While the most amazing wedding photos may look effortless, there is a great deal of time that goes into creating those images. Therefore, creating a wedding photography timeline is an absolute must! In this guide you will know much time do you really need to reserve to take your photos and what does wedding photography timeline actually looks like.
KWP (Kristen Weaver Photography) timeline planning starts around 3 months before your wedding. By this time most of the logistical details have been worked out, and they’ll put everything together to make a perfect timeline for your photo
KWP has a wedding worksheet that will be sent out to her couples several months before the wedding. It is very important that your photographer has this information as soon as possible so they can start putting together your timeline! Based off your worksheet they will send you a tentative timeline and preview of the shot list a few months before the wedding, and a finalized timeline the week before your wedding!
When it comes to your timeline – there are a couple things to keep in mind: buffer time and travel time. KWP includes buffer time in all their timelines to set realistic expectations based on their professional experience. For instance, many brides will wonder why they allocate 30 minutes just for her to get in her dress. But in reality, that 30 minutes flies by when you consider they may have to wait for the maid of honor to find her shoes, your dress has a back full of buttons, something needs adjusted unexpectedly, shoes need put on, garter, jewelry, perfume and then all items gathered up to head to the church. The veil needs placed and secured. Then someone announces they can’t find something, 4 out of 5 bridesmaids are packed up but then we need to wait for an elevator and just give ourselves time to walk through the lobby – dodging people as we go.
The timeline would look like this:
3:30pm – Bride gets dressed4:00pm – Depart for ceremony
A lot of things can happen in those 30 minutes, and we need to make sure we’re accounting for them.
When you’re planning travel time between venues – always, ALWAYS, over-estimate! If google maps says 15 minutes, but you’ve driven it in 10 before , plan for 20. We’d rather have extra time to shoot rather than underestimating time and being rushed to get you to your next location!
KWP start all of their timelines with the ceremony time and work from there.
Timeline Tip: Have your ceremony end with a full hour of daylight left in the day. For instance, if the sun sets at 7pm, your ceremony should END no later than 6pm.
However, if you’d like your ceremony to start on the hour, give yourself more time for daylight rather than less. That way, if something is delayed by 5-10 minutes (which is totally normal and can be expected), you won’t run out of time for photos.
Standard ceremony – 30 minutesReligious ceremony – 30-45 minutesCatholic Mass – 45-60 minutesFull Catholic Mass – 60-75 minutes
The First Look always seems to be a bit controversial! You should do whatever you want! That being said, if you aren’t worried about the more traditional aspect of not seeing each other until the aisle, we love first looks!
One of the things KWP loves best about the first look is the opportunity to have a private moment between the two of you where we can capture the raw emotion and love of the first time you see each other. You have the chance to embrace and talk in a way that you wouldn’t be able to during the ceremony. It’s also a great way to shake out the nerves. Our couples always talk about how they felt so much better after seeing each other – allowing them to really enjoy the ceremony and focus on the moment.
From a logistical standpoint, doing a first look allow more time for photos of you and your fiancé. Without a first look, you’re limited to cocktail hour to complete family formals, wedding party, bride and groom portraits and shooting the reception space. This means bride and groom portraits ends up being about 10-15 minutes long. By doing a first look, you can extend that time to 30-40 minutes easily – and usually, we can grab you again closer to sunset for a few more portraits before the reception begins.
If a first look just isn’t your cup of tea, keep in mind that the bride and groom portraits may feel a bit rushed or you may not be able to get to a lot of different areas of your venue.
There are also some alternatives to the first look. Some couples share a ‘first touch’ or pray together on opposite sides of a door. It’s a great opportunity for photos and to talk to each other before the ceremony.
“We like to start your day about 2 hours prior to the ceremony start time (without a first look), or 3 hours prior (if you’re planning on a first look). So for a 6pm ceremony start time, we would start at 3pm or 4pm.” ~ Kristen Weaver
3:00pm – Start in bridal suite with details 3:45pm – Bride gets dressed 4:20pm – Groom set up for first look 4:30pm – First Look and Bride/Groom portraits 5:00pm – Wedding Party Portraits 5:30pm – Everyone inside to freshen up, photograph ceremony space 6:00pm – Ceremony begins
Some of best images are of you getting ready, we love the details! Bring all of your wedding details to your getting ready location.
In the bridal suite, have these details set and ready to be captured:
Make sure to have your bridal suite cleared out of any bags and personal items so nice clean images can be captured. KWP suggest putting any additional bags in the bathroom or closet.
Following the ceremony family and group photos will be captured. Family shots usually consist of just the immediate family – grandparents, (step)parents, and siblings (and their spouses/children if applicable). Typically large extended families (aunts, uncles and cousins) are not included unless requested. Each grouping will take approximately 2 minutes to set up and shoot, so keep that in mind!
A typical reception photography timeline looks like this:
7:00pm – Doors open to guests 7:15pm – Wedding Party introductions 7:20pm – Bride and Groom introductions, first dance 7:25pm – Toasts, Welcome and Blessing (time varies based on number of toasts)7:30pm – Dinner is served
We don’t recommend having toasts in between courses, but if that’s the plan your vendors will be prepared! Toasts typically take place prior to dinner service beginning, also for photo purposes its great so there aren’t dishes in your shots.
When it comes to dinner, eat. Guests will be available to you after you finish and you can mingle as they’re finishing up. We can’t tell you how many couples never eat their wedding dinner because they start walking around right away.
Sparkler exits are still very popular, logistically sometimes it doesn’t make sense. For instance, if you’re staying in the same hotel as your reception, or you want to use the time for photos at the start of the day instead of us staying until the end. So here are some visual examples of great alternatives to a standard sparkler exit.
Confetti Cannons – Kristen’s absolute favorite because it can be used at any point in the evening to either end the night, or just get the party started! They can be used after the ceremony, during introductions, midway through the party, or even at the end of the night. With so many options, and such amazing photos – this ranks top in our books!
Lavender Toss – Following your ceremony, a lavender toss by guests is beautiful and smells amazing!
Sparkler Entrance – If you opted for a first look and want to attend cocktail hour, we can organize a sparkler entrance for all your guests to participate in, welcoming you to the party!
Mock Sparkler Exit – If your photographer/videographer team is not staying until the end of the night, we can gather your wedding party and parents and take them outside for a mock-sparkler exit. It’s a great way to keep your guests on the dance floor and close out our coverage of the evening. With less people to organize, we can do multiple run-throughs and create some great shots.
Elevator Exit – Grab a quick romantic shot of you guys in the elevator at the end of the night.
Grand Getaway – Get a vintage car, limo, or horse drawn carriage to take you away in!
Connect with Kristen Weaver Photography to capture your wedding!
Lead Photographer: Kristen
Associate Photographer: Stephanie
Event Planning: Alison with Blush by Brandee Gaar
Hair/Makeup: Jordan Scruggs, The Sublime Edge
Florist: CDC Floral
DJ: Our DJ Rocks
Bridal Salon: One & Only Bridal Boutique
Groom’s Suit: Custom Made from Gentleman’s Playbook
Groomsmen Attire: Black Tux
Videography: Ty Albers Videography
Photo Booth: Flash by KWP