Kim Hymes Photography is a documentary wedding photographer rooted in Atlanta and travels to destinations around the world.

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Planning Advice

How to Plan The Optimal Wedding Photography Timeline!

When it comes to organizing your wedding timeline, you may be surprised to learn that a lot of your schedule will revolve around photography! This ensures that there’s plenty of time to capture every detail, every family photo, and all the Golden Hour photos your heart desires. A great wedding photography timeline takes into account the timing of the sunset, whether or not you’re choosing to take photos in multiple locations, as well as the number of photographers covering your wedding. There’s a lot to take into consideration! 

Luckily, a great photographer can help you create the perfect wedding photography timeline to make sure you have plenty of time for all the photos you need on your wedding day. Here are some of my tips when it comes to your unique wedding photography timeline! 

Things to Consider When Planning Your Wedding Photography Timeline

A bride smiles in a doorway in a white lace wedding dress Wedding Photography Timeline

Time of Year

The time of year greatly affects your wedding photography timeline since, depending on the season, the sun will set at different times. I highly encourage you to take advantage of the spectacular glowing light that comes with the proverbial “Golden Hour” since it truly leads to the most stunning and romantic portraits. That being said, depending on when and where you’re getting married, Golden Hour will vary. 

Winter Weddings typically will see a much earlier and shorter sunset, whereas summer sunsets are much later in the day and provide a little extra time with Golden Hour light. That being said, if you’re getting married somewhere where the sun sets at 5:30 pm on your wedding day, you may not want to schedule a 5:00 ceremony and lose your chance for Golden Hour photos. The same goes for summer weddings; if the sun isn’t setting until 9 pm, you’ll want to make sure you schedule in time later in the evening to get those gorgeous glowing photos. 

Details of a white themed table setting at a wedding reception

Sunset Times

It may sound silly to plan your wedding timeline around the sunset, but I promise it will all be worth it! Try to set aside 30 to 45 minutes before sunset to capture romantic Golden Hour photos. That may mean hosting your ceremony before then in order to sneak away with your partner while your guests enjoy cocktail hour. Or, if you’re planning on a ceremony later in the evening, have a beautiful first look and then take advantage of Golden Hour before you say, “I do.” A customized timeline can absolutely be made to accommodate your wedding’s unique needs, so don’t worry too much about having it all come together – everything will fall into place! 

A bride stands at an iron gate covered in vines at sunset Wedding Photography Timeline

Example of a Late Sunset Wedding Photography Timeline

  • 9:45 – 11:30 Getting Ready
  • 11:30 – 12:00 First Look 
  • 12:00 – 12:30 Bride & Groom Portraits
  • 12:30 – 1:15 Wedding Party
  • 1:15 – 1:45 Drive to Ceremony Location
  • 1:45 – 2:00 Ceremony Decor
  • 2:00 – 3:00 Wedding Ceremony 
  • 3:00 – 3:30 Drive to Reception Location
  • 3:30 – 4:00 Family Photos 
  • 4:00 – 5:00 Cocktail Hour & Reception Decor
  • 7:00 Sunset 
  • 5:00 – 7:45 Reception
  • 6:00 – 6:30 Husband & Wife Sunset Portraits

A wedding cake with silver decorations sits on a cold stand and marble table Wedding Photography Timeline

Example of an Early Sunset Wedding Photography Timeline

  • 9:15 – 11:15 Getting Ready
  • 11:15 – 11:45 First Look 
  • 11:45 – 12:15 Bride & Groom Portraits
  • 12:15 – 1:00 Wedding Party
  • 1:00 – 1:30 Drive to Ceremony Location
  • 1:30 – 2:00 Ceremony Decor
  • 2:00 – 3:00 Wedding Ceremony
  • 3:00 – 3:30 Drive to Reception Location
  • 3:30 – 4:00 Family Photos
  • 4:00 – 4:30 Husband & Wife Sunset Portraits
  • 4:30 – 5:00 Cocktail Hour & Reception Decor
  • 5:00 Sunset
  • 5:00 – 7:45 Reception

A bride in a lace wedding dress stands in a window in front of an elaborate tropical wall Wedding Photography Timeline

How Many Locations

While it can be tempting to try and capture as many different location looks on your wedding day as possible, it’s typically recommended to limit the number of photo locations to no more than three (and even fewer, if possible.) Moving from place to place wastes time that could be spent taking pictures on traveling and setup, both of which will need to be accounted for in your final timeline. 

It’s your photographer’s job to make sure that you and your partner look incredible wherever you’re taking pictures. If you have your heart set on a certain look (beach photos, forest photos, industrial photos), be sure to communicate it with your photographer well ahead of time so they can help you find the perfect locations for your wedding photos. That being said, consider picture-perfect spots near and around your venue to reduce travel time and take advantage of every moment with your photographer!

