HOW TO CREATE A ST LOUIS WEDDING TIMELINE | WEDDING TIMELINE-WHEN TO DO WHAT

Hello there, I know it can be difficult to pinpoint an exact wedding photography timeline template with all the diversity, different religions, or even indoor and outdoor ceremonies. However, there is a basic time frame you should look at when planning your wedding day in St. Louis and the midwest. 

Some of these outlined times may seem long and drawn out but keep in mind that your wedding day will fly by. Most, if not all weddings that I have photographed have run slightly behind schedule. I will make your photo sessions fun, so it won’t seem like a very long time at all.

LET’S TALK FINE DETAILS (THIS IS WHEN I GET THE RINGS, DRESS, WATCHES, ETC.)

TIME NEEDED – 30 minutes

BEST TIME OF DAY – Morning

BEST LOCATION – Bridal Suite or Hotel Suite

MY TWO CENTS – Having at least 30 minutes for your details will ensure that we get that perfect photo of your dress, rings, shoes, watches, and the other fine details of the wedding day.

That being said there are times when a hotel room is too crowded or unappealing; we have to take the dress all the way down to the lobby or even outside. This can take some time, but as you can see from the results, it’s well worth the additional work.

THE GETTING READY SHOTS

TIME NEEDED – 60 minutes

BEST TIME OF DAY – Morning or Early Afternoon

BEST LOCATION – Bridal Suite or Hotel Suite

MY TWO CENTS – Having at least an hour of prep is ideal for our style. During this time, we are getting close-ups of the makeup and hair, as well as the candid moments of the bridesmaids and groomsmen getting ready for the wedding day. This time can be some of the most emotional and fun times of your wedding day, so make sure you don’t want to cut it short, slow down take a breathe and enjoy your wedding day. 

Most of the time the lead photographer will be with the bride while the second photographer (if one is included in your package) will be with the groom in most cases. Normally it doesn’t take the guys an hour to get dressed, there are still amazing moments during this time between the groom, his family, friends, and groomsmen.

THE PERFECT TIME FOR THOSE INDIVIDUAL PORTRAITS 

TIME NEEDED – 30 minutes

BEST TIME OF DAY – Morning or Early Afternoon

BEST LOCATION – Bridal Suite, Hotel Suite, Venue Lobby, or Venue Garden

MY TWO CENTS – Right after your getting ready images is the best time for your individual portraits of the bride and groom separately of course, we don’t want to ruin any surprises. Makeup and hair will be fresh, the day hasn’t gotten crazy…yet, so we can take our time and get those perfect portraits.

One huge thing to keep in mind is window lighting. In most cases, hotel window lighting can create a very particular look that can’t be duplicated in any other setting throughout the rest of the wedding day.

THE FIRST LOOK!

TIME NEEDED  – 45-60 minutes

BEST TIME OF DAY – Morning or Early Afternoon

BEST LOCATION – Garden, Empty Hallway, shaded area, or Empty Hotel ballroom 

MY TWO CENTS – Your first look if you choose to have one should be around 45-60 minutes give or take. First looks are all about the bride and groom! They get that special moment of seeing each other for the first time on the wedding day. The actual first look is not very long at all, it might only be 5-10 minutes, the rest of the time will be spent capturing a few portraits of only the bride and groom.

That being said I would save the bulk of the couples session for later. If for some reason there is no other time in the wedding day timeline, it might be best to add another 45 minutes to an hour so there are enough photos of just the bride and groom.

THE WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS

TIME NEEDED – 45-60 minutes

BEST TIME OF DAY – Morning or Afternoon

BEST LOCATION – Lobby, Garden, Beach, Park, Any Off-site Location

MY TWO CENTS – Wedding Party Photos should take around 45 minutes to 1 hour. At this time, a variety of shots in an assortment of poses should be captured of the entire wedding party. 

Starting off with the basic, classic photos that focus on great expressions that will show everyone’s good side. Then you should move right into the fun and creative shots. Get everyone laughing and having a good time. Last but not least, we make sure to get pictures with you and each one of your bridesmaids or groomsmen individually, one posed and one just for fun.

BRIDE AND GROOMS IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBERS

TIME NEEDED – 30-45 minutes

BEST TIME OF DAY – Morning or Afternoon

BEST LOCATION – Lobby, Garden, Beach, Park, Off-site Location

MY TWO CENTS – Immediate Family Photos may take around 45 minutes (depending on the family size). It is important to have images with your parents, grandparents, and siblings besides just the basic formals.

Plan on about 3 minutes per group. So, if you have 5 family groups, schedule in 15-minutes.

We know how much weddings mean to the immediate family, and the photographer needs to make sure they’re capturing enough pictures with all your immediate family members.

