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Successful Wedding Photography = Perfect Timing + Preparation


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Learn the secrets to perfect wedding photography.

It is no secret – Weddings are crazy!  But they are a good crazy- full of moments that truly capture the change in generations as mothers watch their daughters marry, to couples starting new families, and friends celebrating with one another.  Combining all of these emotions with a group of people, location changes, dinner schedules and unpredictable weather can make for a logistical nightmare. It is your job as a professional to help guide your bride and groom plan a perfect wedding day. Not only will it allow you to effectively plan for your staff and necessary equipment but it will also alter the type of images you can capture. Imagine the moments you can capture from a bride who is able to enjoy her carefully planned wedding day versus the bride who is rushing to try to keep up with her wedding day.

As the photographer, much of our job becomes an issue of timing. We base our package prices around the amount of time that it takes to effectively capture a wedding day. Here are 5 tips to help walk your couples through their wedding day logistics so they are planned and prepared, as well as helping you to get some amazing images by creating an adequate schedule!


1. Plan everything in at least 15 minute increments.

  • A typical wedding takes about 8 hours and those moments pass by super quickly. Break down your events in a 15-minute time block so that you know what you need to cover within that amount of time. Now you may need more or less time depending on your shooting style, but working within a time frame will help ensure that you can cover things in a successful manner. When you are creating your shot list make sure you can cover all that you need for that day by breaking it up within the timing you feel comfortable with.


2. Set yourself up for success.

  • A lot of what we need to cover relies on the help of other vendors. It may be helpful to talk to these vendors to correlate the timing of events. For example, you might not want to start the bridal shots before her flowers arrive.  Ask questions of the bride and vendors to effectively plan when you should photograph certain events and avoid rushing around trying to get details like the cake or table decorations. Set a time to shoot events when you know all the important details will be in place. It’s especially important to communicate with make up and hair vendors so that the bride can be ready on time as well.
  • When at all possible try to schedule a first look for the bride and groom. From my experience this drastically changes the type of emotions that are created on a wedding day. Not only does it allow the bride and groom a time to calm their nerves before the ceremony but helps avoid the inevitable rush post ceremony that affects the couple. Plus, after the ceremony its time to party! Taking an hour afterwards to take photographs puts you between the bridal party and their time to hit the dance floor!


3. Plan for transition.

  • When you are working with large groups of people make sure you plan for the time it may take to move them to a different location. For example, getting a bridal party of 12 from the chapel, to the limo and to the reception hall is going to take some time. Plan for that transition within your schedule. A good safeguard is to add 10 extra minutes for car loading to allow for the bridesmaid who forgot her flowers or the groomsmen who needs a bathroom break. The few extra minutes will allow the time to take care of those things without throwing off the schedule. One of the biggest factors is post the ceremony. It’s important for you to plan the transition of the bridal party away from the ceremony. A lot of time can be lost if they are in the path of the guests exiting the ceremony. When the guests see the happy couple, they will want to congratulate them. Those are special moments  but let that happen at the reception when you are not on a tight schedule for coverage.


4. Plan for light.

  • As a photographer it is your job to capture light and create light when you need it to ensure that every image is exposed properly. Keep in mind the setting of the sun so that you can take advantage of that natural beauty. Nothing can replace the beauty of twilight and a couple that is in love. If possible, arrange some time in the reception to steal them for a few moments to create beautiful images in perfect light.


5. Be prepared to throw the schedule out the window.

  • All this planning makes for a confident couple and a confident photographer. Sometimes there are situations that may cause the day to go into complete chaos. If you have a schedule planned, you will know what fluff you can cut out or arrange within the drop of the hat. Having a complete schedule will prepare you for whatever comes your way!
  • Lastly, make sure your wedding schedule fits you and your shooting style so that you can successfully prepares your couples for a great wedding day! Remember , you set the tone for their wedding day so start the day off right with preparation and planning so you can have amazing images to show your clients.


Here is a sample photography schedule for a wedding:

samanthaandgeorgeschedule-1web Successful Wedding Photography = Perfect Timing + Preparation Business Tips Photography Tips

samanthaandgeorgeschedule-2web Successful Wedding Photography = Perfect Timing + Preparation Business Tips Photography Tips


This guest article was written by Kimberly of KimBe Photography/Kimberly on Facebook.

*** Also check out this article on hiring or becoming a second shooter at a wedding.




No Comments

  1. Joyce on August 31, 2011 at 9:22 am

    What a great write up. This is the best thing ever. Thank you so much!

  2. Tammy on August 31, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Great write up. I love the wedding schedule. Usually I go over all this at the bridal consulation and then follow up with an email about we talked about. This is a little more detailed with the timing. That’s great! I wish wish wish I could convince every couple to do the Reveal BEFORE the ceremony. It makes a tremendous difference in the outcome of the pics at the end of the day. It is soooo rushed after the ceremony and you’re trying to get all those formal stuffy family shots out of the way. Hopefully with time, that old tired tradition will change and more couples will do the Reveal before the ceremony. The difference in the pictures is really amazing.

    • Clarissa on August 31, 2011 at 7:14 pm

      I couldn’t agree more! I hate rushing through the bride and groom pictures!

  3. Jessica Schilling on August 31, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Hey, I got married at Bradley’s Pond! Nice to see it mentioned here and I could picture all the places that were in the schedule 🙂 Great advice about planning, as well as adapting when plans change.

  4. Clarissa on August 31, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Wonderful post! I love the schedule idea. Can I just say how much I HATE family formals. They are the worst part of weddings for me…

  5. Micah Folsom on September 1, 2011 at 10:41 am

    love her schedule… seems like this would help things run so much smoother!

  6. Lori on September 26, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Sorry but I have to point out how important spelling and proper grammar is when communicating with clients. A cute and chatty tone is one thing, but having two glaring errors in the first paragraph alone (and there are others throughout the Sample Schedule) does not convey professionalism. Hopefully this is just a sample and was not actually given to a client, but even sadder that it was not caught before using as an example for a post on ‘professional’ wedding photography.

  7. wedding dress Orange County on January 13, 2012 at 1:54 am

    With thorough planning you are assured that everything will have a positive result. This will satisfy both the bride and the groom on the outcome that you will be doing from those pictures that you have taken.

  8. Alli on October 12, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    This is an awesome sample schedule. After a few weddings under my belt (and a very stressed photographer I was), I realized day-of, that a schedule is almost useless for the parties involved. It does help me tremendously keep up with who I need to photograph and when they are to be photographed. I certainly wish my clients would do a reveal beforehand. It does change the tone of the entire ceremony and I HATE rushing Bride and Groom portraits. What tends to happen is that I get the family portraits out of the way and then try and take the B/G with me to another spot at the venue for some candid and formal portraits and people keep saying everyone is waiting on you guys! It stresses the bride and groom and they get in a hurried mode and all their pictures somewhat reflect that. I always suggest in the bridal consultation that as many family portraits and groupings we can get before the wedding leaves more time for partying afterwards. One thing I’ve learned over the years of wedding photography, be very flexible and be prepared for anything. 🙂

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