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Wedding Photography Timeline - Tips and Advice

by Josh Root, January 2008

Wedding photography is an art. To master it requires being familiar with the minor details, procedures and traditions that are tied up into this special day. This sample timeline outlines a series of steps a professional photographer might experience as well as typical responses and preparations needed to carry out a wedding to completion. Every wedding is different, and chances are slim that you will ever see a wedding process that goes exactly like this. For beginning wedding photographers, this article may provide useful information and give an overall glimpse into the timing for photographing a wedding.

Note: This is one perspective of the timeline for a wedding and mainly focuses on an American-style Christian wedding ceremony and traditions. We invite you to share your own timeline at the end of the article.

4-12 months prior to the wedding date

  • Initial contact with Bride and Groom (noted as B/G from here forward) via phone or email.
  • Meet in person with B/G. Show portfolio, provide price sheet and other printed promotional materials and discuss rates/packages/contract.
  • Receive signed contract and retainer which can be anywhere from 20 to 50% to hold the date.
  • Discuss wedding with B/G and gather initial information about times, locations, number of bridal party members, etc. Help the couple be realistic with timing especially with regards to how many family photographs they require.

1 month prior to the wedding date

  • Contact B/G by phone, email or in person. At this point you will want to go over the timeline; double check the information you gathered previously; be clear about the priorities, details, times and locations and formal family photographs. Make sure you know if there are any divorces and how those photos will be handled with regards to step-parents/siblings etc. Whenever possible get the information in writing.

1 week prior to the wedding date

  • Contact B/G to once again confirm all info.
  • Get emergency phone numbers.

1 day prior to the wedding date

  • Charge all camera/flash batteries and make sure you have more than enough batteries on hand.
  • Format all memory cards.
  • Remove dust from camera body imaging sensors.
  • Clean lens elements.
  • Pack camera bags/cases with all needed gear.
  • Review all your information that you have (hopefully written).
  • Make sure you have accurate directions (if needed), contract and any written information about the details, group shots, etc. packed in your bag.
  • Get a good nights sleep.

Wedding day, 2-5 hours before the ceremony

  • Eat something, you may not get a chance later.
  • Pack all gear into car. Double check to see that batteries and memory cards are there.
  • Map and directions on hand if needed, and/or your GPS is ready to go.
  • If this is not a local wedding, make sure you have budgeted enough travel time.

Wedding day, 1-3 hours before ceremony

  • Images of Bride/Bridesmaids getting ready. Makeup, hair, etc.
  • Images of Groom/Groomsmen getting ready. Ties, cufflinks, making a toast, etc. if time allows.
  • Images of Mother of Bride (MOB) attaching veil, zipping up bride's dress, etc.
  • Images of decorations being put up.
  • Images of guests arriving.
  • Formal portraits (see dedicated section below) if doing these prior to the ceremony. If not doing these formal family photographs prior to the ceremony, this is a good time to do the Bridal Portraits while she's fresh. Also, if possible, take portraits of the Bridesmaids with Bride and perhaps family with bride, which will save time later after the ceremony.

Wedding Day, last hour before ceremony

  • Images of guests arriving.
  • Prayers with family or minister.
  • Last minute hugs, tears, toasts or prayers with bridesmaids/groomsmen/parents.
  • Guests being seated.
  • If there is time and ceremony is at a venue rather than a church - this might be a good time to get photos of the tent, reception room, flowers, decorated tables and other details.

The Ceremony, processional

  • Parents and Grandparents.
  • Groom and Groomsman usually arriving from side door or Bridesmaid/Groomsman pairs.
  • Bridesmaids, if not in pairs above.
  • Maid of honor, if not in pair above.
  • Ringbearer and/or Flower Girl.
  • Bride and her father (traditionally).

The Ceremony, giving away of the Bride

  • Bride and father reach the altar and Minister addresses Father of Bride.
  • Father of Bride answers (sometimes both Father and Mother answer) and "gives" bride to Groom, typically hugs daughter and shakes Groom's hand.
  • Father of Bride leaves to sit with family.

