Wedding Photography Timeline

As a wedding photographer, one of my responsibilities is to draft a wedding day photography timeline. This timeline is used for the following purposes:

  • Makes sure that we have ample time to document all the details from the wedding day.
  • Makes sure that the Bride, Groom and second photographer are on the same page as me when it comes to what will be photographed and when.
  • Makes sure Bride and Groom know where me and my second photographer will be at all times.
  • Gives me better control if something runs behind on the wedding day, as I know where I added 'just in case we run behind' padding.

When I first meet with an inquiring couple, I go over how much time I would ideally spend on portraits. I always request that we have a minimum of 45 minutes for Bride & Groom portraits, 30 towards bridal party portraits and 2-3 minutes per family portrait in natural light. This makes sure that we are both on the same page from day one. Below is an example of what a traditional 9 hour wedding photography timeline looks like:

  • 12:45 - 1:45 - Bride's prep. (Michelle)  Having details (gown, bridesmaid dresses, shoes, jewelry, invitation) all in one place will ensure all details are photographed. It may be difficult to keep the room(s) somewhat tidy, but if you could keep bags/personal belongings in one area of the room, it will make sure we have a clean area to work with. I also love using window light.  
  • 1:00 - 2:15 - Groom's prep. (Second Photographer) 
  • 1:45 - 2:00 - Bride gets dressed! Bridesmaids to be dressed by this time. (Michelle) This may fluctuate based on the complexity of your dress :) 
  • 2:00 - 2:15 - Bridal Portraits. (Michelle) See example in wedding here
  • 2:15 - 2:30 - Michelle, second photographer and Groom travel to church. Note: I always add extra travel time in the case that we run into traffic, parking issues or by foot roadblocks.
  • 2:30 - 2:45 - Bride travels to church
  • 2:30 - 3:00 - Prep for ceremony and document ceremony details. (Michelle & Second Photographer)
  • 3:00 - 4:00 - Ceremony (Michelle & Second Photographer)
  • 4:00 - 4:15 - Receiving line and prep for family portraits (Michelle & Second Photographer)
  • 4:15 - 4:40 - Family photographs at church. (Michelle & Second Photographer) Note: I request 2-3 minutes per family group portrait. I request that Bride & Groom communicate the timing of this to family members included in portraits. If family portraits do NOT happen immediately following ceremony, I ask that family members arrive 15 minutes prior to start of portraits.
  • 4:40 - 5:10 - Michelle, second photographer, Bride, Groom Travel to reception for photographs and prep equipment.
  • 5:10 - 5:40 - Bridal party portraits. (Michelle & Second Photographer) 
  • 5:40 - 6:30 - Bride & Groom portraits. (Michelle & Second Photographer)
  • 6:30 - 7:00 - Cocktail hour (Second Photographer)
  • 6:30 - 7:00 - Prep for reception and reception details (Michelle)
  • 7:00 - 7:45 - Entrances, Dances, Speeches (Michelle & Second Photographer)
  • 7:45 - 8:00 - Beautiful light portraits. (Michelle & Second Photographer) Sunset is at 8:17.
  • 7:45 - 9:45 - Reception (Michelle & Second Photographer) I get this question a lot, 'How long do you stay?' I typically only stay until right after cake cutting, unless there is a grand exit. I always make sure to check in with the Bride & Groom before I depart and I will never leave in the middle of a Journey song.
Wedding Day Photography Timeline by Michelle Lange.jpg

This photo was taken right before a welcome speech at a top secret wedding (OK... maybe I am exaggerating a bit). Of course the welcome speech was part of the wedding photography timeline.