Wedding Day Photography and Videography Timeline Planning

How to plan your wedding photography timeline

Planning your wedding can be both exciting and overwhelming. There are so many details to consider! My goal as your photographer (and/or videographer!) is for you to enjoy your day to the fullest while we capture amazing memories. This includes planning in advance to ensure that your day is as stress free as possible. I like to have a solid plan, while also being open to spontaneity or last-minute changes. Life happens, even on wedding days! With a good plan in place, we can roll with the punches as they come with no sweat.

Some couples may have a planner or coordinator to help them manage the timeline of events. Others may be on their own or with the help of a close family member or friend. In any situation, I’m here to help you plan your day hour-by-hour. After over a decade of shooting weddings, I’ve learned some tricks of the trade that will take some weight off your shoulders.

When you book with me, I’m here to guide you through the entire wedding planning process. I’ll send you a pre-wedding questionnaire about two months before your date to help me gather the information I need to best capture your day. After that, we’ll have our final video call to go through all the details of your day. I’m always available in between to help with any questions you may have.

Below is a sample wedding day timeline from a real wedding. This wedding took place in May, had the ceremony and reception on site, and the couple chose a first look. Of course, each wedding is unique and I encourage every couple to do what’s best for them. I will always make recommendations, but I don’t believe in telling you what to do for your own wedding. I also love it when couples choose to mix it up and break tradition. I’m simply here to guide you and support you throughout your day so that it is meaningful to you.

A note on first looks

As a photographer, I generally recommend a first look because it allows us more time for portraits before the ceremony. With a first look, you will typically be able to enjoy more of your cocktail hour, instead of using that time for photos. In my experience, doing a first look doesn’t take away from the moment of walking down the aisle. Instead, it adds even more time for you and your new spouse to be together and enjoy your day. That being said, I will never pressure you do to a first look if you don’t want to! We will be able to capture amazing photos with or without it.

Here is an example of a real wedding day timeline with some additional details on each part of the day:

1:30-2:30pm: Girls getting ready 

Ideally, hair and makeup is wrapping up as photo and video arrives. We start out shooting your details like rings, flowers, invitations, perfume, jewelry, dress, shoes, etc. Then we capture you and your crew hanging out, before and after getting changed into your dresses. We’ll do a mix of portraits and candids to help you feel relaxed and ready to go into your day. It’s best to have your wedding suite tidied up before we arrive so that there is minimal clutter.

2:30-3:00pm: Guys getting ready

If you have them, we’ll capture details like your cologne, suit, boutonniere, tie, shoes, etc. You and your crew should be mostly dressed when we arrive, and we’ll do the finishing touches together. We’ll capture you adding your cufflinks, tie, shoes, etc. We’ll even help you all attach your boutonnieres! A mix of portraits and candids will perfectly capture the vibe heading into the wedding day. Again, a quick tidy before we arrive will help your photos and videos look the best.

3:00-4:30pm: First look and portraits 

After scouting the perfect location, we’ll begin with just you and your partner (although some couples choose to have the wedding party watch their first look). We’ll capture your first look as well as some portraits of the two of you, both together and individually. Next, we’ll bring in the wedding party for group photos along with any immediate family members who may be in the wedding. This is one of my favorite parts of the day!

4:30-5:00pm: Prep for ceremony 

I recommend having at least half an hour before your ceremony to freshen up and relax after photos. This also gives us the time we need to set up all our equipment, including audio equipment and tripods for video.

5:00-5:30pm: Ceremony 

Most wedding ceremonies tend to be about half an hour long. We’ll review any special details you may have planned during your ceremony to ensure we capture all the real emotions.

5:30-6:00pm: Family portraits 

After your ceremony, it’s best to tell your extended family to stick around for photos before heading to cocktail hour. We’ll work together to create a list of groupings to make the process as smooth as possible. As long as everyone is in the right place at the right time, we can do all your formal photos easily in 30 minutes!

5:30-6:30pm: Cocktail hour

The hard part is over! You get to greet your guests and mingle at cocktail hour. We’ll use this time to set up our lighting and audio equipment for the reception as well as capture some candids and details during cocktail.

6:30pm: Reception begins

At the reception, we typically coordinate with your DJ or MC on what the exact order of events will be so that we don’t miss a thing. Here’s an example of how a reception timeline may go:

Introductions of the wedding party and couple

Couple’s first dance 

Parent dances 

Speeches / Toasts

7:00-7:30pm: Dinner

We truly appreciate the chance to eat a real meal and get off our feet for a few minutes. If we are served while everyone else is eating, we won’t miss any moments and we’ll be ready to go again as you and your guests are finishing your meals. Some couples will also do a silent/private cake cutting right after dinner.

7:30-8:00pm: Golden hour portraits

Sunset time varies with the seasons, but I always like to plan for golden hour wherever possible. It won’t take long for us to sneak away from the reception and take advantage of the perfect sunset lighting.