The Ceremony

  • Minister talks to everyone (B/G typically facing minister, away from guests).
  • Minister addresses B/G.
  • B/G recite vows (B/G turn and face each other).
  • B/G exchange rings.
  • Minister addresses everyone, issues pronouncement.
  • B/G kiss.
  • Minister presents "Mr & Mrs..." (B/G turn to face audience).

The Ceremony, popular additions to above

  • Minister leads prayer (B/G typically facing minister).
  • B/G acknowledge parents/grandparents, walk down to hug or shake hands.
  • Mothers of B/G light candles, then B/G use those candles to light central unity candle (hard to photograph, may be facing away from audience at all times).
  • Minister may lead closing prayer after vows but before pronouncement (B/G facing each other).

The Ceremony, recessional

  • B/G walk back down aisle first, usually fairly quickly.
  • Bridesmaids/Groomsmen in reverse order of processional.
  • Minister.
  • Parents, Grandparents, family, and honored guests.
  • B/G may return and greet/release guests row by row, though this is less common than it once was.

The Ceremony, afterwards

  • Bridal party will be hugging, high-fiveing, and crying wherever they all stopped after recessional (excellent candid photo opportunity).
  • Guests will swarm around B/G and congratulate them.
  • Possible receiving line, B/G greet each guest as they exit the church.
  • B/G signing wedding license with minister and witnesses (typically best man & maid of honor).

Formal Portraits (basic groupings for example purposes)

If doing the formal photos after the ceremony it is a good idea to do the largest groups first as well as the Bride's family first so they can host the beginning of the reception as soon as possible. Also, if there are very young children in the formal family photographs, it is wise also to get these done right away as children will tend to get cranky and restless. Here is a typical order for family and wedding party shots after the ceremony. Not all couples want as many as listed here, but this could be considered a "traditional" list. No matter the number of groupings, it is wise to let couples know they should plan 5 minutes per photograph to make sure you have enough time to fit everything in without stress.

  • Bride's side
    • Couple with Bride's parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses and children
    • Couple with Bride's parents (also step combinations if required)
    • Couple with Bride's Grandparents
    • Bride with Siblings
    • Bride with Parents
    • Bride with Mother
    • Bride with Father
    • Bride with Grandparent(s)
  • Groom's Side
    • Couple with Groom's parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses and children
    • Couple with Groom's parents (Also step combinations if required)
    • Couple with Groom's Grandparents
    • Groom with Siblings
    • Groom with Parents
    • Groom with Mother
    • Groom with Father
    • Groom with Grandparent(s)
  • Wedding Party
    • Entire Wedding party with Couple
    • Bridesmaids with Bride
    • Groom with Groomsmen
    • Bride with Maid of Honor
    • Groom with Best Man
  • Possible Additions
    • Bride with flower girls
    • Groom with Ring Bearer
    • Bride with each Bridesmaid
    • Groom with each Groomsman
    • Bride with Groomsmen
    • Groom with Bridesmaids
    • Groom with Ushers
    • Couple with readers
    • Couple with Officiant

Reception, B/G announcement and entrance

  • DJ will announce B/G.
  • B/G enter room to applause.
  • Rest of wedding party enters room.
  • Wedding party sits down at head table.

Reception, meal (buffet for this example)

This is where it is extremely helpful to get the timeline from the couples. Some receptions start with the couple being announced into the room and then they do their first dance. Some start with a welcome toast from Dad followed by the Best Man and Maid of Honor Toast, then a blessing and then the buffet or dinner. Others may have scheduled the toasts after dinner before or after the cake cutting. The first dance can happen between courses or before or after the cake cutting.

  • B/G go through buffet line.
  • Wedding party and family go through buffet line.
  • Rest of guests go through buffet line.
  • Everyone eats.
  • B/G finish first and walk around greeting tables.

Reception, toasts and speeches

  • Best man gives speech, toast.
  • Maid of Honor gives speech, toast.
  • Father of the Bride, toast.
  • Father of the Groom, toast.
  • Other family members, toast.

Reception, cake cutting

  • B/G hold knife together and cut a piece of cake.
  • B/G feed each other cake.
  • B/G mash cake in each other's face (optional).
  • B/G kiss.

