The Wedding Timeline | Wedding Wisdom

The timeline.  Ok you guys, I know this isn’t the most exciting part of wedding planning, but, it’s the one thing that will make or break your photography.  You want to make sure that you are leaving your wedding with the photos that you want, so you need to plan the time to get them.  After all, once the wedding is over, all you have left are the memories and the photos (and your spouse!).

Planning the timeline for the entire wedding day can be a daunting task. I love helping our brides create the perfect timeline to ensure they have enough time for all the different events of the day.  I schedule a phone call about 2-3 weeks before your wedding day to help in creating your photography timeline. The phone call takes about 15-20 minutes and we will talk about all things wedding! I will answer any questions you may have, I will ask you a few questions as well and while we talk, I will be jotting down a bunch of notes to be sure when I create the final timeline, I do not miss anything.

And since I love helping my brides, I wanted to share  a couple of tips with you.  When planning your timeline, there are two major elements to keep in mind:

1.  Your First Look

If you ARE planning on doing a first look at your wedding, you will get a lot of your photos done before the ceremony.  This would  be bridal party portraits (separate and combined) and bride and groom portraits. After the ceremony, all you would have left are family formals and a few “just married” photos.  Plan on doing your first look two hours before your ceremony start time.

If you’re NOT doing a first look, this is where it gets tricky.  You need to have ample time after the ceremony to get the bulk of your photos done.  This includes family formals, combined bridal party, and bride and groom portraits.  Depending on how large your families are, family formals can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes.  The same goes with bridal party portraits.  If you are not doing a first look, block out at least an hour and a half after the ceremony to have all these photos taken.  If you are pressed for time, tell your family and bridal party not to go to the cocktail hour or the reception after the ceremony is over.  It will be hard to take them away from congratulating friends and will take time to get them back for family pictures. Have everyone stay after the ceremony is over so you can knock out the photos as fast as possible. This way, you’re not wasting time or sunlight which brings me to my next point…

2. The Sunset

When it comes to picking your ceremony start time, you need to know when the sun will set.  I consult SUNRISESUNSET.COM for all of our sessions and it’s AWESOME! I can look up the sunset for a specific day months in advance.  Knowing the sunset time is crucial.  If your ceremony is outdoors, you want to plan your ceremony start time about an hour and a half to two hours before the sunset time. For example, if the sun sets at 7:30pm, an ideal ceremony start time would be 5:30 or 6:00pm.  This way, you don’t have the harsh afternoon sunlight beating down on you creating unflattering shadows and you won’t be squinting at each other. Even if you have trees or some shade for your ceremony site, the light will still streak through causing uneven and “speckled” light.  This kind of light is very hard to photograph in and it’s just not flattering.

If you are NOT doing a first look, this is when you really need to pay attention to the sun set.  If you plan your ceremony start time too close to sunset, you will not have enough time to get in all the family formals, bridal party and bride and groom portraits before the sun sets.  Once the sun sets, you’ll be in the dark.  Since I am a natural light photographer, once the sun has set, we are done with portraits.  We move into the reception where I will use flash and having natural light doesn’t matter. If you want romantic portraits with soft, glowy light, make sure you have enough time after your ceremony to get them.

The last thing you want is to feel rushed on your wedding day.  Add 10 minute buffers here and there just in case.  This is one of the biggest days of your life and you can never get this day back!  Make every moment and every minute count.


You can learn more about the wedding timeline in my Bridal Guide for all Ali B Brides! Contact me for more information!

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meet the photographer Ali

A New England based photographer, chaser of that perfect light, lover of holiday eves and all things pumpkin!  My favorite color is TEAL (and anything light blue). To this day, I love me a good BSB/NSYNC reception dance party and I can not wait to meet you! 

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