WEDDING TIMELINE PLANNING GUIDE FOR A STRESS-FREE DAY

Boston Public Library wedding in Boston, MA by Boston wedding photographer Promessa Studios

 

We love planning.

We love timelines.

Part of why the weddings we photograph run so smoothly is because ~4 weeks before your wedding, we have a “Wedding Timeline Planning Meeting” to review all of the details. Until then, here’s a ton of information that hopefully will be useful for you!

 

Anna and Sean Boston Wedding Photography Promessa Studios Karen Eng

GETTING READY

Suggested photography time: 1.5 hours 
The preparation part of the day holds some of my favorite moments because there is such a variety in the “feels”! It may start with a casual moment of a mother and a bridesmaid chatting over coffee. In another room, there’s the serene calm of a makeup artist applying eyelashes to the bride. We like having an hour and a half because we’re able to observe and document some of these interactions, especially when emotions run high. Depending on the location, we’d also like to visit the groom to photograph him getting ready. If you opt for a 2nd photographer on the day of, you’ll also have full coverage on their side. Many of my couples enjoy seeing what their spouse was doing in the morning. Some hit the driving range. Some play board games. It all adds to the story of your day.
Tips:
  • Layout important details the night before – shoes, jewelry, invitations, hair pieces, etc. We’ll photograph them alone (in a still life style), as well as while people are interacting with them (ie: putting on hair pieces)
  • BUFFER: Leave 30-60 minutes as buffer time, just in case makeup and hair run late, if you’re having an issue pee-ing in a large dress, or if we need to make a coffee run. You’ll thank me later for the extra relaxation time.

 

FIRST LOOK – PRE-CEREMONY PORTRAITS

Suggested photography time: 1.5 hours
We like to break formals up into three sections: 30 minutes for an immediate family. 30 minutes for the bridal party. 30 minutes for the wedding couple. Feel free to invite grandparents and extended family to this First Look session. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy your cocktail hour and reception knowing that all of your obligatory family formals have already been checked off!
Tips:
  • If your family is often fashionably late (or APT: Asian People Time), We’d recommend you to tell them to get there 10-15 minutes earlier than when we actually start formally. 😉 (To the family – Yes, we’ve probably lied to you in the past. We love you.)

 

Popponesett Inn wedding in Mashpee, MA by Boston wedding photographer Promessa Studios

NO FIRST LOOK – PRE-CEREMONY PORTRAITS

Suggested photography time: 30 minutes
While at the Getting ready, we’d love to photograph a handful of formals so that we can maximize our use of post-ceremony portrait time. Photographing this list of formals before the ceremony, while in the getting ready location will save us lots of time.
Pre-ceremony portrait list:
  • Individuals – A beautiful portrait just the bride or groom by him/herself before the tears and hugs.
  • Bride + both parents, Bride + mom, Bride + dad, Bride + siblings  (same on the groom’s side)
  • Bride + all bridesmaids, Bride + each bridesmaid (same on the groom’s side)

 

Blue Hill Country Club wedding in Canton, MA by Boston wedding photographer Promessa Studios

COCKTAIL HOUR PORTRAITS

Suggested photography time: 1 hour 
If you choose to not have a first look, we’ll photograph your family portraits during cocktail hour.
Tips:
  • Identify “photo captain(s)”. This person will know the important people and will be loud enough to get people “on deck” for the next portrait. My assistant and I will hustle and arrange groups quickly, but we are unable to control your family members who are of waiting in line at the bar or in the bathroom. 🙂
  • 4 weeks before the wedding, we will work together to create a list of important groups to photograph. These groupings include extended family as well as specific groups of friends. When you create a group photo, ask yourself, “Will this photo be printed”? If it’s a yes, let’s add it. If it’s a no, then perhaps not.
  • It will take 4-5 minutes to photograph each group.
  • If you want your reception details photographed, it’s ideal to do this before your guests enter the room. 15 minutes is ideal for reception details.