Reception, first dances

  • B/G dance.
  • Bride and father dance.
  • Groom and mother dance.
  • DJ calls wedding party onto dance floor.
  • (alternate) DJ calls all married couples onto dance floor.
  • Everyone invited to dance.

Reception, bouquet and garter toss

  • DJ calls single girls to get in group.
  • Blindfolded or with back to girls, bride throws bouquet.
  • Girl catches bouquet, everyone cheers and claps.
  • DJ calls all single guys to get in group.
  • Bride is given chair and sits down.
  • Groom reaches up bride's dress and retrieves garter.
  • Blindfolded or with back to guys, groom throws garter.
  • Guy catches garter, everyone cheers and claps.
  • Dancing begins again, continues until end of reception.

Reception, other events going on during above.

  • B/G visiting with guests.
  • Children dancing.
  • Grandparents dancing.
  • Groom and other men smoking cigars.
  • Parents of B/G sharing stories.
  • Additional drinking and toasts.

Wedding day, arriving home

  • Download memory cards to computer.
  • Burn backup CD/DVD.

Week/month after wedding day

  • Identify good photos.
  • Sort photos into like groups (ceremony, reception, formals, etc.).
  • Process images as per personal style or B/G request.
  • Burn DVD/CD of finished images.
  • Deliver proof images to B/G.
  • Accept and send reprint and/or album orders.
  • Congratulate self on job well done.

Note: this is one perspective of the timing for photographing a wedding. We invite you to share your own experiences and timelines below.

Text and pictures ©2008 Josh Root.

Article created January 2008

Readers' Comments

Add a comment

Scott Lubow , February 05, 2008; 09:29 A.M.

Great list. Thanks for providing. Do you photograph the B&G alone after the rest of the formals and before the reception?


Ilkka Nissila , February 07, 2008; 09:00 A.M.

I think this article, while well written, suggests that wedding photography can be approached like a shopping list, where pre-determined photo ops are created and photographed. I would think that we should encourage the photographer to be innovative and try to make the photographs more personal to the specific couple and events of the day, instead of merely plugging in the specific couple's faces into shots which have been done dozens or hundreds of times before.

Rick Rothwell , February 08, 2008; 09:49 A.M.

Ilkka, I think you need to actually read the opening paragraph. It's stated there that "Wedding photography is an art." meaning that creativity is required. The opening paragraph also clearly states this is a sample, something a photographer might experience, every wedding is different, etc. I don't see where this is ever presented as a standard formula.

For anyone just starting out with wedding photography this sort of list is a wonderful and invaluable tool that they can look at as a template to base their work on, and then customize to the needs of the B/G and the creativity and style of the photographer. I like a 'photojournalistic style' where I don't control the event too much, but a majority of people want certain formal or traditional shots, which I've done in less than 15 minutes (don't count on that!). We create a product that people will hopefully look back upon in 50+ years and still be moved by. Weddings can be chaos in motion, so coming up with shots as you go along may not work. This list gives great suggestions and examples on what the cutomer (B/G) may want to walk away with.

I would add (if practical) visiting the wedding and reception locations a week or two (this will have it fresh in your mind) before the big day to be familiar with the lighting at the ceremony time and the layout of each, especially if you've never been there before or at that time of day. Take sample photos of the layout. Talk to the people in charge at each location to see what you can do (use flash?), where you'll have to work from (balcony in the church?), where people will enter and sit at the ceremony and reception, where the cake will be cut, etc.

If you can't go in person see if there's photos on the web or that they could email or even mail you, and talk to the people 'in charge' on the phone. This will increase your comfort level, help avoid confusion or misunderstandings (untimely and awkward when they happen on the 'big day'), and give you ideas on how to best handle the shoot.

If you can attend the rehearsal that too will be another great opportunity to see the locations, the flow of the event, and meet everyone - again increasing the comfort level of you and them. When you're just starting out, doing a really big event, or satisfying a demanding customer being as prepared as possible goes a long way.

