Choosing Your Wedding Photo Timeline

wedding timeline Saskatchewan

I recently wrote an article for a photographer friend of mine to include in her Wedding Guide and I’m excited to share it here as well.  Candace Schwartz owns Jackson Designs & Photography and I have really enjoyed working with her.  She was kind enough to supply some photos for this article.  I hope you enjoy!

Planning times for everything to happen on your wedding day can be a stressful job.  You want to make sure that there’s no awkward gaps in the day for your friends and family….we’ve all been to those out of town weddings with nothing to do for an entire afternoon.  At the same time, you want to make sure you have plenty of time to finish each event without being rushed.  The week before I got married, I kept having this dream that I was in my wedding dress finishing the decor in the church while all the guests were starting to arrive.  Thankfully, I woke up and everything was OK.  But it stressed me out so much that I still remember it vividly nearly eight years later!

While I won’t give all my timeline advise away for free, today I wanted to write a bit about choosing when you do your main photo session for the day.  Let me just start by saying, there are a crazy amount of photo sessions you can include!  Most photographers will include shots throughout the day: getting ready, the ceremony, a family session, a wedding party session and the reception.  To this you can add first looks, couple only sessions, sunset sessions, night photos and anything else you can think of!  You’ll need to decide with your photographer, which wedding photo timeline works best for you.

I’m going to address the main chunk of photos, which is your wedding party and couple session.  There are basically three ways to plan this, and I’m going to outline the pros and cons of each.  Here we go….

Wedding Photo Timeline: Traditional Photos


By far the most common way to schedule your photos is between your ceremony and reception.  This time-slot is great for the couple.  You can spend your whole morning taking your time getting ready.  If you like the tradition of not seeing your spouse until the momentous walk down the aisle, then this works perfectly.  Since most ceremonies are in the early afternoon, taking photos afterward allows photographers to avoid working with the dreaded noon hour light.

The only real con is that your guests have a big break in the middle of the day.  Since it’s so common, most people don’t think twice about it anymore, but it really is rather awkward for your friends and family.  Local people have to dedicate an extra several hours of their Saturday to sitting around in their wedding clothes.  Out-of-towners have to try to find something to do in an unfamiliar town in those same uncomfortable wedding clothes.  Maybe I just need to buy more comfortable wedding clothes!

Summary: Great for you, not as great for your guests.

Wedding Photo Timeline: First Look

2. First Look Morning Session

This is becoming more and more popular with couples.  And why not?  First look sessions ooze romance!  Many couples say that a first look in the morning doesn’t take away the breathlessness of that first glimpse down the aisle.  This timeline works out great for your guests as well since they can move right from the ceremony into cocktail hour.  I would suggest leaving any extended family shots until after the ceremony….it’s just too hard to get all those people there early.  The downside is that for good lighting, you want to go earlier in the morning.  But that means getting ready early and the day can become pretty long for the wedding party.  You might also want to schedule a hair and makeup touch-up before you head down the aisle.

Summary: Super romantic, and great for your guests.  Long day for the wedding party.

Wedding Photo Timeline: Post-wedding

3. End of the Day

Brunch and lunch receptions are gaining popularity the last several years as a great alternative to dinners.  I could go into all the reasons for that, but that’s another post!  As photos go, this may be a way to get the best of both worlds.  Your guests can move right from the morning ceremony to the reception with no awkward waiting.  You still get to save your first look for the ceremony.  And your photographer can take as long as they like to work with the beautiful lighting that comes later in the day.  You do have to get ready early in the day, which can be tough if you’re not a morning person.  And you’ll also want to have a touch-up of hair and makeup before photos.  Oh, and beware of the dangers of eating before photos!

Summary: Great for guests, traditional first look, and flexible for photographers.  But you’ll have to set an alarm!

So there you have it!  Hopefully that leaves you with a clearer idea of what will work for you.  You want your photos to be relaxing and fun.  The most important decision you’ll make about your wedding photo timeline is choosing a photographer who suits your style and personality.  A good photographer can make you look good in almost any situation.  If planning your timeline is stressing you out, it might be time to hire a wedding planner!

Photos provided by Jackson Designs & Photography.  Access her full Wedding Guide.

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