A Photographer's Timeline

  • Wedding Wednesday

hard to “Think like a Photographer” when it came to planning my wedding.  Most of the time that just came naturally (and it got me in trouble with the budget committee… aka: Daddy) I wanted details and lighting and the layout to be perfect for pictures! I tried to think of the easiest place with good light for family portraits, bridal party portraits, our first look… etc, etc. It was tough. We got married at 3:30pm in October.  So I Googled the sunset time and planned our portraits around that. I had to realize that if we did a First Look at 1pm….the light was going to be harsh. So I needed a location with shade and diffused light.

Not only did I need diffused light, I also needed a LARGE area of indirect light for our bridal party pictures too! … and that included 18 people! Whew! And just ONE more thing to add to this list… it was October and the leaves (our shade) were falling off the trees and so every week before the wedding, I would drive past our portrait locations and do a “leaf check”.  Talk about being OCD about pictures! Yea. And the LAST thing I had to consider was that we did our portraits at 3 different locations and that means we had travel time!  (I do NOT advise this to most brides unless you have tons of time!)


So there was so much to consider when I sat down to hammer out our timeline. OH THE DREADED TIMELINE! Every bride hates it! It seriously determines the stress level of the wedding day. Most brides do NOT realize this when planning! So to all of you brides-to-be out there… consider yourself warned! The TIMELINE needs to be a Photographer’s Timeline! (Your photographer will love you for this!) Now I’m not saying that my timeline was perfect… it wasn’t.  But by doing a first look and allotting ample time for travel and ALL of our portraits, it worked out quite well. We entered our reception only 20 minutes after all of our guests! So here is our timeline with TONS of unnecessary information that you all really don’t need to know but I was too lazy to take it out.  This timeline was actually 4 pages long before I cut off some of the really elaborate details! (Anna, my fabulous wedding coordinator, can attest to that!) So if you’re in the process of planning your wedding day timeline and are smart enough to do a first look! (winkwink) …. Please feel  free to add this image into your designbook or drag it onto your desktop and use it as a reference!



Some things to be aware of when you’re planning your timeline:


1. Travel time to and from the ceremony and reception locations
2. Be nice to your photographer and give them a good 30-40 minutes for the first look and portraits and then another 20 mins for bridal party portraits!
3. Allow your photographer time to capture the reception details UNTOUCHED
4. Plan to have all of your family in one place for family portraits and have an idea of who you want ahead of time! I normally encourage a bride to make a list….and of COURSE I forgot to do that… Sorry Jasmine!
5. Go over your final timeline with your coordinator…. preferably more than once! …(If you need a wedding planner… I know an awesome one)
6. If you have a TON of bridesmaids… have more than one or two hairstylists.
7. Don’t wait till the morning of the wedding to steam your dress! Ah!
8. Allow extra getting ready time… there will always be something that takes longer than expected!…. ie: fake eyelashes!
9. Save your photographer time by having ALL of your details in one place when he/she arrives!

10. Relax.


I could go on and on and on about tips for the wedding day and things to avoid. I really felt like our wedding day when very smoothly…of course if it didn’t, no one would have told me! However, as we were walking inside from our “Car shots”… Jasmine and I looked at the massive amount of people that were in our backyard and we were extremely thankful that the reception details had already been shot…. Jas mentioned that I had a “Photographer’s Timeline” and I couldn’t help but smile and give myself a little pat on the back… not literally of course:).  So I hope this post can be somewhat helpful to brides, wedding planners and even other photographers! Enjoy!

xoxo, Katelyn
12 Comments Wedding Wednesday
  1. Paige Reynolds reply

    KK, I just stinkin love you!! (And those organizational traits run in the family I think! I’m not QUITE as detailed as you, but close!) And when I get married, I’m obviously having you as my photog, but I also want a 5 page itinerary taped to the fridge like you had! :) all the planning you did definitely paid off, because your wedding was spectacular! Just like you!! Love you Cousin Squared!

  2. Kelly Sauer reply

    Oh, this is wonderful! I’m passing this along to my brides this year!

    And your wedding? It was gorgeous, btw. :-P

  3. Anna Burke reply

    I LOVED your timeline! And I’m really glad we went over it more than once to add in the little things… you were a wonderful bride, and I LOVE YOU!

  4. Amanda reply

    Your post could not be more helpful. Earlier today my mother and I were saying that tonight we had to sit down and do just this…plan the wedding day timeline. Thanks for the advice!

  5. Brittany Schlamo reply

    I think I might have to post a link to this post for my future brides! I love it!

  6. ashley reply

    Love your post, really helpful as a bride to be. It did make me really jealous that you had Jasmine Star shoot yours though!!

  7. ktbwaterski reply

    I am basically going to spend hours looking for things like this in your blog. Can we also hire you as a wedding planner? ;-) Can’t wait to finally meet you! Britt will tell you how much I LOVE all of my 2nd, 3rd, 4th cousins! Excited to have more! And so excited to have you taking our pictures!!!

  8. Brooke reply

    This is sooooo funny to me… I’m a photographer planning my wedding in September and I’m all over finding out the time the sun sets, diffused areas for lighting, and more. My fiancée thinks that I’m insane, I just sent this to him so that he knows I’m not the only one! ;) I will be on leaf check as well, and also duck check – my location is in a garden surrounded by water and the ducks come and go, so we’ll see.

    Congratulations on your wedding, you are adorable and seem so super nice. Happy New Year!

  9. Well wow! | Virginia Wedding Photographer | Katelyn James Photography reply

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