When it comes to planning your wedding day timeline, there are tons of things to consider—from vendor setup to hair-and-makeup to your grand entrance—but perhaps the most important of them all is photography. With countless memorable moments to capture and family and wedding party members to wrangle for group shots, photography affects your wedding day timeline in a number of ways you might not expect. Below, then, we’ve broken down the top moments to keep in mind when it comes to working photography into that always-tricky timeline.

1. Getting Ready


You know those stunning shots you see of a groom adjusting his cuff links or a bride applying lipstick in picture-perfect lighting? Those don’t just happen out of nowhere—they take adjustments, which take time. Oftentimes, while getting-ready photos may look candid, they actually aren’t. The photographer may ask your hair stylist to move her hand this way or that, or pretend to adjust your updo just one more time (or seven more times), or pin and then re-pin your veil in order to capture that moment from an angle they’re satisfied with. All of these tiny adjustments—asking you to step into your dress one more time, asking you to keep readjusting your cufflinks while they capture the perfect lighting, having you pretend to slip in and out of your shoes, having your makeup artist hold the blush brush just so against your cheek—add up when it comes to timeline. We recommend padding at least 25-30 extra minutes onto the getting-ready portion of your timeline to account for your photographer’s adjustments.

2. First Look


Your first look should be a completely natural moment—but, after you and your fiancé have had the time to enjoy that candid moment, your photographer may want to capture some more posed photos and/or have you move to an area with more natural lighting, adjust your clothing, pretend to dance, etc. If you’re doing a first-look, we recommend adding at least 10 extra minutes onto this area of your timeline to account for photography adjustments. If you know there are certain settings at your venue that you'll want photos in front of (that pine forest across the street or that super-cool mural that's a ten-minute walk from your first look area), you may want to add at least 15-20 extra minutes onto your timeline to account for moving from A to B to C (walking to each, especially if you're in heels and a wedding dress, can take longer than you think).

3. Wedding Party Shots


Wrangling groomsmen and bridesmaids for photos always (we repeat always) takes longer than you may think. There’s the party-lover who keeps sneaking away to the bar, the social butterfly who can’t help but chat with everyone who passes by, the selfie-snapper who keeps running to that awesome full-length mirror for another pic—the list goes on (and on...and on). Whether you’re capturing wedding-party shots during your getting-ready time, right after your first look, or during cocktail hour, you’ll want to pad this part of your timeline by about 15-20 minutes. If you have a large wedding party (7+ bridesmaids/groomsmen on each side), you’ll want to pad this part of your timeline by 25-30 minutes to be safe.

4. Couple Shots


This is the one area you don’t want to feel rushed—you want photos of you and your new spouse to turn out beautifully, so don’t schedule them for that short 15 minutes you have in between your first dance and the time speeches start. Instead, choose a time when you can comfortably step away from your reception or cocktail hour for at least 30 minutes to capture photos of just the two of you. Keep in mind how lighting will affect these photos as well. If you’re envisioning epic sunset shots, make sure you communicate this to your photographer ahead of time and check the forecast to find out the exact time of sunset.

Overall, photography affects your wedding day timeline in a number of ways—but mainly in the sense that so many seemingly “candid” shots aren’t really that candid at all. Images of a veil blowing just-so in the wind, or a groom twirling a bride during their first look often take adjustments and multiple takes to get right. A great photographer will know how to work quickly to capture the best, most candid images without constantly having to adjust you and your spouse—but even the best photographers may end up taking longer than you expected to capture all of those memorable moments that happen on your Big Day. So, remember, when in doubt, pad your timeline...and then pad it some more!

Photo courtesy Jeffrey Oltman

Hawaii wedding planner LVL Weddings and Events