Getting Married with Claire: Timeline

Oct 11, 2019

Our goal for every wedding is that you, as our client, are able to be present and stress-free on your wedding day. I know a lot of photographers prefer the approach of “fly on the wall”, or ” you won’t even know we’re there.” That’s not our style. You’ll know we’re there. You’ll know we’re there because we are actively working before and after your wedding to make sure you get the most out of it.

The most asked question I get from our couples, is what the timeline of their day should look like. Now, I don’t have the exact magical combination of time for every couple. Each wedding is different. However, I have been in this biz for almost a decade now and have photographed hundreds of weddings. So I do feel like I have a good handle on the chunks of time that need to be carved out so the day flows smoothly, in regards to photos. Some of our couples choose to work with a coordinator, and if that’s the case, we happily work along side them to make sure the whole day goes smoothly.

Question: Why is it important to think through photo timeline early in your planning process? Answer: To avoid stress. My goal in talking through a timeline with clients is to give them realistic expectations of the time it takes to organize/ travel and take pictures. That way they don’t have to look at their phone or watch and hopefully have zero stress on their incredible day.

Here is the breakdown I tend to roll with most weddings in regards to photos. This is not a ALL DAY wedding timeline- this is just a look at what coverage tends to look like from the photo perspective.

Getting Ready Pictures: 1 hour : 1 1/2 hours

This is where I get detail shots of the dress, shoes, invitation, ties, cuff links, jewelry, flowers or anything else you’ve taken the time to personalize for your big day. I also focus on the interactions you have with your wedding party and the parental figures you have around you. This is where I see couples waste a lot of coverage time. I don’t need long to get the shots I need as you’re completing your finishing touches. There is no reason to have me there from the very beginning of your hair and makeup. I promise, you will only kinda like the images of you before you have makeup on, or your pants, in some cases.

Couples’ Portraits: 1 hour

This is the most important time of the day, so I push for a large chunk of time. I have strong feelings about this time of day and the bubble I think it should have, but that will be a post for a different day. Today let’s just say, we won’t shoot for the whole time, but you’ll be happy you have a full hour, just you and your beloved.

Wedding Party Pictures: 45 minutes

This is another time of day I think often gets too much time. Usually, my second and I (usually Barrett) divide and conquer during this time. We will run through an individual shot with you and your people and then do a few big group shots. In many cases, the most time is eaten up in transit to shooting locations, not in the actual taking of the pictures. We can usually knock things out in 30 minutes, but sometimes those larger parties demand more time and so does wrangling that amount of people.

Family Pictures: 30 minutes

This will almost always be the most hectic part of the day. Something about organizing a group of people with a bunch of personalities. Never fear, we know how to do it and we know how important these images are. Regardless of any brilliantly artistic photograph I get, I know that these family images are going on the holiday card. Good news, we can knock it out pretty fast. Usually 20 minutes, but I like saying 30 because usually we do them right after the ceremony and it takes at least 10 minutes for the guests to clear out.

Sunset Pictures: 10 minutes

Another post for another day, but if you are drawn to our work, you probably like how we utilize that ‘golden hour’ light, when we have it. The myth is that you have to plan your entire wedding around getting this light for the entirety of your portraits. False. It takes us about 10 minutes to grab these shots and I am more than happy to pull you from whatever you’re doing to snag it really fast. I don’t want you to stress or worry about it. If we get the light, we will work it in.

Now that we’ve broken that down, let’s do a mock timeline shall we? I’ll do two. One with a first look and one without. (I will do another post on first look vs no first look another day.) For now we can agree that each option has its benefits, so I’ll do two mock ups!

Here are two things to keep in mind before making a timeline.

  1. Sunset. When is it going to be? This matters a bit less if you’re doing a first look. But if you are NOT doing a first look, be mindful of when that sun is gone, or you will find yourself doing all your portraits in the dark.
  2. Keep a realistic buffer between the end of photos and your ceremony time. Be mindful that your older guests will start arriving at the ceremony 45 minutes before it begins, like clockwork. For this reason, I like to have all photos completely wrapped an hour before the ceremony so you can refresh and recharge, and stay hidden before walking down the aisle in front of all your guests.

Timeline 1: With a First Look. (ceremony time is completely subjective based on the time of year and what is available for your venue church etc, just for giggles, I’m gonna pick 6:30.)

2:00 Photographers arrive for getting ready photos

3:15 First Look

4:15 Wedding Party Photos

5:00 Family Photos (This can also be done after the ceremony.)

5:30 Rest/Recharge

6:30 Ceremony

7:00 End of Ceremony. You’re off to go party and we’re documenting candidly from here on out.

Timeline 2 without first look: I’ve bumped the ceremony time up an hour since otherwise no matter what time of year, there would be darkness before the end of photos.

3:00 Photographers arrive for getting ready photos.

4:30 Rest/recharge for ceremony

5:30 Ceremony

6:00 End of ceremony (let’s just say.)

6:15 Family pictures start

6:45 Wedding Party pictures

7:30 Couple’s Portraits

8:30 All done photos and time for partying and candid documentation.

For the record, there are DEFINITELY exceptions to these rules. Weddings without a wedding party or weddings that start earlier in the day with a large gap between the ceremony and the reception, for example. However, for the most part, these tend to work beautifully!

Hopefully this helps a bit as you are looking toward planning your glorious celebration with us! XO

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