The schedule of your day is the single most important piece to make sure things run smoothly. If you are not working with a coordinator or planner, it’s important that you and and your photographer work together and create a schedule that will not only give us time to do our best work, but allow the day to be stress-free (and give you both more time to partyyy). I’m serious when it comes to my timelines: I wear a watch and will try my best to stick to our schedule to ensure we get the plenty of portraits while also giving you space to enjoy the rest of the night.
The timeline below shows what an ideal day looks like for me timing wise. This is obviously strictly an example, but will show you how I typically structure the day if given the opportunity. I like to make sure we have optimal time built-in for things like off-location portraits, bridal party & family based on how many people there are, venue restrictions, etc. In all, we can achieve this ideal timing and you’ll get higher quality photos because we aren’t rushed for time.
First looks impact this greatly. Here are a few more points why I love them:
1) On average, you get to spend about 4-5 hours MORE with your significant other on your wedding day (that’s huge!)
2) First looks are almost ALWAYS more emotional and meaningful than seeing each other down the aisle (afraid you’ll miss that “epic moment” down the aisle? I’d say 99% of my couples STILL got choked up walking
down the aisle even though they saw one another...Music & having people present = all the feels.)
3) They allow you to enjoy time with your friends during cocktail hour because we aren’t scrambling for photos. Bring on the apps and drinks and go mingle!
4) We aren’t rushed to do your portraits, family portraits, AND bridal party during cocktail hour (not rushed = better photos).
5) You’d likely not need to add more time to your already packed schedule to accommodate more portrait time.
2020 WEDDING GUIDE
In all, I won’t force any of my couples to do a first look, but I often encourage it for many other reasons besides just getting “more portraits”. It really does make things run very smoothly and I’d be sad if you didn’t at least consider it.
The first question I generally get before a wedding is “how long should we set aside for portraits”? Easy answer: your first look should happen about 2.5 hours before your ceremony, which means bride & groom should be ready to go about 3 hours before the ceremony. More complicated answer: depending on the size of your bridal party, size of family, how much time the two of you want for portraits, whether there is any travel involved, etc. will all indicate the perfect timing.
Here is a quick example:
First look: ~10 minutes (Start of 2.5 hour chunk)
Bride & Groom portraits: 45 min (less if there is no travel involved) Bridal Party: 30 minutes
Family: 30-45 minutes
30 minute buffer before ceremony for arriving guests & to freshen up (end of 2.5 hours)
Bride & Groom portraits: 15-20 minutes about an hour before sunset
If you’re not doing a first look, the 2.5 hour chunk would be moved to between the ceremony and reception.
This may fluctuate based on how many people are in the bridal party and how many family members will be present. I suggest 45 minutes to an hour at a minimum for Bridal and Groom portraits for one reason, It gives you two a second to breathe! Your wedding day is going to be a fun day, but sometimes you’re pulled here and there without a moment
to really have a moment together. Having an additional 10-15 minutes after the portraits to just enjoy some time between you two let’s you soak it all in. At the end of the day, the wedding is about you two!