March 10, 2020

The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Wedding Photography Schedule

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The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Wedding Photography Schedule

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming. You don’t need to be a wedding planner to understand that all weddings benefit from even a basic schedule. Your venue can of course help here but usually only for the times during your reception and ceremony. The best way to accurately schedule your entire day is to work closely with your photographer to develop your unique Wedding Day Photography Schedule.

After all, many photographers spend the entire day with you from the very beginning to well into the evening. Any good photographer will be eager to assist with your schedule, helping you accurately plan your day while suggesting the length of the photography coverage you may require.

Since every wedding day is unique and different, the below is our Ever After Photographers step by step guide which we use to help our couples create an accurate schedule for their big day. We hope you find it useful.

wedding photography schedule ceremony

1. The Milestones.

After booking your ceremony and reception venues, your first step is to of course fill in the mandatory milestone times. These usually include the Ceremony Time, Reception Start Time, Dinner Served at Time and the time that any dancing starts.

2. Getting Ready Sessions?

Would you like to have a Getting Ready session? If so, where will it take place?

We always recommend these sessions as they allow both us and our couples to get accustomed to each other and the way we both work before the actual ceremony, the portrait and the reception sessions. Most of our getting ready shots are candids. These photos, along with some images of the details, help tell an entire wedding day story from start to finish, especially when presented in a wedding album. Getting ready sessions last for about 1.5 to 2 hours for the bride and about 1 to 1.5 hours for the Groom.

A quick note to the guys. A getting ready session is just that. Being fully ready for the wedding before the photographer shows for this session reduces the organic nature that these sessions can provide. We ask our grooms to be about 2/3 ready. Sure, your pants and shirt should be on please. However please put on the tie, jacket, shoes and accessories when we arrive.

wedding photography schedule getting ready

3. First Look?

Are you planning on a First Look session just before the ceremony? These sessions, which usually take place at the ceremony venue, are short and usually last only 20-30 minutes but of course they need to be built into your schedule. We wrote a little bit more about the first look here: The first Look, or not to first look? 

4. Don’t Forget About the Travel Time.

Once you know the location and timing of your Getting Ready and/or First Look sessions, don’t forget to account for the travel time from the locations to the ceremony venue. In addition, we always pad this time by about 50% to give everyone extra time in case of bad traffic and to provide the piece of mind which a little wiggle room can bring.

5. After the Ceremony.

Next, working with the photographer you will need to decide where and when you will have your Bridal Party and Bride and Groom sessions. These sessions can take place either right at the ceremony venue, at a location on the way to the reception, or right at or near the reception venue itself. Very occasionally, when time is very tight between the Ceremony and the Reception these sessions can happen before the ceremony.

Of course travel times will once again need to be carefully considered. How long do the above sessions last? Although there is no one hard fast rule we suggest 20- 45 minutes for the Bridal party session, depending on overall size of the party and the specific session location. We also suggest about 30-45 minutes for the Bride and Groom session. Again, leaving enough time is key.

6. Family Photo Session.

Your final task before enjoying the reception is surviving the family portraits. This staged session, which usually takes place at or near the reception venue is often a test in patience and extreme search skills as you aim to located the lost uncle or missing grandparents.

Over the years we found a solid solution which simplifies and expedites this important point in your wedding day. First we ask our couples to provide a detailed shoot list, which indicates the number of the family groups and lists specific people in each requested family portrait. Than we ask our couples to choose one Family Portrait Wrangler who’s responsibility during the family shoot is to locate the needed people on the list.

How long does such a family session last depends of course on the number of groups and the size of each group. On average we suggest 3-4 minutes per each group in order to move things quickly and provide enough time for quality images.

wedding photography schedule family photos

7. Let’s Have Some Fun!

We love photographing the dancing portion of the reception. This celebration of your love and your big day provides great opportunities to capture amazing candid images. These photos are often full of organic joy, laughter and an authenticity which is difficult to match during any other stage of your wedding day.

How long you ask us to photograph after the start of the dancing is of course up to you. Our suggestion is at least 1 hour and no longer than 2 hours. This is because it takes us at least an hour to truly integrate into the celebration while photographing using multiple creative methods to capture the energy and movement in the candid images. Staying longer than 2 hours usually provides little additional photography benefits and can sometime interfere with the guests who are no longer interested and in no shape to have their current “fun” captured on camera.

wedding photography schedule reception

No wedding is ever the same. Ultimately you are in charge of your Big Day. With the above step by step guide, creating your unique detailed wedding Photography Schedule can be an easy task which will help with the planning of your entire day.

Remember that flexibility and building in extra time inside your day are key to avoid a schedule which is frustrating for all and simply not realistic.

Of course, if you have any questions on the above, or if you would like us to capture your big day and help you with your Wedding Photography scheduling, please contact us.

Lunch Time Micro Wedding Photography Schedule:

Morning Preparation

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Bride, groom, and wedding party get ready. This includes hair, makeup, and dressing. Consider having a light breakfast with your bridal party to start the day off right.
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM: First look and couple photos. Opting for a first look before the ceremony can save time later in the day and capture a beautifully private moment between the bride and groom.


11:30 AM – 12:00 PM: Wedding ceremony. Keeping the ceremony around midday allows for beautiful natural light for your photographs even when planning a wedding on a day with a short amount of daylight.

Post-Ceremony and Reception

12:00 PM – 12:30 PM: Post-ceremony photos. This includes family portraits and additional couple photos if needed.
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Cocktail hours. This is a great time for guests to mingle and for you to have a few candid moments captured.
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM: Lunch is served. Whether you choose a sit-down meal, buffet, or family-style serving, ensure the menu reflects the daytime setting with lighter fare.
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM: Speeches and toasts. While guests are still seated and enjoying their meals, it’s a good time for speeches from the bridal party, family, or the couple themselves.
2:30PM– Cake cutting and dessert. Offering a sweet conclusion to the meal can also serve as a signal to guests that the formal part of the celebration is winding down.
2:45PM Final thank you speech from the couple
3:00 PM: First dance followed by open dance floor. Starting the dance portion earlier in the day ensures that even guests who might not stay into the evening can enjoy this part of the celebration.
4:30PM-5:00 PM: Official end of the wedding reception. Guests can begin to depart at their leisure.


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