As for memory cards, I haven't had one fail yet, but it will happen someday! If you have a laptop with you or something like an Epson P-5000 download photos into it every break you get. Have a simple and obvious way of knowing which memory cards and batteries have been used. I use the little SanDisk pouches and have new cards face up, used face down - battery tips one way for new, the opposite for used. Nothing worse than trying to change either cards or batteries just when something is happening, and finding they're used and you have to look for the good ones.

I like the boy scout motto, "Always be prepared." This article goes a long way to helping you have a fun and productive shoot, and producing a product that the couple will be happy with for years to come, and they will proud to share with future generations.

byAlf Jasaitis , February 16, 2008; 10:32 A.M.

This is the most preciuos article you can find on wedding photography timetable planing. Thanks indeed

Matthew McManamey , February 18, 2008; 09:26 A.M.

In the Pentax forum (and I'd assume other forums as well), a subject like, "My friend asked me to shoot their wedding... HELP!" comes up on a regular basis. For someone who has never shot a wedding before, it can be a nerve racking experience. If you don't know what's going on or what to expect, you can easily miss the 'BIG' shots. While every photog has their own style, there are certain shots the clients may expect. There needs to be communication to make sure the photog and client are on the same page.

I appreciate this article because I think too many people are quick to suggest what EQUIPMENT you need and forget to suggest what KNOWLEDGE you need.

In a recent post, I commented that going to the rehearsal can be extreamly helpful. There are only a couple other photogs in my area that do this, but it is something I've always done and there are a lot of things I would have missed if I had not...

Bill McFadden , February 18, 2008; 10:27 A.M.

The article briefly summarizes the key elements. It is not designed to address the more detailed aspects of shooting a wedding but that is not the intention of this article. It is perfect advice for people like me, who has been asked to shoot at three of my brother/sister's weddings. (Irish Catholic family. Ten children, a varying number of dogs with an occasional cat added to the household.) The necessary group photos advice is gold. I wish I'd seen this website and particurly this article the first time I shot a relative's wedding. The group shots would have taken little time.

Brad Farwell , February 20, 2008; 07:57 A.M.

I'd also make sure you ask the venue-person and the B/MOB about flash during the ceremony. Many churches won't allow it, and many folks are against it because it's disruptive (I was in a wedding where the photographer/assistants were right up in the middle of the ceremony, under the little ceremonial tent, popping their flashes. Annoyed the hell out of me, and I was just a groomsman)

Depending on the venue (again, a good idea to check it out beforehand if you can) this might mean some extra quartz lights for the ceremony, a different approach (where can I stick my tripod) or even just asking the venue people about turning up the lights.

The advice about making nice with the venue people is golden; the person in charge of the church/hall/etc. can make your life a lot easier if they're on your side, from bending a rule to finding an outlet to unlocking a balcony. And, if you're planning on making this a business, you'll probably be working with them again.

I also tape a (6-pt font) list of everybody's name and role on the back of my flash. This way I can call the grandfather Mr. Williams instead of "hey you." If you're as good at remembering names as I am, it's a real lifesaver.

Craig Fox , February 20, 2008; 08:02 P.M.

Nicely arranged and loaded with details Josh. Thanks for sharing. The last piece of advice about the names on the flash is so simple yet a brilliant piece of advice. I will give that a try. Thanks Brad. I've been known to struggle with that to the point where it can interfere with results and I've been shooting weddings for more than ten years. You know, all the way back when film was more than what you find on your camera lcd the day after a 10 hour wedding shoot.

Mike King , February 22, 2008; 12:16 P.M.

A few bits to add:

#1 Make sure the couple, etc. get a list of proposed shots (or make their own list), surprising how often they will have a desired pose not on your list--example would be a pose similar to what Mom and Dad had done way back when--or a pose they just hate and loath. Also gives them a chance to relate the family dynamics and potential problems. And a chance for you to explain that the poses on your list are only suggestions and that you do not guarantee that every pose will be taken and that it depends a lot on everyone being available on time (and cooperating--especially youngsters) for the photo session.