Details of a pink wedding cake slice on a floral designed plate

Example of a Wedding Photography Timeline with One Location

  • 1:45 – 3:15 Getting Ready
  • 3:15 – 3:30 Bride Portraits 
  • 3:30 – 3:45 Bride with Bridesmaids
  • 3:45 – 4:00 Bride with Her Family 
  • 4:00 – 4:15 Groom Individuals & Groom with Groomsmen  
  • 4:15 – 4:30 Groom with His Family
  • 4:30 – 5:00 Photograph Ceremony Decor 
  • 5:00 – 5:30 Wedding Ceremony 
  • 5:30 – 5:45 Full Bridal Party 
  • 5:45 – 6:00 Immediate Family Portraits with Bride & Groom 
  • 6:00 – 6:30 Husband & Wife Sunset Portraits 
  • 6:30 – 7:00 Cocktail Hour & Reception Decor 
  • 7:00 Sunset 
  • 7:00 – 9:45 Reception

Details of a wedding ceremony table setting with lit candles and colorful flowers

Example of a Wedding Photography Timeline with Two Locations

  • 1:15 – 2:45 Getting Ready
  • 2:45 – 3:15 Drive to Ceremony & Reception Location
  • 3:15 – 3:30 Bride Portraits 
  • 3:30 – 3:45 Bride with Bridesmaids
  • 3:45 – 4:00 Bride with Her Family 
  • 4:00 – 4:15 Groom Individuals & Groom with Groomsmen  
  • 4:15 – 4:30 Groom with His Family
  • 4:30 – 5:00 Photograph Ceremony Decor 
  • 5:00 – 5:30 Wedding Ceremony 
  • 5:30 – 5:45 Full Bridal Party 
  • 5:45 – 6:00 Immediate Family Portraits with Bride & Groom 
  • 6:00 – 6:30 Husband & Wife Sunset Portraits 
  • 6:30 – 7:00 Cocktail Hour & Reception Decor 
  • 7:00 Sunset 
  • 7:00 – 10:15 Reception

Newlyweds embrace each other while standing by a large iron gate covered in vines Wedding Photography Timeline

First Looks

First looks are becoming more popular with couples who want to take advantage of extra time to take photos and share a few more intimate moments before their ceremony. Some couples look forward to treasuring the moment when a groom sees his bride walking down the aisle, and that’s absolutely understandable! It’s a moment that you’ll never be able to recreate. However, there are lots of perks to having a first look in your wedding photography timeline. 

A first look prior to your ceremony is truly no less magical than seeing each other from across the aisle. It’s a special, intimate moment typically shared between just you and your partner that is packed with emotion and joy. Plus, you’ll get the opportunity to spend a quiet moment together before the day really picks up, exchange heartfelt letters or notes, and just enjoy being with your best friend on the biggest day of your lives. 

In addition to sharing a few private moments, a first look often allows you the opportunity to schedule in more time for taking photos with your families and wedding parties! When you wait to see one another at the altar, it can be a little challenging to make sure you’re getting all the pictures you want in the amount of time between your ceremony and reception. With a first look, you can even cross off your list of photo must-haves before the ceremony so you can spend time socializing at cocktail hour with your guests! 

Details of a small colorful wedding cake with a bottle of champagne on a marble table

Example of a Wedding Photography Timeline with No First Look

  • 1:45 – 3:15 Getting Ready
  • 3:15 – 3:30 Bride Portraits 
  • 3:30 – 3:45 Bride with Bridesmaids
  • 3:45 – 4:00 Bride with Her Family 
  • 4:00 – 4:15 Groom Individuals & Groom with Groomsmen  
  • 4:15 – 4:30 Groom with His Family
  • 4:30 – 5:00 Photograph Ceremony Decor 
  • 5:00 – 5:30 Wedding Ceremony 
  • 5:30 – 5:45 Full Bridal Party 
  • 5:45 – 6:00 Immediate Family Portraits with Bride & Groom 
  • 6:00 – 6:30 Husband & Wife Sunset Portraits 
  • 6:30 – 7:00 Cocktail Hour & Reception Decor 
  • 7:00 Sunset 
  • 7:00 – 9:45 Reception

Details of a groom looking over his shoulder with a butterfly pin on his lapel Wedding Photography Timeline

Example of a Wedding Photography Timeline with a First Look

  • 1:15 – 2:45 Getting Ready
  • 2:45 – 3:15 First Look 
  • 3:15 – 3:45 Bride & Groom Portraits
  • 3:45 – 4:30 Wedding Party
  • 4:30 – 5:00 Immediate Family Photos
  • 5:00 – 5:30 Photograph Ceremony Decor 
  • 5:30 – 6:00 Wedding Ceremony 
  • 6:00 – 6:30 Husband & Wife Sunset Portraits 
  • 6:30 – 7:00 Cocktail Hour & Reception Decor 
  • 7:00 Sunset 
  • 7:00 – 9:15 Reception

Details of a groom pouring champagne around purple flowers

How Many Photographers

Having more than one photographer at your wedding means that you’ll have every detail covered from multiple angles. Not to mention that an extra set of eyes and a bonus lens can save time by capturing one wedding party or side of the family while a second photographer covers the other! With one photographer, they may spend a decent amount of time bouncing around from place to place or person to person – totally doable, but maybe just a little more hectic. 

Hiring two photographers is a bigger expense, but it’s totally worth it when it comes to capturing every moment. With two, one photographer can be positioned to capture your wedding party walking down the aisle while the other focuses on your groom’s emotional reaction. Someone can wander your cocktail hour snapping candids of your guests while the second photographer can steal away with you and your partner for Golden Hour photos. Two photographers just allow for so much flexibility and greater coverage – totally worth the extra investment, especially if you are prioritizing wedding photos! 

Newlyweds pop a bottle of champagne surrounded by purple flowers and mirror balls on a brick patio Wedding Photography Timeline

Wedding Photography Timeline

Your wedding photography timeline will be unique to the circumstances of your wedding day, making sure you get all the pictures you need with plenty of time to enjoy your day – after all, it really does fly by! Still have questions about creating your wedding photography timeline? I’d love to help! I have years of experience photographing weddings, and I’d love to put that expertise (and my passion for helping couples capture their love story!) to good use for your wedding. Let’s talk!

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