I shot my first wedding in October 2006.  Back then, I simply hoped for the best.  Hoped the wedding wasn’t delayed, hoped the family members remained nearby for formal pictures, and hoped I received a timeline for the day in advance.  I’ll never forget the terror of standing outside–in a garden–after my first wedding on a pitch-black night for the family formal pictures.  It was so dark I couldn’t get my camera to focus.  I actually resorted to my assistant holding a flashlight just to provide enough light to get my camera to fire.

I redefined awesome.

After that experience, I realized how important it was for me to address a wedding day timeline in advance.  Namely, using my experience (you know, all ONE wedding I had tucked under my belt) to best prepare my clients for an optimal photography experience.

This meant discussing my clients’ desires weeks in advance and offering guidance if the bride was inclined.  This was of tantamount importance if a wedding coordinator was not involved with the planning, as the ebb and flow of the day is controlled by the wedding photographer.

In 2007, I photographed 38 weddings and–through trial and error–created what I think is an optimal timeline.  Now, this is just my opinion.  Everyone works differently, but I’ve discovered I’m able to balance my clients’ desires as well as my creative desires adhering to the following timeline…

2pm
– Photography begins
– Details photographed (wedding dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, bouquet, etc)
– Last minute hair and makeup touchups
– Candid photos of the bridesmaids preparing

3pm
– Bride dresses
– Candids of bride with mom and bridesmaids

3:30pm
– First Look
– Bride and groom see each other before the ceremony for photos

4pm
– Bridal party pictures
– Bride with her bridesmaids, group and solo photos
– Groom with his groomsmen, group and solo photos
– Entire group

4:30pm
– Bride gets tucked away from early arriving guests
– Photographers shoot ceremony details and cocktail hour location, if available.

5pm – Ceremony

5:30pm – Ceremony Ends

5:40pm – Family pictures

6:10pm – Sunset photos with bride and groom

6:25pm – Photograph reception details

6:45pm – Grand Entrance

6:55pm – First Dance

7pm – Welcome and prayer, if applicable

7:15pm – First course served

7:30pm – Toasts

7:45pm – Second course served

8:15pm – Father/daughter…mother/son dance

8:25pm – Open dancing

9:30pm – Cake cutting

9:40pm – Bouquet/garter toss

10pm – Photography coverage commences

Like I mentioned before, everyone works differently and there’s no such thing as a perfect approach.  I wrote this blog post because I wish I had something to consult when I first started.  I made many mistakes, but I learned from each of them, and I used them to build my business.

Most importantly, simply go out of your way to ensure you’re on the same page with the bride.  Your experience, your client’s experience, and the overall flow of the day will be amazing if everyone knows what to expect.

If you’d like to read more about how I work and other FAQs, here’s a specific link to just these types of posts:  FAQ Posts on Jasmine Star Blog

I appreciate the opportunity to share a little about who I am and what I love to do.  Thanks to the Kelby crew for welcoming me and I couldn’t be more honored.
j*

Website:  Jasmine-Star.com
Blog:  JasmineStarBlog.com
Twitter:  @JasmineStar
Facebook:  Jasmine Star Facebook Page

About The Author

71 Comments

  1. Jasmine, your the best! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great post. And the best web site on the planet–HOLY COW–what a site–what an inspiration.

    Makes me want to run out and get married, again.

  3. Hey Jasmine!!! What’s up!?

    Awesome post. I was wondering if you ever might make an appearance here. How fun! Love your writing and photos as usual. Thanks for everything!

    Nate

  4. She is a great photographer. Good post.

  5. Hey Jasmine,

    Some stunning photography here, your website is awesome too. Some of your photography pieces on there have some really strong sense of compositions on them. Also the captions that you have added to some of the shots are just so sweet.

    I absolutely love your black and white shots as well as the shot with the bride and the bridesmaids (above)

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post.