#2 Suggest that they get someone that knows everyone to be the stage manager to round up people when it is time to pose them, not a good idea to put that on anyone that is in the wedding party, they will have enough stress from the event, no need to add to their stress levels.

#3 If it's a church or venue you haven't worked before it's a very good idea to take time to drive over and personally introduce yourself to the clergy before the day of ceremony to go over ground rules, do not assume that since Father/Pastor/Rabbi "X" allows flash/tripod/ceremony/(whatever) shots that Father/Pastor/Rabbi "Y" will have the same preferences. Remember it's God's house and a sacrament in many faiths. It's also professional courtesy since you and the pastor are both in the wedding service industry.

#4 Always photograph the cake alone, the musicians, singers, floral arrangements...and send them a small print and a note, you never know when you might get a referral.

Bakari Chavanu , February 25, 2008; 06:44 P.M.

Great list. I agree that wedding photography is indeed an art, but there's no reason not to have a plan on paper in and in your head.

A follow-up to this article would be a workflow plan for post-wedding production. I've found that if I don't constantly develop a post-production workflow, I will lose money. I've written out a post-production workflow that I'd be willing to share. Can anyone post articles to this site?

Also, I would add, and maybe the article points this out, that you want to shoot photos with an album in mind. Put some thoughts into your album designs and then be sure to shoot photos that will help you create those designs.

dave shipman , February 27, 2008; 12:46 P.M.

This is all great info. I know you can't be too prepared in a wedding shoot, it's virtually impossible to have a redo should something go wrong.

I hope I'm not too off topic in this but I wanted to tell the tale of my first wedding shoot. I was as prepared as I could possibly be: I was using film cameras, Mamiya 645 (2 bodies and 6 film inserts - 2 120 and 4 220). I had all my 220 inserts loaded - one of the 120 inserts was loaded with 800 speed film for doing some inside shots in low light. I had lists of poses to get, check lists of equipment, things to check. I brought 2 posing stools, a big reflector, 2 portable strobes. I have a series of video tapes on shooting location portraiture that says to bring things like tape, plastic bags (different colored trash bags), blankets, a broom, a stape gun. I even shot a test roll and had my film processing company check it out, the body got a clean bill of health. I mean I was prepared. Discussions with the bride and groom ahead of time so I knew exactly what to expect. I had my list of shots, I even put velcro tape on the camera body and stuck notes to it to remind me to keep track of exposure, point of focus, framing - I really didn't want to screw this up. They knew this was my first wedding shoot - and I was only charging my cost, I wanted experience.

Unfortunately, nothing went as planned. The wedding was to be outside. The bride and groom had promised to be ready for portraits 2 1/2 to 3 hours before the service - when I arrived the groom wasn't even there. I wandered around the house (the brides parents home) for an hour and 15 minutes while the Bride got dressed. I wasn't allowed to take pics of the bride getting ready, it was apparently not appropriate. The groom finally showed up so I started shooting pics in a really nice spot in the back yard - I had plenty of time to pick it out. I shot pics of the groom, the groomsmen and the groom's family. I got word the bride wasn't going to be ready for pictures until after the service. I gathered my equipment up and as I moving up to where the service was to be, the bride met me and said "I'm ready for pictures!!" Back I went to that really nice spot in the back yard. This was a really nice shoot - the bride was very pretty, very nice dress. Lots of pics with the bride and her party but what I didn't notice was all the pocket digital cameras looking over my shoulder. Eventually right next to my tripod and one really tall guy was literally standing over my camera - he liked my spot I guess. Everytime I posed and popped a shot about 25 BEEP's went off. Then before I went back to pose the bride again - more "Wait - that one didn't come out, click BEEP, click BEEP" .. etc. It got to be pretty humorous. Then the service. It lasted about 7 minutes. Then back for more portraits - this time with the entire family. Lots more pics. Lots more BEEPing too.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself when I was taking the pictures, that turned into anxiety while I waited on the photo processing. I opted to have the negatives scanned during processing and when I got the phone call from the scanning specialist saying there were a 'few frame problems' I became a bit concerned. When I saw the results, I was horrified. My main camera body had shot craps - frame overlaps in almost every roll. From a few to a whole bunch. I brought 2 full 220 propacks (300 shots) and a few more mismatched rolls that added up to about another 180 shots. I didn't shoot it all - something like 420 pictures, but of what I did shoot, I had less than 200 pics that turned out. And I even shot a test roll with this very camera body (my main) and had it processed at the same processing company just a few days before the wedding.

