Creating your Wedding Photography Timeline

Welcome to #WeddingWednesday

Hello! #WeddingWednesday is a space created for education and exchange of ideas on topics related to Puerto Rico, wedding timelines, wedding photography, and weddings in Puerto Rico. Here you'll find a very broad range of information on stuff I think will help you plan a better wedding in Puerto Rico, and have proper expectations for it.

One of the most stressful things about planning a wedding is creating a timeline that works for the couple, guests, and vendors. Too many times, my clients come with expectations of what their photos can look like, but with a timeline that doesn't allow enough time nor gives the best sunlight available.

So, with that struggle in mind, I'll share with you the same information I share with every one of my clients. This is, of course, pertinent to my style of work and you should always consult other vendors and a planner for additional logistics not related to your wedding photography.

Solar Time in Puerto Rico and what does it have to do with my Wedding Photos?

For a natural light, outdoor wedding photographer like me, sunlight is directly related to the quality of the light and therefore, the quality of the images I'm able to capture for my clients. This is why I always recommend planning a wedding ceremony start time relative to the sunset time (or sunrise, if it is a morning wedding).

Sunlight is softer and more flattering for portraits in the hours following sunrise, or the hours straight before sunset. This becomes of even more important in the tropics: since we're so close to the Equator, there are fewer steps between harsh light and complete darkness. During the summertime, sunset in Puerto Rico happens around 7 pm. During the "winter" time (although we don't have that type of season), the evening can start as early as 5:45 pm.

For calculating sunset time, and the best time to have photos, the nerd in me uses Time and Date website as a source. Geography class wasn't that useless at all, huh?

It all Starts with the Ceremony Time

A month before the wedding day, when most details are set and vendors booked, I send out a questionnaire, so I know everything there is to know about what makes each wedding special. The two constraints in every timeline are the Ceremony time and the Reception two hours later. That's why it is SO essential setting the Ceremony time at an appropriate moment of the day. Everything else will be determined by it.

If it's a traditional wedding where all photos will happen after the ceremony, the ceremony start time should be at least two hours before sunset, so we have enough time for photographing every part of the day.

Timelines are always flexible enough to account for the unpredictable stuff (like weather), but there are some predictable factors that will affect the timeline's length and order as well:

Getting Ready Photos

I usually reserve 1.5-2 hours for the getting ready photos. It is recommended that both of you stay at the same hotel/house, to make the logistics of capturing the getting ready session easier. Also, if there's nothing happening, or there's a delay in one of the rooms, I can just move to the other one.

First Look and Group Photos Prior to the Ceremony

On the other hand, if you're interested in having your photos done before the Ceremony, including a first look session, the Ceremony should start later in the day, about one hour before sunset, so the couple photos happen in soft, flattering sunlight.

Multiple Locations

Multiple locations add on to the wedding drama and driving adds length to every part of the wedding, so I suggest keeping the sites to a minimum. Driving time, traffic, and special activities of the day are taken into consideration when establishing the photography timeline.

Decor Pictures and Newlywed Photos before Reception

Most couples opt for having their newlywed photos during the cocktail time, so as not to add additional time before the ceremony just for pictures. We'll have less than an hour for photos and if wanted outdoors, should happen before sunset.

Group formal photos are usually done right after the ceremony because guests are already sitting there in front of the altar, so it's just a matter of calling them out in order. Each group photo takes 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the guests' cooperation and the size of the group.

After the group photos are done, designate a person to escort guests into the cocktail area so that newlywed photos can happen quickly and without interruption. After the newlywed photos are done, I rush to the reception area, where I'll take all the decor photos before the guests walk in. After the decor photos are done, my work is reduced to capturing the reception as it happens, so the timeline can take any form it wants. 🙂

Wedding Photo Timeline Samples

I know by now you must be very confused and won't know where to start, I'm sharing my most common timelines below, so you have a better idea of what I've talked about in this blog post. These itineraries are just guidelines, and they do not account for driving time to multiple locations, which also add to the duration of each part.

Photography Timeline for a Summer Wedding with Photos After Ceremony

  • 3:30pm- Getting Ready
  • 5:30pm- Ceremony
  • 6:15pm- Family & Group Photos
  • 6:30 pm- Newlywed Photos
  • ~7:00pm- Sunset
  • 7:20pm- Decor Photography
  • 7:30pm- Reception Start

Photography Timeline for a Summer Wedding with First Look

  • 3:30pm- Getting Ready
  • 5:00pm- First Look & Couple Photos
  • 6:00pm- Ceremony
  • 6:45pm- Family & Group Photos
  • ~7:00pm- Sunset
  • 7:20pm- Decor Photography
  • 7:30pm- Reception Start

Photography Timeline for a Winter Wedding with Photos After Ceremony

  • 2:30pm- Getting Ready
  • 4:30pm- Ceremony
  • 5:15pm- Family & Group Photos
  • 5:30 pm- Newlywed Photos
  • ~6:00pm- Sunset
  • 6:20pm- Decor Photography
  • 6:30pm- Reception Start

Photography Timeline for a Winter Wedding with First Look

  • 2:30pm- Getting Ready
  • 4:00pm- First Look & Couple Photos
  • 5:00pm- Ceremony
  • 5:45 pm- Family & Group Photos
  • ~6:00pm- Sunset
  • 6:20pm- Decor Photography
  • 6:30pm- Reception Start

Hope this helps a lot!

xo,

Cami

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