  6. Sunset at 6.10? Well in Denmark that’s true for October, I guess. But I’m amazed that anyone could go through with a wedding with such a tight plan. I’m impressed with the amount of work involved, but have yet to attend a wedding or any other kind of party, where the food and toasts could be planned with such detail. Maybe it’s because I’m Danish, but we tend to eat for hours on end.
    I enjoy the post and really admire your work Jasmine.

    • Excellent points Lars.

      I am getting married next year. My American fiance and I (Danish national) have completely different traditions and timelines for the day. Makes it a fun yet complicated day to plan.

  7. Fascinating and highly informative post, thank you. Please be very careful to re-work the timeline if you go outside the US for a job, as local laws and customs may vary wildly from those you assume.

    For instance in Scotland it is deemed unlucky for the groom to see the bride before she is brought up the aisle by her father to join him in the church, and she will be at the head of the bridal party (ie all the bridesmaids, flower girls and pages will follow her). It also must be full daylight during the ceremony (anti coercion law), which means that it must take place before 4pm in winter.

  8. Wonderful photography! The timeline is very informative, planning ahead with the couple is a good way of making everything smooth for both parties. Coordination is one thing most people forgot to do especially in occasions like this.

  9. Hi, very nice article.

    Btw, I wondered, where does this habit of wedding photography comes from in the US, because I don’t think we have such a big demand for wedding photography of this type in Europe. Especially here in France.

    Greetings,
    François-Xavier

    • François-Xavier,

      Weddings in general have become a HUGE business in North America and I think it is through HUGE marketing efforts that couples — though brides are the primary target — are convinced that they should part with thousands and thousands of dollars to turn their wedding day into a major production. TV shows, magazines, trade shows, etc., etc. push the notion that the more you spend on your wedding day, the more memorable it will be. (end rant :-) )

      Trev J.

      • I feel that the most important thing to take away from your wedding, besides the union to your loved one obviously, are the photos. The gifts will come and go, the food will be forgotten, but the photos will last for generations. Years down the road, when your memory fades, you’ll have the photos to take you back to those very moments. Often times, there needs to be a little convincing that the photography is one of the most important aspects of planning a wedding. When searching for a photographer, one needs to find one that can tell the story of your day, from start to finish, without words. Their story will properly introduce you to the bride and groom, build up their background, provide the climactic moment, and leave you with the happy ending. That’s what you pay for. Great photographers are expensive, but they deliver those great stories 100% everytime. My wife and I weren’t so lucky with our wedding photographer. Ours didn’t have the experience or equipment needed and we received poor quality. Since I’ve taken up wedding photography, it’s been my vow to become that great storyteller.

  10. One of the best web site designs I have ever seen for a photographer, OK maybe THE best! I like your approach to your subjects.

  11. Funny, I went to see Jasmine* at a conference in Chicago years ago and have been a huge fan.
    I asked her that night if she had ever heard of Scott Kelby and she said no, I told her to look you up and that you had some AMAZING stuff.

    Glad you two finally crossed paths, great work Jasmine!

    • OMG! Isn’t that funny…never hearing of Scott K.!?

      I’m the other way around, I had been studying with Kelby for years before I ever heard of Jasmine! LOL!

      I can’t imagine where my wedding photography business would be if it weren’t for Scott and then Dave Ziser!

      Thanks Scott!

  12. Jasmine, thanks so much for sharing these details like this. I have always admired how much you’re willing to share and the frankness and honesty which you seem to approach everything you do with. :D

  13. Wow…..just wow! I am not a wedding photographer, but I do enjoy seeing great photography. Jasmine, you are one of the best! Thanks for sharing today. BTW, fantastic website!

    –John

  14. Jasmine,

    I am not a wedding photographer, but being in the deep south I occasionally get asked to do them (in the south if you have a camera, it is assumed you photograph weddings).

    I watched you on Chase Jarvis Live broadcast and I have to admit I almost wanted to shoot weddings, almost.