I guess the morale of the story is, no matter how much preparation, things can still go wrong. But I still had fun, and hope to do more weddings but I think I'll try digital next time...

René Purwin , February 27, 2008; 02:51 P.M.

Many thanks to Josh and all the commentators. I guess, we all know, this can only be act as a guideline with suggestions and not as a timetable to be strictly followed. And, as Dave so vividly described, the equipment may play another part in the act. (I attended my first wedding with just 1 camera body, which broke down before the ceremony even had begun... since that day I always have two main bodies + a spare with me...) But it is a very valuable guide, which I will use as a refernce, just to make sure, I haven't overlooked the seemingly obvious. There are so many things to care about for a wedding shoot.

Christine Mitchell , February 27, 2008; 04:46 P.M.

Thanks Josh, this is a great article. A friend of mine has asked me to shoot her low budget wedding this year. I warned her I'm an amateur and I'm doing it for free. This will be very helpful to go over with her so I don't miss anything she'd like. And the other tips were great too. Thanks to everyone for sharing your knowledge.

dave shipman , February 28, 2008; 10:07 A.M.

Christine - when I was asked to do the shoot, I had 'apprenticed' with another person many times as a photographers assistant so though it was my first wedding shoot, I had some prior experience. I did have lists of pictures to take but what I discovered is the list became more of a check list - circumstances said I couldn't take pics in the order or sequence I had put down. When I was posing the groom and his family, the groomsmen, etc, I looked at the list and made sure I had taken at least those poses I had noted in the list. There were about 100 or so individual shots and poses on the list but I took over 400 pictures.

Make sure you're checking eyes while you take the picture, take the same shot again if anyone blinks, moves, flinches etc. This saved me in my experience, many of the poses I shot was taken more than once. There was a better chance that at least one would come out. Spend more time composing the shot - posing people, checking exposure, shadows, etc. Check the background to make sure it's not distracting - in my case it was in the shadow of a HUGE tree, even though it was outside and sunny, the shadow allowed me to keep aperature wide so the background was very nicely blurred. Don't forget some filters - diffusion and star for special shots. Another thing I learned - diffusion can make a normal shot look awsome but don't overdo it.

I had a BALL, I love taking pictures, if it wasn't for my equipment failure it would have been a nearly perfect experience. And remember, a well composed shot taken with a cheap camera will always out do a poorly composed shot taken with high end equipment.

And as far as doing it for free, you should at least charge enough to cover your expenses - unless it's a wedding gift. But be careful, expenses can very quicly add up if you're going to have a set of proofs done. Even if you're going to do it on your home printer, a hundred images on good photo quality paper, plus ink, it can add up.

Best of luck!!

Nathan Simmons , March 01, 2008; 12:30 P.M.

great info, especially for a lot of "beginner" photographers who need help to get started

Tara Jones , April 06, 2008; 10:45 A.M.

This has been a great article for me to read! I have been asked to go to FL to shoot for a friend's wedding. Other than some informal shots at my best friend's wedding, I have never done any wedding pictures. With any luck, I will actually be able to make it down there to do this for my friend, and I can tell you, this article will be printed out and referred to over and over again.

Thank you SO much!

Ric Marder , April 13, 2008; 09:42 P.M.

So glad to have seen this on the sidebar. I have my first wedding in two weeks, and although i've been doing plenty of research - this timeline will help me to not miss anything.

Excellent contribution Josh. Thank u much.

Manuel Arzate , April 25, 2008; 02:28 A.M.

Hey Ric tell us how it went with your first wedding how all the info in the articles helped prepare you! Also, good luck buddy I can only imagine how nerve racked you may get more so than the B/G and their parents!!! Please tell us of any lessons learned.

God Bless.

