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Wedding Photography Checklist and Timeline

Being a Fine Art Wedding Photographer is not easy, but I know that being a bride can be even harder! So, I wrote this blog post to give you valuable information for the perfect wedding photography checklist and timeline. This amazing insight will assist you in making sure your wedding day goes without a hitch! Keep in mind though, this post is to assist you with your Photography timeline. Your wedding planner will create the timeline for the whole wedding. There are several elements that go into planning a perfect wedding photography checklist and timeline, and the more prepared we are, the fewer worries you will have on the day of the wedding! Here are some very usual questions my clients normally ask me:

1. To have, or not to have a first look?

I HIGHLY recommend a first look and I would say 80% of my couples choose to have a first look because this gives them a safety net. Having a first look and getting all the most important photos of the day done before the ceremony will allow you to enjoy your day without stress or worry. However, we have
successfully documented weddings with, or without a first look. Though, my experience has indicated to me that if a couple selects to do a first look, we can generally fit in an extra 45minutes just for bride & groom portraits. This is valuable time! In the end, it is your wedding day, and you will choose best how you and your fiancé plan to execute it. I encourage you to read this blog post on “How A First Look Can Save Your Wedding Day.”

2. If we hire a second shooter, will they cover? Who will be with the bride and who will be with the groom?

Typically, I will be the primary photographer in charge of the bride getting ready, details, & romantic portraits. The second shooter typically is in charge of family formals, groom getting ready shots, and provide a 2nd angle for the coverage.

3. How do we handle family formals?

Family formals should be a quick and painless part of the day and I suggest keeping it under 15 minutes. That is frequently doable if everyone collaborates and stays nearby right after the ceremony. Please communicate this to your planner, DJ or officiant. They must make an announcement immediately after the ceremony so the bridal party and immediate family can be ready for photos. Please remember to send us a list of the family portrait groupings you wish to have. This will really help to move the groupings along and cut the time down to a minimum. Also, please make sure to have a contact person nearby at this time, so this person can call out people by name or relationships.

4. How and when will reception area be documented?

The short answer is during cocktail hour. Your wedding venue with all the decoration, flower arrangements, place settings, are probably one of the most costly elements on your wedding budget. And I know you have assigned a large portion of your wedding budget on making the reception/ceremony area as perfect as you can. Normally, my team will need roughly 15-20 minutes in order to shoot all the reception venue details. This will include photographing center pieces, cake, wedding favors, flowers, dessert table, overall area, etc. We will need the space entirely sectioned off from guests so we can get a ‘clean’ shot of the venue. We know you will appreciate this, because otherwise how would you ever know what the reception area actually looked like. We recommend that you work with your planner to have all the decorations set-up and ready to be photographed before the start of cocktail hour.

5. At what time does the photographers/videographers eat dinner or take a break?

The most preferable period for the crew to eat dinner is during the reception when the bride & groom are eating or with the first table called up. This is not because we like to eat before everybody else I promise! Please don’t be mad at us if we rush to the buffet line with the first table. This is because when you guys are done eating, and are walking around visiting tables, mingling with other guests, receiving or giving toasts, I want to make sure my whole team is available. So the team naturally eats while you are eating and we are done when you guys are finished as well. This will help to achieve a fuller coverage of your wedding reception.

6. What if we decide to add additional hours of coverage on the day of the wedding?

This is very common and you need not worry, I have encountered this many times. All you need to do is inform your wedding planner and they can communicate it back to us. But please, try to give us as much notice as possible.

Bellow you will find example timelines that I think is the perfect wedding photography checklist and timeline. One is with first look and another is without a first look. Now, don’t worry if this timeline is different from your timeline. These hours are an approximation and are meant as a guide, but it can give you a good idea of how much time you should allocate to each part of the wedding, as well as a usual order of events.

7. Sample Timelines

Sample 1: Photography/Videography Timeline for 8 hours of coverage with first look

1:00 – 2:00    Getting ready and detail shots
2:00 – 4:30    First look, bridal party, Immediate family member photos
5:00 – 5:30    Wedding Ceremony
5:30 – 5:50    Family Formals
5:50– 6:20     Additional bride/groom and bridal party photos
6:20 – 6:40    Cocktail hour/Reception details
6:40 –              Bridal party grand entrance, and party time!

Sample 2: Photography/Videography Timeline for 8 hours of coverage WITHOUT a first look

1:00 – 2:00   Getting ready and detail shots
2:00 – 4:30   Separate bride and groom photos, and separate bridal party photos
5:00 – 5:30   Wedding Ceremony
5:30 – 5:50   Family Formals
5:50– 6:20    Bridal party portraits
6:20 – 6:50   Bride & groom portraits.
7:00 –            Bridal party grand entrance, and party time!

Sample 3: Photography/Videography Timeline for 8 hours of coverage with an EARLY ceremony

10:30 – 11:30   Getting ready/detail shots
11:45 – 1:00     Separate bride and groom photos, and separate bridal party photos
1:00 – 1:30      Ceremony area detail shots
2:00 – 3:00     Wedding Ceremony
3:30 – 4:00      Family Formals
4:00– 4:30       Bridal party portraits
4:30 – 5:15      Bride & groom portraits.
5:30 – 6:30      Coverage of cocktail hour/Reception details
6:40 –               Bridal party grand entrance, and party time!

Thanks for reading Wedding Photography Checklist and Timeline! Check out some of my wedding photos at The Market At Grelen Wedding | Virginia Wedding PhotosDelta Plantation Wedding PhotosBelmond Maroma Cancun Wedding among others.  And some engagement sessions I’ve had at  Wormsloe Engagement Photos and Savannah Engagement Photo Session | Forsyth Park to name a couple. Also, go to our General Wedding FAQ and our Engagement Session FAQ posts for more information about how to prepare for your photo sessions. We have other posts that can help you in your wedding preparations in our Journal Page. Don’t forget to check out my homepage for my newest wedding photography work.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have, and follow us on social media to stay updated with the latest photo shoots and blogs.

Wedding Photography Checklist and Timeline
Article Name
Wedding Photography Checklist and Timeline
I wrote this blog post to give you valuable information for the perfect wedding photography checklist and timeline.
Vitor Lindo Photo + Video