CEREMONY DETAIL AND VENUE

TIME NEEDED – 30 minutes

BEST TIME OF DAY – Ceremony Site

BEST LOCATION – Morning or Afternoon

MY TWO CENTS – 30 minutes will give the second shooter plenty of time to take pictures of the ceremony site, at this time it will be completely set up with no guests or vendors.

Before any guests are seated, it’s very important that the second photographer is there to capture the complete set up of your ceremony site so we can capture the scene at its absolute best. This is another area where a second photographer would be very useful if one is not included in your package.

YOUR EVERYONE FORMALS (EXTENDED FAMILY, IMMEDIATE FAMILY, AND FRIENDS)

TIME NEEDED – 45-60 minutes

BEST TIME OF DAY – Morning or Afternoon (Post Ceremony)

BEST LOCATION – Ceremony Site

MY TWO CENTS – Formals should take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on your family size and the number of guests you have invited.

Plan on about 3 minutes per group. So, if you have 5 family groups, schedule in 15-minutes.

Some couples want a picture with all guests while others only want pictures with select VIPs to save time. The best way to decide is with a list of groups and helpers from each side of the family to help round people up.

WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR, THE COUPLES SESSION

TIME NEEDED – 1 hour

TIME WANTED – ∞ ????

BEST TIME OF DAY – Late Afternoon (Sunset/ Golden Hour)

BEST LOCATION – Garden, Beach, Hotel Lobby, Park

MY TWO CENTS – The Couple sessions should be 1 hour and should take place 30 to 45 minutes before sunset (to get those golden shots). This is the ABSOLUTE BEST time in terms of lighting.

It will allow capturing amazing scenic shots with colorful and dramatic skies. If your St Louis wedding is downtown or in an area with tall buildings, it’s not as important to have this specific time frame (although it still helps). Unless you are wanting images taken by or at The Gateway Arch.

That being said, if you booked your venue because of a spectacular view of the river or the gorgeous views on a bluff, it’s very important to follow this advice in your wedding day timeline.

RECEPTION DETAIL AND VENUE

TIME NEEDED – 30 minutes

BEST TIME OF DAY – Early Evening

BEST LOCATION – Reception Site

MY TWO CENTS – Allow 30 minutes for the second photographer (again if one is included) to take pictures of the reception area, completely set up with no one in the area, including guests and vendors.

This is the perfect and possibly only opportunity we have to capture the beauty of the reception room prior to your guest’s arrival right before things get moved around.

ARRIVING AT THE RECEPTION

TIME NEEDED – 10-15 minutes

BEST TIME OF DAY – End of Cocktail Hour before guests enter

BEST LOCATION – Reception Site

MY TWO CENTS – When the couple see’s  the reception space for the first time can capture a genuine reaction, as well as a moment alone with the dance floor to practice your first dance ???? ,not to mention it can also make for an amazing photo!

IF YOU CHOOSE-SNEAK OUT COUPLES SESSION

TIME NEEDED – 20-30 minutes

BEST TIME OF DAY – Dusk to Night-Time

BEST LOCATION – Areas with interesting lights, fountains, cityscapes, and mirrors

MY TWO CENTS – During the reception, we love to plan on a little sneak out for a couple of night shots. We only need 20-30 minutes, we understand how important being a good host is, so we would do our best to not keep you any longer than needed. The perfect time to capture these shots is right after you eat or when the floor has been opened for dancing. Another ideal time would be at the very end of the night once all the guests have departed.

COUPLES EXIT – THE END OF THE WEDDING NIGHT

TIME NEEDED – 10-15 minutes

BEST TIME OF DAY – Dusk to Night-Time, End of the night

BEST LOCATION – Exit to the car, walkway, outside area

MY TWO CENTS – The end of the night… sending the couple off. I have seen this done with glow sticks, sparklers, smoke bombs, and event light sticks. The plan here is to make a path for the couple to walk through lighting them up and sharing a kiss at the end. Can you think of a better ending? I am always sad to see it end, but can’t wait to get home and edit all of the amazing images from the night.  

Additional Wedding Day Details

Table Shots – When you go around visiting guests at their tables to capture the fun they are having at your event. There are really only two options for capturing photography during this time. 

  1. You can take formal pictures with each of these tables (remebmer this can take a long time if you have a long list of guest)
  2. We can simply focus on photojournalism (my favorite because it tents to make the event look more natural), capturing the smiles and hugs as you mingle with each table. 

If formal table shots are what you would like to do, images will take about 3-5 minutes per table. Unless you get stuck taking to uncle Roy about that fish he caught 10 years ago for the hundredth time.

Aerial Shots – Aerial shots are taken from a drone, that being said it takes time to launch the drone and capture the images. Also, keep in mind that in a certain place a drone cannot be launched due to FAA rules and regulations. You will need to allow 15-20 minutes to capture the drone images.  

St louis wedding time line

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