Planning Your Wedding Day Schedule

Wedding Planning

And getting the most out of your wedding photography.

One of the big things I get asked a lot of is how to plan your wedding day schedule to maximise time with guests, but also get the most out of your wedding photos. For most couples who book me, photography is really important to them. And why wouldn’t it be? You are paying me to be there, you want to be damn sure I’m getting the best shots of you and your guests. But finding a good balance to the day can often be a daunting task for couples. From candids, to family photos, to the photos of just you as a couple, plus all the little moments in between.

It’s likely you don’t plan weddings regularly. Even if you’ve attended hundreds, chances are you weren’t paying too much attention to how the couples arranged their day, and organised their various vendors. Here I’ll talk about important questions to ask yourself when planning your wedding day schedule, and give you two examples of a typical day with contracted 8 hours of wedding photography.

Important questions to ask yourself and to discuss with your photographer:

  • What are the “anchor points” of the day?

These are things that are built into the schedule that are the hardest to change. Typically this is the ceremony, the wedding breakfast, cutting the cake, and the first dance. Writing these down first on your schedule will help you fill in the rest of the day, and find the gaps and space for scheduling other things. This will also help you decided how many hours you’ll want your photographer there for.

  • What are the flexible parts of the day?

These events tend to flow around the anchor points. So typically getting ready, bride and groom prep, family photos, social hour, games and speeches (speeches sometimes are less flexible as they are tied to the wedding breakfast, but they can be flexible whether they’re done before, after, or during).

  • How much wedding party prep do you want on the day?

Answering this will determine what time your photographer should arrive to start photographing, and whether or not you should have a second photographer, even if it’s just for this prep time.

  • Do you and your partner want to see each other before the ceremony, ie a “first look”, or do you want the first time you see each other to be at the ceremony? 

This small detail can completely change how your schedule can be set up. If you choose to do a first look, it means getting ready a bit earlier, however it also means you can get all your couple photos done before the ceremony even starts. As a photographer, this is an ideal set up. After the ceremony it can be hard to get away from the party, as you have so many guests that you want to chat to. Having the couple photos done before the ceremony means that only the family photos are the ones that need to be completed afterward. Freeing you up to mingle with guests.

  • Is there anyone in your family that you want to include in family photos that you need to make a special exception for?

This might be an elderly relative, or your cousin who has 4 small children with her at your wedding. You may want to schedule the photos they will be in to be taken first.

  • How extensive do you want the family and wedding party photos to be?

I’ve worked with couples that had a long list of different combinations of people. And they wanted everyone who was family or married to family to be in photos. And alternatively, I’ve had couples who wanted to keep the family photos really limited to immediate family. Both are great options, but it’s important to know what you want to do before the day to avoid confusion and hurt feelings. To make this process as easy and as flawless as possible, you should make a list of the different family photos you want and the combinations of people and provide this to your photographer.

Furthermore, when it comes to this part in the wedding I also ask for a person (usually from the wedding party) to help me manage this process. Someone who is familiar with your family and knows who is who and can help me call out names and check the different shots off the list. This part of the day is the one that can cause the most stress to the couple, as inevitably someone has gone to fetch another drink while they wait for their turn to be photographed and then are nowhere to be found when their name is being called. But doing a bit of planning on the front end, and getting your photographer all the tools they need to execute the process can take a lot of stress off.

Example Schedules incorporating 8 hours of contracted photography :

Obviously there are a lot of other factors that can play into schedule, like whether or not the wedding couple are getting ready in the same building/location. But these are a good guideline to start with when planning your wedding day schedule.

Wedding Schedule with no first look and ceremony starting at 1:30pm – the anchor points are in bold

10am-1pm – Wedding prep – couple gets ready

12pm – Photographer arrives

1:30pm – Ceremony (approx 45 min)

2:15-2:45pm – Family and wedding party photos immediately following the ceremony

2:45-3:45pm – Couple portraits

3:45-4:30 – Candids of guests and couple mingling

4:30pm – Speeches

5:30-7pm – Wedding Breakfast

7-7:50pm – More candids of guests mingling and toasts happening

7:50pm – Cake Cutting

8pm – First dance, photographer stays through first dance.


Wedding schedule with a first look and ceremony starting at 2:30pm

10am-1pm – Wedding prep – couple gets ready

12pm – Photographer arrives

1pm – First look and the couple portraits

2:30 – Ceremony

2:30-3pm – Family and wedding party photos immediately following the ceremony

3:00-4:30 – Candids of guests and couple mingling

4:30pm – Speeches

5:30-7pm – Wedding breakfast

7-7:50pm – More candids of guests mingling and toasts happening

7:50pm – Cake cutting

8pm – First dance, photographer stays through first dance.

I hope you found this small guide helpful in planning your wedding day schedule. It’s hard to address all the factors that could play into your particular day, but this should be a good starting point for anyone who is stuck on how to plan it. The biggest advice I can give you is to solicit help from people who are able to assist you. Talk to your photographer and get them on the same page, enlist your bridesmaids and/or groomsmen to help organise family together. It’s your wedding, and I guarantee, everyone there just wants it all to go according to plan. So do the busy work before the big day, and sit back and relax for the rest of it. Because there are so many moments that you just can’t plan.

I would love to help you plan your wedding day schedule, and be there to capture all the moments in between. Please get in touch to chat about how I can photograph your wedding day.



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