Planning Your Wedding Day Photography Timeline

planning wedding photography timeline
Here's a sample of our wedding photography timeline we suggest to all our Ardensea brides and grooms!

One of the potentially stressful parts of planning your wedding is knowing just how much time will actually be taken to get all your must-have photos. A great relationship with your wedding photographer will help make this process easy and stress free. Let’s go over expectations on how long the traditions of your day really take!

Let’s break it down:

Getting Ready1 Hour
Capturing the Details and Decor1 Hour
The First Look45 Minutes
Bride and Groom Formal Portraits30 Minutes
Portraits with Family Members and Your Bridal Party45 Minutes
Bridal Portraits30 Minutes

 1. Getting Ready Portraits & Detail Shots

Ideal time frame: 1 to 2 hours

Typically during this time, we stage some photos of the wedding dress, shoes, wedding bands, flowers, stationery, basically EVERYTHING we can get my hands on!  I ask that the rings be left with someone accessible and responsible so we can take them for about 15 minutes to photograph with the rest of the items.  Then we return the rings to typically the best man (or whoever you designate).

Here is a list of items you will want to have put aside:
  • Bouquet
  • Shoes
  • Dress & Veil (don’t forget to replace the wire/plastic hanger with a nice, wooden or cloth one!)
  • Bridal jewelry (whatever you are wearing that day)
  • The perfume you are wearing
  • A set of your wedding invitations/save the dates/stationery
  • Any extra flowers that may be laying around… the more the merrier!

Bridal Party Portraits & Groom Getting Ready Portraits

If time permits, we always try to get at least a few photos of the bride getting in her dress. We will try to utilize natural light through a window light or in an open area. It’s also a great time to stage a champagne toast with the bridesmaids or plan a confetti pop or fun robe shot!

The Groom

If your wedding package doesn’t include a second associate photographer, I also like to try to get some photos of the groom doing things like putting on the tie, cuff-links, and maybe trying to get his jacket on a hanger.

The Details

We will also try to take pictures of the cake and reception decor, once it arrives. Sometimes this happens at the beginning of the day, but more common than not, this gets squeezed in after the ceremony while everyone enjoys cocktail hour.

2. Ceremony And/Or Reception Setup Photos

Ideal time frame: 30 minutes

About the last 30 minutes before the ceremony, we try to take miscellaneous photos of guests waiting for the arrival of the wedding party, since the focus is mostly on the couple for the rest of the day. This gives our bride and groom a few moments to relax after their first look and get excited about the next big part of the day!

3. The First Look

Ideal time frame: 45 minutes

Not every couple wants to break tradition to do first a first look session, but it’s such a great way to fit amazing photos and get authentic, emotional photos without the pressure of being on display in front of friends and family. A quick couples session can be squeezed in as well as a few fun group shots of the bridal party without family & friends present.   We highly recommend doing one if you really want to make photos a priority on your wedding day! This will truly open up your day and most of our couples end up being able to enjoy a large portion of their cocktail hour as well.

4.  Bride and Groom Formal Photos (preferably at sunset)

Ideal time frame: 30-45 minutes

This is probably the most important part of the whole day for me as your wedding photographer.  These will likely be the photos that you hang on your walls, so I will be very persuasive to get you two to relax, laugh, smile, kiss, and just enjoy the few moments we will have together. ESPECIALLY if we haven’t had time for a First Look earlier in the day. For this list, these are JUST examples – my bride and groom posing is a more authentic and candid experience than the rest of the day and I will be walking you through every step of the way!

  • Bride and Groom traditional portraits
  • Bride and Groom romantic/intimate portraits
  • The veil over bride and groom while kiss (if you have a veil)
  • Close up of hands with rings
  • Candid bride & groom portraits
  • Bride and Groom kissing (get ready to be smooching a lot all day )
  • Bride alone
  • Bride’s details – bouquet shot, close up of the bride’s makeup and veil
  • Groom alone

5. Family Formals & Bridal Party

Ideal time frame: 45 minutes to 1 hour

This is the one part of the day that can feel stressful because of time restrictions and guests who want to move on to the reception.  If you are having a cocktail hour, this is perfect because it gives us some time to knock out the pictures as quickly and efficient as possible! Here’s an EXAMPLE of our go-to shot list:

  • Full bridal party (in a line) girls on 1 side, guys on other side + CLOSE family members
  • Bride and Groom and both sides of the close family (moms, dads, grandmas, etc)
  • Bride with Groom and Bride’s parents
  • Bride with Bride’s Parents
  • Groom with Bride and Groom’s parents
  • Groom with Groom’s Parents

**** close family dismissed****

  •  The full bridal party (in a line) with guys on 1 side, girls on the other side
  • Silly face portrait full bridal party (maybe something like bride and groom kiss while bridal party cheers, best selfie faces, etc
  • Bride and bridesmaids
  • Bride and maid of honor
  • Groom and groomsman
  • Groom and best man
  • If Time Permits – we will try to knock out individual portraits of each bridesmaid and groomsman

****bridal party dismissed****

6. Bridal Portraits

Ideal time frame: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Some brides like to fit in a classic bridal portrait session on their wedding day and we absolutely LOVE doing this for our ladies. The trick with making this work on your wedding day is making sure you have your hair and makeup done hours before the ceremony time. But it’s so worth it to show off all the little details of your dress, accessories, fresh makeup and pristine hair!

The biggest thing we want our couples to take away from this is that there are so many moving parts on the big day. Having a plan in place will help us be ready for everything and if something happens to change, we will work with the time we have! Nothing is set in stone, aside from the fact that I want you to have an amazing wedding day!

florida wedding photographer ardensea

Hello, from the Ardensea Blog! I'm Jackie Watson, owner and luxury fine-art wedding photographer based in beautiful South Florida. I hope you find this space a great resource to find all the resources you need to plan the perfect wedding, view my work, and see if we're the perfect fit for your own special day.

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