Wedding Photography Timeline Tips // Wedding Planning Tips

December 21, 2019

So you’re planning a wedding… congratulations!

To help you out, I have put together some of my tips for planning wedding photography timeline and engagement session!

I planned a wedding once too and I had no idea what I was doing. How could I? I didn’t know what a wedding day actually looked like. I had only ever been to roughly three weddings in my entire life and for two of them, I was hardly 4 feet tall. I had no understanding that wedding days can really look however you want them to look. Now I really love it when a couple makes the day their own.

Side rant: Don’t let anyone else’s expectations of what your wedding should look like, make you feel as though you can’t celebrate just how you want to. Your vows are yours to say, whether you decide to say them on the top of a mountain or underwater.

  • So how do you book a wedding photographer?
  • When should you plan for engagement photos?
  • What’s a wedding photography timeline anyway?


All of these are important questions.

Finding a wedding photographer is something that is very personal and subjective. Your wedding photographer should be someone you trust and who fits your taste and style. I suggest reaching out to photographers as soon as you book your venue and wedding date. If there is a wedding photographer you know you absolutely must have, reach out to them ahead of time to get a list of dates that they still have available. Chances are if you’re dead set on them, someone else is too and they just may have gotten to them first.

Keep in mind: many wedding photographers only book up to a year and a half out.


When is the best time to book your engagement session?

There are a few things we have to consider before we can say for sure:

  • Do you want to use your engagement photos for a Save the Date?

  • Are you planning to use them on your invitations?

  • Would you like to use them in your wedding, like in a guest book or a few framed photos?

If you’re thinking all of the above, then you should have your engagement portraits taken around six to nine months before your wedding date. That way you will have them ready in time to use them for a save the date or invitations.

If all you care about is to have them ready in time for your wedding, then two to three months before is good, that will give you plenty of time to get them printed or made into an album. Something to consider – it’s a good idea to plan your hair and makeup trial around your engagement session so that you can take full advantage of looking shmexy!

Another question to consider is what season you’re hoping to have them taken in. This decision mostly influences your outfits and what time of day golden hour will be. Spring and Summer are, of course, the most popular seasons for photos and weddings, so wedding photographers will be busy especially during the weekends. I only offer engagement sessions on weekdays from Spring-Fall. However, since we have longer days during the summer, we are usually able to schedule your engagement session later in the day after you’re done with work.

Speaking of your outfits, I have put together a Pinterest board with some ideas for what to wear for your engagement session!. Check it out! I am also here to help you pick out an outfit or offer advice if you’d like it!


How to build your wedding photography timeline:

Arguably the most important aspect of planning your day when it comes to the photography on your wedding day is nailing down your timeline. Your timeline plays a huge role in your day when it comes to lighting and whether or not you’re able to get all of the photos you need.

Here’s how it generally breaks down:

  • Getting Ready (1.5-2 hrs)

  • First Look (15 mins)
    – if you’re planning a first look with anyone else (like a parent or wedding party) you will want to set aside and additional 15 mins for them as well

  • Couple Portraits (1 hr – this can be split up before & after the ceremony)

  • Group formals: Family, Wedding Party (30 – 45 mins each depending on the group sizes, heavily suggested to do these before the ceremony if larger groups)

  • Ceremony decor and details (20 mins)

  • Ceremony (20-30 mins, up to an hour sometimes depending on the type of ceremony)

  • The signing of your marriage license (15 mins)

  • Cocktail hour (1 hr)

  • Reception decor and details (20 mins)

  • Reception grand entrance (10 mins)

  • Reception events: Cake-cutting, toasts, first dances, party, performances, send-off (2-3 hrs)

Remember, this is just a rough guide. Every wedding is different so it’s important that you make sure to discuss these things with your photographer as you plan your wedding.


Want tips on how to ensure good lighting for your ceremony? Check out this guide!

Think you’re ready to hire your wedding photographer? Send me an email!

Trying to decide if you should hire a second shooter? Read my advice here!