How to Make Your Photography Timeline

How to Make Your Photography Timeline

Leading up to the wedding day, I work closely with my clients to ensure that their photography runs without a hitch. We chat through every single photo request, their family tree, wedding party details and event timeline so that I have as much information as possible going into their day. This allows my clients to relax and know that we’ve got them covered on the photography end. Because I get so many photography timeline questions, I decided to share my words of wisdom with you all today. Artistrie clients – I hope you find this helpful! If you are engaged and working with a different photographer, these notes can still be helpful to you. Keep in mind that every photographer works differently and may have different time preferences. Enjoy!

Getting Ready

For bridal preparations, I like to be there a minimum of 1.5 hours. My brides are typically very detail oriented and love to have photos of their dress, flowers and accessories. The 1.5 hour timeframe gives me enough time to capture those details, plus candids of the girls and the bride getting dressed. For the men, my second shooter is typically with them for about 1 hour. Before the groom gets dressed, we usually capture a few details like his cufflinks, tie, boutonniere, shoes and jacket. From there, we document the men buttoning their shirts, fastening their cufflinks, and putting on their jackets, all while usually cracking some jokes and having a few whiskey or beer toasts.

First Look

If you opt to do a first look together with your spouse, I generally recommend planning to start that about 2.5-3 hours before the start of your ceremony. In most cases, this will provide you with enough time to take photos with your soon-to-be husband or wife, wedding party, and family members all before the celebration begins. The bonus to taking all your pictures before the start of the ceremony? You get to enjoy every single second of your cocktail hour! And believe me, you deserve all the cocktails.

Travel Time

If you’ll be traveling at any point during your day, whether it be for portraits or en route to the reception, cushion in extra time for traffic. This is especially important if your wedding will be taking place in Chicago. I always tell my clients to double the anticipated driving times to each location. If Google Maps tells you 15 minutes, plan for 30. With street and music festivals, baseball games and tourism in full force during the summer, expect the traffic. I like to plan for the worst case scenario, so that even in the worst traffic, we won’t be stressed for time. Best case scenario? Traffic will be a breeze and you’ll have extra time to enjoy the day and take fun pictures with your wedding party.

Relax Before the Ceremony

Don’t plan to be taking portraits minutes up until walking down the aisle. As a general rule of thumb, I plan to be done with any posed portraits about 1 hour before the ceremony begins. This gives the bride, groom, wedding party and families a chance to relax and freshen up before the festivities. This also gives us some extra cushion time, in case anything runs late leading up to the ceremony. We use the time before your ceremony to prep our equipment, capture the ceremony space empty before guests arrive, and candids of the excitement leading up to you walking down the aisle.

Photos After the Ceremony

If you are doing all of your portraits after the ceremony, I recommend starting with your family pictures immediately following the ceremony. I generally budget 30 minutes for family pictures. From there, we’ll dive into wedding party pictures for the next 45-60 minutes, if time is allotted. I usually save the last 15-20 minutes to photograph the couple alone in order to capture beautiful, relaxed portraits of the newlyweds. Again, these times are approximate and aren’t figuring in any travel plans or multiple locations. If you are squeezing in all of your portraits during cocktail hour, be prepared to move fast.


Because our brides dedicate so much of their planning into the design of their weddings, capturing the reception details is always a must. To accomplish this, we need to photograph the room while it’s empty and candles lit. Generally the best time for us to take these detail photos happens during cocktail hour or before the room officially opens to your guests.


During the reception, our priority is to capture all of the formal events and the laughs, tears and hugs in between. We plan to be there long enough to capture every toast, your first dance, the parent dances, cake cutting and any other formal event you have planned. In addition to this, we like to be there for the first 30-60 minutes of open dance to capture the party and celebration! After that first hour, we usually have plenty of pictures of everyone on the dance floor and only stay longer if you have an exciting exit planned for the end of the night.


I hope this was helpful! Clients – I will always get in touch with you about 4-6 weeks before the wedding day to schedule a time for us to meet and walk through your whole wedding day. Call or email me anytime beforehand with questions. Happy to help!


Have a question?

Reach out to Ashley today and let's start planning the perfect photography experience for your wedding, boudoir or portrait session.

Email: ashley@artistrieco.com