The question the brides ask me the most has nothing to do with photography, but with their wedding day timeline!! Timelines can be stressful. What time does this happen? What time should he/she arrive? How much time do I need for this? These are just a few examples of questions I get asked. Here are some tips and tricks that I have learned over the past 5 years of photographing weddings that will help ease some stress and provide some clarity when it comes to your timeline.

1. How many hours of coverage do I need?

When my couples book me, they book a package with a certain number of hours. It’s okay to need more! Up to the day of your wedding, you can add on hours to your wedding package! If you are doing a first look or having an early ceremony, I suggest anywhere from 9-10 hours of coverage. If your ceremony is later in the day, you might be fine with 6-8.

2. When should wedding coverage start?

My coverage starts right as the bride is finishing hair and makeup. That way I have time to capture some time with the bride and her bridesmaids, as well as getting on the dress, and shooting details. Details include finding the perfect way to set up your invitation suite, shoes, and jewelry, as well as the perfect spot to hang your wedding gown for an epic dress shot! I’d love to have at least an hour, if not more, to capture the “getting ready” portion of the day.

3. When should wedding coverage end?

I end coverage whenever the couple wants me to! Normally, this is an hour after the dance floor opens up for the rest of the night. At this point, all the formal dances are done, the cake is cut, and I have had plenty of time to walk around the dance floor capturing guests dancing the night away. Pro tip: if you want your photographer to capture a sparkler exit but don’t want to pay to have them the whole reception, do a sparkler celebration instead! This is when your guests, or just the bridal party, go outside and do the sparklers early! Since you’re not leaving afterwards, we call it a celebration! Not an exit. Then the dancing resumes!

4. How much time do I need to plan for formal portraits?

If you are doing a first look, I’d love to have 2 hours for everything! This includes the first look, Bride & Groom portraits, Bridal Party portraits, and even family! That way all the portraits are done prior to the ceremony, which allows everyone to go straight into cocktail hour, grab a drink, and celebrate instead of stressing over more photos! If you don’t do a first look, or don’t have the time, here is a breakdown of portraits: First look – 15 minutes. B&G – 30 minutes. Bridal party – 15-20 minutes. Family – 15 minutes. Remember to factor in any travel time! Lastly, I always recommend sunset portraits to my couples! They ALWAYS end up being my couples favorites! It literally takes 5-10 minutes and it is worth it!! I will take you outside either while your guests are finishing dinner, or during open dancing. No one will know you’re gone!

5. Should I do a receiving line?

My honest opinion on this is no. Why? Because they normally take about an hour!! A whole hour that can be used towards portraits or travel time. My advice is if you are having a church ceremony, do a church exit (bubble, ribbon, etc) and then hide back inside until family portraits. If even one guest sees you others will gather and you won’t be able to get away for pictures. The perfect time to greet your guests would be to go around to each table during dinner (right after you eat of course), or during cocktail hour. Receiving lines sound like such a good and efficient way to greet every guest, but you’d be surprised how long one actually lasts.