 

Fairmont Copley wedding in Boston, MA by Boston wedding photographer Promessa Studios

RECEPTION

Suggested photography time: 3 hours (or 1.5 hours of dancing)
Tips:
  • If you are having a special “send off” (i.e.: bubbles, sparklers, etc.), it’ll be important to capture that. If not, then we prefer to stay for 1.5 hours of open dance floor after dinner has ended. After 1.5 hours, wedding dancing images start to look the same, except a bit sweatier.
  • *CONTROVERSIAL* we feel that we are most un-useful during dinner service. Most do not want me photographing them eating, so we usually sit in a corner somewhere and twiddle my thumbs. This is the controversial part: we would like to eat when my wedding couple eats, so we never miss a beat. Typically, vendors are served after the guests are all served. By that time, we really should be getting into speeches, parent dances, and cake cutting. Instead, the entire wedding is waiting for the photographers, videographers, DJ, and band to scarf down their food. When I’ve politely asked the venue to feed me at the same time, many venue managers stare at me blankly and say, “We’ll feed you after everyone else”. We’re sure they walk into the kitchen and tell their colleagues about the “entitled photographer”. =P Some of my couples have been successful at asking their venues to feed their photographers at the same time. Three of the main benefits is that your timeline will run more smoothly, your vendors will be ready to roll, and there will be more time for open dancing. We’re happy to talk more about this issue. It’s something that all photographers face, but do not mention.

 

NIGHT PORTRAITS – SUNSET, TWILIGHT, OR NIGHT PORTRAITS

Suggested amount of time: 10 minutes
We’d like to steal you away for 10 minutes when the light is beautiful. Typically, we’ll do this while your guests are eating so you’re not missing out on any dancing. These photographs will give us a completely separate feel than the portraits that we captured earlier. We often hear that couples love this 10 minute getaway, because they’re able to take a break from the reception and just be with each other. Some of my favorite epic portraits are taken during twilight when the sky lights up in a brilliant blue.

SAMPLE TIMELINE – AFTERNOON CEREMONY (FIRST LOOK) 

11:00-2:30 Getting ready (*Photographers arrive at 1:00pm)
2:30-4:00pm First look and Pre-ceremony portraits (Immediate family, Bridal party, Bride+Groom)
4:00-4:30pm Buffer time
4:30-5:00pm Transportation to Ceremony
5:00-6:00pm Ceremony
6:00-7:00pm Cocktail hour
7:00-11:00pm Reception (*Photographers leave at 10pm)

SAMPLE TIMELINE – DAYTIME CEREMONY (NO FIRST LOOK)

10:00-1:00 Getting ready (*Photographers arrive at 11:30am)
1:00-2:00pm Pre-ceremony portraits (Immediate family, Bridal party, Bride+Groom)
2:00-2:30pm Buffer time
2:30-3:00pm Transportation to Ceremony
3:00-4:00pm Ceremony
4:00-4:30pm Transportation to Reception
4:30-5:30pm Portraits at the Reception venue
4:30-5:30pm Cocktail hour
5:30-9:30pm Reception (*Photographers leave at 8:30pm)

 

Blue Hill Country Club wedding in Canton, MA by Boston wedding photographer Promessa Studios

 

SAMPLE TIMELINE – ASIAN WEDDING WITH DOUBLE TEA CEREMONY

4:30-9:00am Getting ready (*Photographers arrive at 7:30am)
9:00-9:30am Door Games/Buffer time
9:30-10:30am Tea Ceremony #1 and Family portraits
10:30-11:00 Transportation to next Tea Ceremony #2
11:00-12:00pm Tea Ceremony #2 and Family portraits
12:00-2:00pm Lunch and Getting ready (part 2 – Western outfits – white wedding dress)
2:00-3:30pm Portraits (in Western outfits)
4:00-5:00pm Western ceremony
5:00-6:00 Cocktail Hour
6:00-11:00pm Reception starts (*Photographers leave at 9 pm)

SAMPLE TIMELINE – HINDU WEDDING

5:00-9:00am Getting ready (*Photographers arrive at 7:00am)
9:00-10:00am Baraat // Photograph mandap
10:00-1:00pm Hindu ceremony (part 1)
1:00pm-2:00pm Portraits (Immediate family, Bridal party, Bride+Groom) // Guests eat lunch
2:00-4:00pm Getting ready (part 2) // Bride + Groom change into reception outfit
4:00-5:30pm Portraits (part 2)
5:30-6:00 Photograph details
6:00-7:00pm Cocktail hour
7:00-12:00pm Reception (*Photographers leave at 10:00pm or after the Vidai Ceremony)