Christine Barrette , April 25, 2008; 09:18 P.M.

Thanks Josh. This list is a gold mine for a beginner like me and should help me very much on my first wedding contract in June. And, if there is anyone that took these advices for their first wedding shots , it would be very nice to tell us how everything gone....

Rob Holz , May 19, 2008; 10:36 P.M.

What a wonderful guideline. I've been asked to do a friend's wedding a couple of months from now, and I haven't the first clue where to start. I'm sure there will be different demands, but it will be a big help knowing what the basic structure might involve.

Amy Christensen , June 04, 2008; 09:48 P.M.

Doing my 1st wedding on Saturday, WEEEEEE! I have referred to this article over and over again and the list of shots served to set the groundwork for the repertoire of shots I hope to get. Thanks so much PN for the wealth of information made available to us here!

Pete Shulver , October 21, 2008; 05:15 P.M.

Forgive me if i have missed somthing here but i did not see any mention of a visit to the wedding site /Church etc prior to the event .I am pretty new to this game but I always make a full check of the venue and take basic light readings, look for any problem areas etc .Where is North? Nasty backgrounds to avoid! Back entrance to the Church. It all helps so you don't get any real surprises .

Pete Shulver

Sheri Johnson , November 03, 2008; 11:34 A.M.

I think this is a great list. No, you don't have to do everything on it AND you can still be creative in making the images.

Le Trinh , December 10, 2008; 03:56 P.M.

This article is what I'm looking for. It's very helpfull to me. Thanks alot Josh

John Crowe , December 22, 2008; 02:10 P.M.

When I was shooting weddings I always asked on the day of the wedding if there were any special groupings or individuals that the parent, bride, groom would like pictures of. There are sometimes special people in someones life that may not be obvious to an outsider and it doesn't hurt to ask. Many times that particular wedding is the last time all those family members will be together. Grandparents often play a big role in someones life.

elle advincula , December 29, 2008; 04:09 P.M.

Thank you for this article. It covers a whole lot of info and very helpful for someone going into wedding photography. It will serve as a guide for me on my first wedding experience.

Sledd Photo , January 05, 2009; 01:39 P.M.

One of the major problems with this time line is that it would require the photographer to be in multiple places at once. And this list of suggest formals looks like it would take an hour or two.

Natalia Irena , January 29, 2009; 08:07 P.M.

Wonderful timeline. This is a great tool for any photographer who would like to get into wedding photography and have an idea of a time line. This outlines things very well and thank you so much for all the help!

Byron Arnao , April 12, 2009; 03:31 P.M.

Excellent timeline/template great reference... I've been thinking about putting something like this together to make sure I get everything ....

Joanna Kapica , June 14, 2009; 08:14 P.M.

Great article- thank you so much! I will be shooting wedding soon and I was already making a list of my own- this helps me to make sure I've got everything covered.

Lena Messana , July 19, 2009; 12:12 P.M.

GREAT ARTICLE! I loved it! I am actually gearing up to do my first real wedding as the sole photog. (low budget non professional type) I have been to so many before, and have literally been told I take better pics than the hired help. It is still nerve wracking to me, and while I already have asked the bride for a list of pics she wants, and I have an idea already of what to do... a checklist will be with me. This list is a great guide to make sure nothing important is left out! While the creative stuff just happens depending on weather, the couple and group, and scenery, and those shots will be a big +, it will be good to know I am prepared with the formal stuff! I already had the bride going to take pics of the reception area since I live three hours away too!

Also, I canont remember who right now, but great ideas to go to the rehearsal dinner. I should be there the night before, so hopefully they do it then! :)

And definitely, those who had weddings they were saying they were going to do above...HOW DID THEY GO?


Stephen Asprey , August 12, 2009; 07:45 P.M.

