Tips for Brides Tuesday: Wedding Photography Timeline

Planning Your Wedding Photography - Gilbert Wedding Photographers

A big question for couples when planning the details of their wedding day is when they should do their wedding photography. Your first thought, well, obviously during the wedding, but there is much more to it than that.

The wedding photography schedule, though with some generalities, is unique to each individual couple and wedding. I sit down with my couples a few weeks before the wedding to hash out the specific wedding photography timeline details. This ensures that I will be able to capture the most important parts of the wedding for the couple and try to utilize the best light for the photos that are most important to them.

Setting Up The Day

Let’s say, for example, the couple is so excited to have planned beautiful photos of the sun setting behind the mountains during their ceremony.  Granted, the ceremony photos will be taken during the ceremony, but when will the ceremony be? Do you want sunset pictures for the ceremony itself? If so, will you be doing first look bride and groom photos? Otherwise the light will be gone for couple’s pictures after the wedding, unless of course you don’t mind flash (though I am not a big fan personally). How much time is reserved at the venue? Will they give you ample time to plan getting ready and couples/bridal party/family photos before the wedding? Do you not want to see each other until the actual ceremony? Which pictures are most important to you? All these things are questions to consider when planning the day.


Planning Your Wedding Photography - Gilbert Wedding Photographers Planning Your Wedding Photography - Gilbert Wedding Photographers

General Organization

General photograph sections most weddings incorporate are the following: 

Bride getting ready
Groom getting ready
Bridal portraits
Bride + Groom portraits
Bride with bridesmaids
Groom with groomsmen
Entire bridal party with couple
Couple and their families

These general sections are the ones I adjust around to meet the needs of each couple. Some couples feel the bride + groom portraits are the most important, and plan those for a first look with the best light and low stress. They use that time to spend a romantic few minutes with each other before the craziness of the day. Some couples really put importance on the family photos – this was me. My family lives all around the world and was going to be all in one place for my wedding. Great family photos were a must. Some couples really value their friendships and put a lot of importance on photos with their bridal party. For some couples, the ceremony is the most important thing, and they want the best setting and light possible. Every couple has different needs, and working around those makes for a smooth day of wedding photography.

Depending on what photos you value most, I’ll make recommendations on timing, organization, and the photography schedule for the day. That is why it is so important to communicate with your photographer so they can plan the very best photos for you and your needs.

Planning Your Wedding Photography - Gilbert Wedding Photographers

The “First Look”

 A popular trend through recent weddings has been the introduction of the “first look,” which is an intimate, private moment where the groom sees the bride for the first time before the ceremony without all the onlookers. I almost always encourage couples to do a first look and get their pictures done before the ceremony. Not only does this give us the best setting and light, for in my opinion, are the most important photos of the day, but it is so much less stressful for the bride and groom to be all ready, take their photos when everything is perfect, and then go on with the rest of their day without having to worry about photos. It is also easier to plan dinner and the reception. By taking photos before the ceremony, you can go almost straight into your reception, without having to spend money on a costly cocktail hour while guests are waiting around. It keeps the day flowing, and makes for a more enjoyable experience for everyone. 

Ideal Shooting Times

Below would be my ideal amount of time to shoot each section of the wedding day:

Bride getting ready (30-45 min)

Groom getting ready and groomsmen portraits (30 min)

Bridal portraits and bridesmaids (30 min)

Bride and groom first look and portraits (30 min)

Bridal party and bride + groom (15 min)

Ceremony (30-45 min)

Family portraits (10-15 min)

Reception (2-3 hrs)

Of course there should also be an extra half hour in there to “pad” everything – weddings always seem to run  just a tad late   🙂

This is pretty much how I planned my own wedding, except I even put the family portraits before the ceremony, so we practically walked from the alter straight to our table. I think our hungry guests appreciated that. I know my hungry belly did.

Planning Your Wedding Photography - Gilbert Wedding Photographers Planning Your Wedding Photography - Gilbert Wedding Photographers

However, no matter what your schedule, you can get beautiful photos. I’ve had weddings in the middle of the day, when the sun’s already set, during a thunderstorm, you name it. But that’s what makes it all the more fun and challenging, to have to work within set parameters and get the best pictures possible. So no matter what your wedding schedule is, we can work with it. But do keep in mind what photos are most important for you, and if possible, try to plan the best setting and light for those photos. Ask  your photographer for help if you are not sure what that should look like for your wedding day. That is just one more way to guarantee you will get the absolute beautiful wedding photography you deserve.


How did you plan your wedding photography to get the best photos for you? I’d love to hear below…


As always, happy planning from Jenna Bishop Photography!

{Stop by the first Tuesday of the month for new wedding photography tips!}


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