keep in mind that most weddings run behind schedule, and thus you need to be swift in your work to avoid inconveniencing people.

To help you out, here is a sample wedding plan you can follow;

Shots of the wedding details - dress, rings, shoes, etc.

Wedding dress hanging outside

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, f2.8, 1/2000

Approximate time allotment- 20-30 minutes

Ideal time to take the shots- In the morning before bridal preparation process starts

Having a few minutes (20-30 minutes) to shoot the details ensures that you get the perfect photo of the rings, shoes, dress, bouquets, as well as other relevant details of the day.

Sometimes you may need to take the dress to your desired location so as to get better shots. This is something you should discuss with the couple of the day. You don’t want to surprise them on the morning of their wedding that you want to take their details outside.

Wedding preparation shots

Bridal preparation

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, f3.5, 1/640

Approximate time allotment- 2-3 hours

Ideal time for this- Morning

You need to designate enough time to get close up shots of the makeup being applied, the hair being set, as well as those few minutes when the groomsmen and bridesmaids get ready for the day.

It is important to mention that bridal preparation is a lengthy process and can take up to 3 hours. Therefore, ensure that you are available at this time to take as many shots as you can, including photos of ready make-up and set hair. Don’t forget to take shots of bridesmaid helping the bride or the mother helping the bride do the final touches such as setting the veil.

Also, don’t forget to take the full-length shot of the bride in her full gown, admiring herself in the mirror.

Keep in mind that these may be one of the funniest and most emotional times of the wedding day, and thus you should be swift to capture raw moments.

If you have a second shooter, notify the bride and groom that you will be taking shots of them with their friends and family. One shooter will be with the bride while the other one will be with the groom.

Shots of the wedding ceremony

Wedding ceremonyNikon D750, f1.8, 1/160

Now that all the preparations are over and you have taken some individual portraits of the couple and their bridesmaid as well as groomsmen, it is time to take the most important shots.

Wedding ceremonies are normally short, and thus you should have all your items ready before the bride and groom come to the venue. Make sure you get to the place 5-10 minutes earlier.

Keep in mind that there are crucial shots you should not miss out during this time:

- Groom waiting for the bride to walk down the isle

- Bridal arrival at the ceremony location

- Close-up of groom’s expression as he waits for the bride

- Bridal party as they walk down the aisle

- Bride and her escort waiting to walk down the aisle

- Close-up shot of the bride just before making her entrance

- Bride and her escort as they walk down the aisle

- Groom reaction upon seeing the bride walking down the aisle

- Bride and groom at the chapel or altar

- Wide shot of the alter from the guest side

- Wide shot of the guest from the front view

- Special moments such as readings and candle lighting

- Close up shots of the couple as they recite vows

- Close-up shot of the groom and the bride’s hands as they exchange rings

- “May now kiss the bride” moment

- Shots of the newlywed immediately after the ceremony is over

- Shot of the groom and bride hugging friends and family

- Shot of bride showing off her wedding ring to bridesmaid

- Newlywed leaving the ceremony site

These are the shots you should never miss.

Formal shots

Some couples want a picture with all their guests, while others only want pictures with selected VIPs. Make sure you discuss with the couple about formal shots.

Also, it is important to include shots of helpers from each side of the family so that they don't feel left out.

Shots of the immediate family

After the ceremony is over, it is important to take extra shots with parents, siblings, and grandparents beyond the ones you shot for the couple. You can plan to have them in groups.

We all know that weddings mean a lot to the immediate family, and it would be great to capture enough pictures with the couple of the day.

Shots of the wedding party

Bridal party, bride and bridesmaids

This is majorly the fun part where you can showcase your creative aspect. It is important that you discuss with the couple about the style of wedding photos they would like. This way, you will know if you will exercise more creativity when taking unique wedding photos.

Make sure to get pictures of the bride and groom with each bridesmaid or groomsmen. During this time, notify the bride that you will get a variety of shots in different possess. You can get started with the basic possess, as you proceed to other more creative possess.

Couples session in the golden hour

Wedding photography golden hour, photographer dylanmhowell.comCanon EOS 5D, Mark III, f5.6, 1/100, photographer: dylanmhowell.com

This is the time you take scenic shots with the sunset or colorful skies. If there is a spectacular view on the background, make sure you communicate with the couple the best time to get the best shots.

Maybe the sunset hitting the horizon or the sun striking the waters in the evening. Ensure that you talk with the couple on the need to have the shots taken at specific time.

Shots of the Reception

wedding Table With Plates and Flowers Filed Neatly Selective Focus PhotographyNikon D700, f3.2, 1/100

You should rush to the reception area to be ready for more shots. If you will not make it on time, it is advisable that you have the 2nd photographer head to the reception venue so that he/she can take shots of the venue before guests and the couple arrive.

Here are the shots you shouldn’t miss here:

- Shots of the exterior and interior before the guests arrives

- Shots of table cards, decorations, menus, centerpieces, table settings, decorations, favors, champagne glasses, and favors

- The cake

- Specialty drinks

- Guests arriving

- Bride and groom arriving

- Close-ups of family and friends making a toast

- Groom and bride sipping champagne at their table

- Groom and bride interacting with guests

- Bride and groom dance

- Bride dancing with her father

- Groom dancing with his mother

- Wedding party dances

- Deejay, entertainers, and musicians performing

- Bride and groom cutting the cake

- Bouquet toss

- Shots of the newlywed’s car

- Groom and bride leaving the reception

Bottom line

You should discuss with the couple if there are specific shots that should not miss in their album.

Also, you can request the couple to designate time for some night shots, especially if you appreciate night photography. You can opt to sneak out the couple when people are eating or dancing, or at the end of the night once most of the guests have departed.

We do hope that this timeline helps you organize your wedding photography plan with the couple of the day. Of course, you can add or leave out some of the shots we have discussed here, but often, all of them are essential.

Again, ensure that you discuss with the couple about the timelines, and share with them your schedule and the plan you have. This will help avoid confusion and interruptions.

Posted in: Photography for beginners