8:00-9:30pm: Open dancing

Party time! This is all candids and time for us to capture you and your guests having a blast. Whether you have a DJ or a live band, we love to be there on the dance floor with you.

9:30pm: Photo and video leaves

We say goodbye and thank you for sharing your big day with us! You get to continue partying all night long!

I hope this example is helpful as you plan your wedding day timeline! Weddings come in all forms and this is just one idea of how the day might be structured. Working together, we can plan your day in a way that honors your vision and traditions while keeping everything as stress-free as possible.

Kat and Evan’s Center City Micro Wedding at Vaux Studio

Vaux Studio is an intimate micro wedding venue located in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Philadelphia. I may be biased because I live just a couple blocks away. Housed in an historic Philly rowhome with classic charm, Vaux feels just like like home but better. I was so excited to photograph this day with Katherine, Evan, and their closest family and friends. 

Kat and Evan met while working as computer scientists at the Navy Yard and have two adorable little boys. They were already married during the pandemic, but missed out on some of the traditions that were important to them. Kat was so excited to finally wear her wedding dress and celebrate formally with their closest family and friends. When I asked what part of their wedding they were most excited about, they said, “To finally have one!”

Their ceremony was short and sweet and officiated by Vaux’s own Monica Welsh, who is just amazing in her planning and execution of the entire day. The room where the ceremony is held has two giant wooden doors that can close off the space for a more intimate feel, and allow for a surprise grand entrance of the bride after all the guests are seated. At the front of the room are two large windows that flood the space with natural light.

Vaux is located in the heart of the city, making it so easy to take a quick stroll around the neighborhood after the ceremony for portraits. There’s no shortage of beautiful locations nearby, including the iconic shot on South Broad Street (also called Avenue of the Arts) with Philadelphia City Hall in the background. I could easily spend all day just wandering around taking photos, but alas, we had to be back to Vaux in time for dinner! Thankfully we did not have to walk far at all.

During cocktail hour, the team at Vaux seamlessly flips the ceremony space for dinner. The room was just gorgeous and ready for us when we got back from our portrait session. Kat and Evan chose to do a private cake cutting before opening the room for their guests. Their intimate reception was complete with beautiful toasts and delicious food. The venue is also steps away from the Midtown Village and Gayborhood areas, full of incredible restaurants and bars, which means that an after party is right around the corner.

Bomee and Ivan’s Multicultural Philadelphia Wedding Celebration

Like many modern love stories, Bomee and Ivan’s began with a swipe on a dating app. In fact, Bomee was the one to make the first move on Hinge.

Bomee and Iván’s day was a beautiful mix of three cultures. Iván is from Colombia while Bomee was born in Korea and grew up in Philadelphia. Their ceremony took place at Antioch Church in a combination of English, Spanish, and Korean. While navigating these cultural differences, what has brought them together is their shared faith. Bomee is also fluent in Spanish  and even wrote her vows to Iván in his native language.

During the reception, Bomee mentioned that it was so beautiful to see a big room full of so many different cultures because it was what she envisions heaven to look like. One of my favorite parts of documenting weddings is learning about so many different cultures and religions and being able to capture the beauty of them all.

We did the first look a little differently, and with a lot less looking. Bomee and Iván wanted to pray together before the ceremony while saving the first look for the wedding aisle. The solution was to cover Ivan’s eyes with a tie! Seeing his reaction at the altar definitely made the blindfold worth it in the end.

Bomee and Iván also kept it simple with no wedding party, just a few immediate family members helping them prepare. I always encourage my couples to think outside the box and remind them that they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to just because tradition says they should. No wedding party allowed them to have more time together just the two of them, and they still were able to enjoy the company of all their guests during the reception. 

They went for a clean and simple look for their wedding decor, using all white flowers with touches of greenery. These details matched perfectly with Bomee’s satin bridal gown with a long veil and Ivan’s classic black tux. They also had a super fun bubble exit leaving the church on the way to their limo!

After the reception, we headed to the beautiful Stoneleigh Gardens for portraits. It was such an amazing location with so many places to take photos. I could have spent all day there! We were also so lucky with the weather, the clouds made the light very soft and it started to drizzle just as we were wrapping up!

The most meaningful part of any wedding is knowing that I was able to help the couple feel good on their day and to create something they will love forever. This sweet review from Bomee and Iván is beyond words!
“Becca is truly the best! We feel so blessed to have found her; she was just the right person for capturing our wedding! She is able to speak Spanish, which is my husband’s native language, and she made us feel so comfortable from the first conversation we had with her. The photos turned out simply beautiful, but what makes Becca a remarkable photographer is her ability to make people feel at ease and to roll with any situation thrown at her. Our wedding day didn’t go as scheduled, and the timing of everything was thrown off, but Becca made sure that we were able to get the shots we wanted and her calm and cool demeanor helped keep us relaxed as well - which in turn made the photos turn out even better! It was such a pleasure to work with Becca and we would highly recommend her to anyone looking for a photographer to capture their special day!”

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