Great article Josh. I wonder why wedding photographer novices that post questions on the forums, don't read this article first. I also don't know whay people spend up to $150 per head on a reception, that they skimp on a quality pro photographer. Surely its critical to get the best result as its a once in a lifetime event for most people. My grandfather was one of our best wedding photographers and was shooting large format right to his retirement in the 60s. I can just remember him shooting my cousins wedding when I was in my early teens. He had a 4x5 on a heavy timber tripod and he could sweep the whole thing up and get in a new position, frame and shoot as fast as any one today. He never used a light meter. He just knew by looking at the shadows and mid tones. He used to always slightly underexpose so he could correct in the darkroom. I remember he used to say this about exposures: You bring them up later, but its much harder to bring them down. He taught my late father who was also very well known. He passed on to me that the most important things were these: 1. Do not compromise on lighting. Use flash if you need to. 2. Always capture the emotional moments: At the church: The bride being given away by her father, the lifting of the veil, the kiss, the emerging from the church. At the reception: The bridal waltz, the bride and her father, the final group...the couple with their parents, bridesmaids and groomsmen. This is the one that people usually put on the mantelpiece as it captures in one shot, the most important people in the couple's lives. 3. Take the shots with the flow of events, so when viewed, they tell the story from before the wedding day, right through to when the couple leave the reception and the farewell.

I enjoy your advice, Josh, and also your words in the film forum.

Pam Rauber , January 27, 2010; 01:35 P.M.

Now that wedding season is nearing, here is another tip added to so many here. Make an acronym for remembering important things to do on your camera. If anyone has ever read books from Scott Kelby, his acronym is WHIMS

W = White Balance., H = Highlight On., I = ISO Setting., M = Mode as in Camera Mode, S-A-M., S = Size of Image

I now use this after I shot a wedding with a high ISO, forgetting I had pushed it from the previous time I used my camera. I do this acronym the night before when I get all my gear cleaned and ready for the next day. One last tip. When you get in the car before you start the engine...close your eyes and breathe. Tell yourself you completed your task of readiness and the rest will fall into place. Don't breathe too many times or you might relax and fall asleep. Happy shooting in 2010.

Hosteen Yendikeno , February 16, 2010; 01:31 P.M.

Although this article has been published for some time, I just stumbled across it. I am not a wedding photographer, but like Christine Mitchell, have been asked to shoot a friend's low budget, no frills wedding. Great article for me to make sure I cover all I have to. Thank you, Josh!

Boyd M , March 09, 2010; 06:26 A.M.

Well done. Wonderful knowledge there, excellent and thorough advice. Useful for beginners and for the experienced photographer.

Meydad Feldman , October 04, 2010; 01:13 A.M.

@ Matthew's comment one of the most important things to do ( as you said) go to the rehearsal.. Do everything you can not to miss it. Not only that you learn how to get to the place you learn the object there, best angles, lights and shades, time line, you meat the rest of the family and you know who is who and you come to the wedding with such confidence that you wouldn't have otherwise. And why confidence is Important? It leaves you a lot on your mind to use your creativity rather than find sollutions for situations.

Stephen McPherson , January 30, 2013; 03:40 P.M.

This is by far the best. most comprehensive and concise list-timeline for shooting a wedding I have seen. Being prepared, organized and in control allows you to easily adapt to any last minute changes or mitigating circumstances. More importantly it allows you to be more creative during your shooting because your more relaxed - you crossed all the "T's" and dotted all the "I's" - now all you have to do is what you really enjoy - shoot!

PS - Although I shoot digital in the main with a spare digital body, I always bring along a film camera as a spare. Besides sometimes its nice to go "old school" once in a while for a few shots.

Andrea Ghilardelli , February 22, 2013; 12:05 P.M.

Greatest list ever! I didn't find anything so detailed elsewhere. Just what I was looking for. Thank you for sharing.

Angela Morgan , December 17, 2013; 02:03 P.M.

This is helpful for new photographers and also it is helpful for wedding photographers. they can learn so many things from this article.....i really appreciate it

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Athini Photos , January 24, 2014; 03:11 A.M.

Really from the professional point of view it is preferable to flee from customers who are hesitant to consider hiring an amateur or a professional since insurance did not value your work. It is always better to work professionally with clients who value what you do and do not look further problems. It's too much risk and responsibility as the time to put them in the hands of an amateur. While everyone is free to do what you want, is just an opinion. A greeting.

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