The Wedding Day Timeline


words by // Amanda Collins


There is so much involved with planning a wedding. From venues, to photographers, to dress shopping and all of the exciting things that come along, it’s easy for some details to get lost in the shuffle or to not even be considered.  As a photographer, I’ve noticed one of the most commonly overlooked details when planning a wedding is the actual wedding day timeline. Let’s look at it this way: photography is typically one of the biggest investments of your wedding day. When choosing a photographer, you are hiring someone whose style fits yours and how you want your wedding day memories to be preserved. But have you ever considered what goes into getting images like the ones you’ve seen in that photographer’s portfolio? This is where the wedding day timeline really comes in to play. That’s why I make it a priority at the initial consultation, whether or not a couple decides to hire me, to discuss what a wedding day timeline might look like to get all of those images that they love. And while there are several things to consider when planning your wedding day, here are three “L’s” to keep in mind when deciding how to utilize your photography coverage:


The Wedding Day Timeline | AC Photography

Light is a major component of photography. If you love a light and airy style with lots of natural light, you need to make sure you have enough of it during your portrait time. Planning an outdoor wedding in July? You may want to consider planning the ceremony for a little later in the afternoon rather than high noon when the light is at its peak, which can cause harsh lighting and shadows. Are you planning a wedding in late November after the time change, when it starts to get dark early? Make sure you are planning your ceremony to be early enough so that there is enough light for your portraits between the ceremony and reception. This problem may be solved when considering the next “L”.


The Wedding Day Timeline | AC Photography

Do you want to do a “first-look” with your groom, or do you want to keep it traditional and not see each other until the ceremony? There is no right or wrong way, and both have their benefits. But when planning the timeline, whether or not you are doing a first look may affect how many hours of photography coverage you may need. Having a first look allows a majority of the portraits to be done prior to the ceremony; therefore, requiring less time between the ceremony and the reception. This is a good option when everything is taking place at the same location, as your guests will not have to wait a long time between the ceremony and the start of the reception. It may also be beneficial in the case of a Friday wedding when typically, you need to have a later ceremony in order for guests to come after work. There is also absolutely nothing wrong with keeping it traditional and not seeing each other until the ceremony. I recommend the 30-30-30 rule: thirty minutes for wedding party portraits, thirty for family formals, and thirty for bride and groom portraits. It doesn’t matter where these land in the timeline, just make sure you have that amount of time dedicated for those sets of images. If you are not seeing each other prior to the ceremony, you more than likely will need to do all of those images after, which means having at least 90 minutes (not including travel time) between the ceremony and introduction into the reception.


Travel time can eat into the photography coverage that you are paying for. If everything is held at the same venue, obviously you will not need extra time to travel from one location to the next. However, hosting your ceremony and reception at separate locations will require some travel time. This also needs to be considered with our last discussion of whether or not you are doing a first look. Just as before, if you are doing a first look, then you only need to consider the amount of time needed to travel from the ceremony to the reception. But if you are going the traditional route, just consider that you will also need to add in travel time along with the 30-30-30 rule. This also applies for travel time between your getting ready locations and venues as well as ceremony to portrait location if that is different from the reception location (i.e. hotel • ceremony • art museum for portraits • reception location)

The Wedding Day Timeline | AC Photography

Let’s face it, planning your wedding day is exciting, but also very overwhelming. Luckily, hiring experienced wedding professionals will help alleviate the stress of this portion of planning. For example, not only do I discuss different timeline options with potential clients at their consultations, but I also take the time to go more in-depth with this by sending out a questionnaire a few months before the wedding day. From there, I form a detailed photography itinerary that allows us to get all of the images you are wanting in order to tell your story perfectly. Establishing a timeline early allows you to successfully execute a stress-free wedding day.

Amanda Collins | AC Photography Toledo, Ohio

Amanda is the lead photographer behind AC Photography. Based in Northwest Ohio, Amanda strives to capture images that are joyful, genuine, and romantic. With a light and airy style and a photojournalistic mindset, Amanda’s priority is to capture the story of your wedding day and preserve those memories for generations to come.