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I shot my first wedding in October 2006. Back then, I simply hoped for the best. Hoped the wedding wasn't delayed, hoped the family members remained nearby for formal pictures and hoped I received a timeline for the day in advance. I'll never forget the terror of standing outside—in a garden—after my first wedding on a pitch-black night for the family formal pictures.
It was so dark I couldn't get my camera to focus. I actually resorted to having my assistant hold a flashlight on the wedding party just to provide enough light to get my camera to fire.
I redefined awesome.
After that experience, I realized how important it was for me to address a wedding day timeline in advance. Namely, using my experience (you know, all ONE wedding I had tucked under my belt) to best prepare my clients for an optimal photographic experience. This meant discussing my clients' desires weeks in advance and offering guidance if the bride was inclined. This was of tantamount importance if a wedding coordinator was not involved with the planning, as the ebb and flow of the day is controlled by the wedding photographer.
In 2007, I photographed 38 weddings and—through trial and error—created what I think is an optimal timeline. Now, this is just my opinion. Everyone works differently, but I've discovered I'm able to balance my clients' desires as well as my creative desires adhering to the following timeline.
2:00 p.m. Photography begins
Details photographed (wedding dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, bouquet, etc)
Last-minute hair and makeup touch-ups
Candid photos of the bridesmaids preparing
3:00 p.m. Bride dresses
Candids of bride with mom and bridesmaids
3:30 p.m. First Look
Bride and groom see each other before the ceremony for photos
4:00 p.m. Bridal-party pictures
Bride with her bridesmaids, group and solo photos
Groom with his groomsmen, group and solo photos
4:30 p.m. Bride gets tucked away from early arriving guests
Photographers shoot ceremony details and cocktail hour location, if available
5:00 p.m. Ceremony
5:30 p.m. Ceremony Ends
5:40 p.m. Family pictures
6:10 p.m. Sunset photos with bride and groom
6:25 p.m. Photograph reception details
6:45 p.m. Grand entrance
6:55 p.m. First dance
7:00 p.m. Welcome and prayer, if applicable
7:15 p.m. First course served
7:30 p.m. Toasts
7:45 p.m. Second course served
8:15 p.m. Father/daughter... mother/son dance
8:25 p.m. Open dancing
9:30 p.m. Cake cutting
9:40 p.m. Bouquet/garter toss
10:00 p.m. Photography coverage concludes
As I mentioned before, everyone works differently and there's no such thing as a perfect approach. I wrote this blog post because I wish I had something to consult when I first started photographing weddings. I made many mistakes, but I learned from each of them, and I used them to build my business. Most importantly, simply go out of your way to ensure you're on the same page with the bride. Your experience, your client's experience and the overall flow of the day will be amazing if everyone knows what to expect.
I'll be discussing more about how I started my business, shooting tips, as well as shooting a LIVE wedding starting Wednesday, August 25, 2010. The FREE five-day online course will by hosted by creativeLIVE and I look forward to connecting with you on the Web if you're interested in wedding photography. Hope to see you there!
Jasmine Star left law school and started her business in 2006. The joy and fulfillment she receives in documenting the most special moments on a wedding day compare to nothing else. For more of Jasmine's unique point of view, go to Jasmine-Star.com.