Every wedding schedule is different and it should be! There is no one schedule that works for everyone and you should customize the day to your desires and wishes. In regards to photography, some people want all-day coverage while others just want a few hours. Some couples want photography and videography whereas others think one of those services is good enough. There is no right or wrong, just what you prefer and what works within your budget.
When starting to plan your wedding schedule, I recommend anchoring the wedding day timeline on the ceremony. This is usually the first time that is set and the rest is built off of that. If the ceremony timing is not set yet, start with a different time point such as when the catering service will start.
The second big question to decide is if you want to do the formal couple, wedding party, and family photos before or after the ceremony, or to do a mix? There are pros and cons to each option.
Having the couple, wedding party, and family photos before the ceremony usually mean that people are looking their best, paying the most attention, and you can move right into the reception after the ceremony.
This does have the drawbacks of the couple seeing each other before the ceremony and making sure people get there early. You might also be in a little bit of a time crunch to get the photos completed before your guests start arriving.
Having the formal photos after the ceremony ensures that everyone is there (hopefully) and allows the couple's “first look” as the bride comes down the aisle.
However, I have found that it is harder to keep people’s attention after the ceremony and sometimes have had people leave for the reception before all the photos were complete. This option also requires a bigger break between ceremony and reception, meaning your guests are waiting for you to take photos to start the reception.
Do not plan on starting post-ceremony photos immediately after the ceremony. You will need time to greet your guests, usually in a receiving line.
Once you have locked in the timing of the ceremony and made the decision on if you are doing photos before or after the ceremony, you can start working out from there to generate your schedule. For the formal photos, estimate 2 minutes per photo. This time includes getting everyone together, positioning them, taking the photos, and other transition time. Take the estimated number of formal photos, multiply that number by 2 and you will get an estimate of the amount of time you need pre or post-ceremony for formal pictures.
Example: 30 estimate formal photos = 1 hour of photography time
For the other milestones of the day, it depends on what you want to be captured. I will go into more detail around the timing of detail shots, getting ready, and reception in their specific blogs.
Every time I meet with a couple I let them know that they can always add hours to their package if they decide they want more coverage. This prevents couples from having to over-commit to the amount of time (and money) in their photography and videography coverage until they are closer to the wedding and have more information to make an informed decision.
Sample Photography Timeline:
- Details | 1:30 - 2:00pm
- Getting Ready | 2:00 - 2:45pm
- Pre Ceremony | 2:45 - 3:45pm
- Ceremony | 4:00 - 4:30pm
- Post Ceremony | 5:00 - 6:30pm
- Reception | 7:00 - 9:30pm