8 hours: A Wedding Photo Timeline:
Ceremony & Reception at the same wedding venue
1:00-1:30 – Groom Getting Ready
First I’ll start my day off by getting photos of the guys getting ready. When I show up, everyone should be showered, groomed, and 80% dressed. Pants on, shirts on but unbuttoned, and all details ready to be photographed. Be ready with drinks, coffee, whatever you’re happiest with. Let’s have fun!
1:35-2:15 – Bridal Preparations and portraits.
The details are an important part of your wedding day. So much thought and effort went into making sure it was all perfect, which is why I love to document it. It is also a great way for me to warm up for the rest of the big day. While I take detail shots, I will also grab candid photos of the bride and her ladies getting ready!
When hair and makeup is done, we will get the bride into her dress. This is the big moment! We want the mother of the bride and all the bridesmaids already dressed & ready to help! Everyone will look great in these images. I will then get the bride to put on the rest of her accessories. If that was quick, we will take some bridal portraits!
2:30 – First Look Time!
I will have picked out a gorgeous (and private!) first look location for you two to have a moment. We try to keep it away from all guests, friends, and family. But the wedding party is welcome to join us after a bit for some fun group photos!
First Look on Your Wedding Day? More thought’s on that, here.
2:40-3:15 – Portraits.
These are just for you two! After you take your time with the first look, I’ll take some romantic photos while the excitement is still present. I will find the locations for these portraits as well. The LIGHT determines where we end up. Unless you have a specific location in mind, don’t worry about it!
3:15-4:05 – Wedding Party Portraits.
Now is the time for bridal party shots! We can buffer in a little extra time later in the day to sneak some more in, if we feel inclined. But now is a great time to get some great group shots. I will make sure to get some great shots both separately and together! If the ceremony space is still empty, I will take these photos now. If the reception area is separate, I will also sneak over there to grab those photos!
Having a second shooter can make this go WAY faster if you’re tight on time. Otherwise, it leads us into putting the bride in hiding until the ceremony!
4:00-4:30 – Bride in Hiding.
The ceremony is about to begin, guests are arriving, and you don’t want to be seen by anyone else yet! If we have a second photographer, we will take some individual and paired up photos (if we need) while we are waiting to get the ceremony started! But this is a great time to relax before the ceremony! You’re almost married!!!
4:30 – Ceremony.
In my experience, most ceremonies take about 30 minutes tops. Unless you’re planning a traditional ceremony or adding in a special treat then you don’t need to plan for much more time than this!
5:00 – Family Photos & Cocktail Hour begins!
Have everyone you want in your family portraits ready by letting them know ahead of time what the plan is. A great resource I have is this family shot list that you can copy and paste from here! Having it printed off and ready with a member of the wedding party will allow this to go smoothly and stay on time.
5:30 – Additional Portraits and/or buffer time
This 20-30 period is a really great thing to have as a buffer in case of delays or wardrobe malfunctions, ceremony going long, someone wandering off before family photos, or just to have another few moments of quiet with your new spouse!
5:50 – Reception Entrance and Party Introductions
Your emcee will introduce your friends, family, and welcome you and your new spouse in!
6:00 – First Dance
Do something different and start your wedding reception with the first dance. Everyone’s already watching, and you probably don’t need the WHOLE dance floor to pull it off!
6:10 – Welcome Speech/Toast
Give all your guests a warm welcome, if your parents are hosting they may also want to say a few greetings. Keep it short and sweet, everyone is going to want to eat soon!
6:15 – Dinner or hor d’oeuvres & Speeches begin
You may have asked some family members or members of your wedding party to say a few words during the reception. This is a good opportunity for them to say a few words, toast to the bride and groom, and introduce themselves to everyone else. Longer speeches should be saved for rehearsal dinners and parties before the reception when you can really focus on what is being said. Games are good to pop in at the end of this period if you want them!
7:00 – Parent Dances
Lots of couples opt for combining a parents dance of the bride and her father with the groom and his mother. And then having a separate dance with their grandparents, which I think is so sweet!
7:10 – Wedding Party joins in!
Then it’s on! Your wedding party can join in and get the party started! Make sure your DJ knows to have some good tunes ready!
7:30 – Bouquet and garter toss
A small intermission for some good old fashioned wrastling from your friends. This is not something everyone is 100% into, so if games are more your style then do whatever floats your boat! You can even just keep the party going instead!
7:35 – Cake Cutting
I have experienced a lot of cake cuttings where the couples just want photos of them, and have their grandparents/parents watch. Either way, they’re going to want to see this sweet tradition!
7:40-8:00 – Party Time!
Then, after that slight quiet time, we can get back to the party!!
8:20-8:45 – Sunset Portrait Time!
This time is just a ‘baseline’ I’m adding in for the wedding photo timeline for sunset portraits. In July it is best to do them right around 8:30/9:00. But it also depends on the cloud cover and if we are in the mountains, prairies, etc. Don’t worry! I won’t forget about them. Just let me know if they’re important to you and we can figure out the best time to make it work! If you’re having a winter wedding, set this block closer to 3:30/4:00pm for optimum sunset goodness.
8:45 – 9:00 – Party Time or Exit Time!
If you are wanting a sparkler exit or glow-stick exit (works great indoors!) this is the time to stage it! I cannot wait!
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So, this would be my recommendation for your 8 hour wedding photography timeline and all the stuff you would have coverage of. It is extensive, and more than enough time to capture all the goodness on your wedding day! To be completely honest, the 8 hour wedding photography timeline I’ve written out above, would be an incredible day. Having the first dance at the very start of your reception is extremely different and a really interesting way to start the party.
If you’re not exactly at the point of planning out an exact eight hour wedding photo timeline, here is another blog post with where to start and what you should be considering! A Wedding Photographer’s Timeline.
Other things to consider when planning your wedding day timeline!
Ready to go?? Build your wedding day timeline here!