For many couples that I work with, getting amazing sunset lit images is important. But knowing exactly when to start and stop coverage, what time to start dinner or have the sparkler exit so that all of this can be accomplished can be quite stressful. It doesn’t have to be though!! I am going to share with you the simple formula that I use to suggest timelines to all of my couples.
I recommend starting with sunset and working your timeline backwards and forwards from there. I rarely have a wedding where portraits and sunset organically fall together, so most of the time I schedule in a “sneak away” with just the couple to get 15-20 minutes of romantic shots during this magical part of the day. This sneak away is usually during dinner, so guests typically don’t even notice. If you want your portraits to naturally fall during golden hour, take sunset, subtract and hour and this is when portraits should be. (see my example timeline below to see this)
Factor in a First Look or Pre-Ceremony Formals
First looks are trending, and if you think you’ll be feeling the pressure to cram in a lot in a short period of time on your day, a first look just may be your time saving solution. Aside from the fact that a first looks allows couples to have an intimate moment together without having to share that moment with a hundred or so onlookers, a first look gives you and your photographer the opportunity to get a majority of the formal portraits with or without the bridal party and immediate family members out of the way before the ceremony. Everyone is looking fresh, and its a great time to get a good portion of formals out of the way early.
If a first look isn’t your cup of tea, but your ceremony end time falls during or close to golden hour, I highly suggest pre ceremony formals where all of the formal images of the bridal party and families are taken before the ceremony. This way post ceremony formals only include poses with the couple and bridal party together and a few family portraits where the couple need to be together, like with the officiant and one with both sides of the family together. This will free up the rest of golden hour for those warm and dreamy images of just the two of you together.
Fake Your Exit
If you have scheduled in time for lots of pictures before your ceremony, there is a good chance that you are looking at your time line and trying to figure out how the exit is going to work when your photography coverage doesn’t stretch that far. Sparkler, bubble and confetti exits are huge right now, and if you are planning one of these for your exit, you want it captured by your photographer for sure. There are a few ways that you can achieve this and still stay within the allotted hours of coverage provided by your photographer. If you are having a confetti toss or bubble exit, consider having guests toss your confetti and blow bubbles as your recess down the aisle after your first kiss. For sparkler exits, its perfectly ok to schedule in a fake exit and then return to the party. Fake exits get the shots you need from your photographer, but they also give grandma and uncle Sal the excuse they need to politely excuse themselves because they like to get in bed early.
Lets look at an example from a wedding that had 8 hours of photography coverage. Sunset is noted as 0:00 and you can see we count back 3.5 hours to get the photographers arrival time. This method I finds works well year round to determine when things need to happen. Of course, this method of planning can also be used to plan around other times of the day that are significant to you and you partner.
I hope this has helped you get a feel for ways to get everything you need from your wedding day timeline!