    In all honesty I get enough request that I am creating a wedding website for those that ask BUT I told my wife no boring brides and weddings ;)

  15. Thank you Jasmine! Your list makes perfect guide and if cannot be followed exactly- offers perfect road map, to not get lost and overwhelmed by stress.

  16. This post is AMAZING. I wish I had something like this a year ago, but it’s never too late. I still struggle with guiding brides and grooms through their time lines. In the Midwest most couples don’t have wedding planners. They also rarely have first looks, which makes things difficult. But for those who DO have a first look … this time line is a great reference. I have bookmarked it and will copy it for sure :) Jasmine has been so helpful in the start and continuation of my business. Thank God for her and her FAQs. What a generous photographer.

  17. I wish I could get more of my couples to do a first look! I’ve only done one so far and one with an elopement (but they arrived together so it doesn’t count). I would like to help break this tradition so we have more time to do awesome photos and the guests don’t have to wait as long.

    Thanks for sharing your timeline!

  18. I think this article will be priceless for a friend of mine. Thanks, much.

    Also, I normally don’t care for Flash websites (even for artists), but I do like your website. It’s quite stylish and loads really quickly. Great job.

  19. Thanks for sharing Jasmine – as usual, you rock! :-)

  20. So excited to see a j* guest post here, as she is such a HUGE inspiration. Jasmine always shares her stories with such raw honesty and vulnerability. After watching her creativeLIVE course, I think every photographer will look at his/her work a little differently… I know I did!

    • Hi Shannon..

      Loved th j*! Clever! Her signature. I think Jasmines amazing…and Puerto Rican too makes me proud as a Latina.

      I was bummed however to have missed the CreativeLive filming is that still available somewhere? I only bfind the blog and stills.

      We had 3 weddings back to back on the days of the LIVE feed.

      Appreciate your feedback.

  21. Hello Jasmine

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

    I am photographing my first solo wedding on the 30th of October!
    This has just put my mind at ease! I have just (as in right now after reading this post) organized to have a meeting with the couple to discus the timing!

    Thanks so much! It will definitely help me out!

    Marc

  22. This is awesome, you’re the best!! I’m just starting to shoot weddings (spoke this morning with a prospective client/high school friend) and was thinking how I need to look up a timeline. Really you’re the best! And next time WPPI RoadTrip goes around can you PLEASE make the trip with them to Orlando? That would rock…

  23. Great post Jasmine. Thanks!
    Quick question how soon do you get images back to the bride and groom?

  24. Great stuff as usual. Jasmine I sent you an email subject line WOW. You inspired to shoot my first wedding it may be my last its hard work. The couple loved the photos and I owe it to you I looked at your website for hours and that helped me with the photo I took. Thank you so much…

  25. If you haven’t done so already, check out the ‘behind the scenes’ video on Jasmine’s blog.

    Awesome stuff!

    (I’m liking the variety of your guest bloggers Scott)

  26. Absolutely fabulous, as always. I am very inspired by your work and your insight and love that you are willing to openly share your knowledge with us. Keep on keeping on!!!

  27. I think a timetable is a great idea, because for the most part, planning everything else with a wedding is chaotic. This grounds everybody and shows what pics will be taken so there’s no surprise ideas or worries about missing a certain shot.

  28. Great post! Very informative. You might want to correct the timeline at 10PM. Shouldn’t it be “ceases” or some other word than “commences”.

  29. Such a helpful post! Love it. One thing – might want to change that 10pm Photographer coverage commences to concludes.

  30. Scott and Crew,
    Thanks for bringing in the wedding side of the photographic world to your site. With Cliff and Jasmine you have certainly nailed two of the best in our industry. Jasmine’s style in very well known and imitated in the wedding industry, not to mention her writing is absolutely fabulous to read. There are lots of photographers in the wedding world who truly bring an art to it, so keep bringing them on board. I listed a few others that are well known and bring a unique style to table from composition, colors, and lighting: Susan Stripling, Chris+Lynn, The Image is Found, Bobbi+Mike, and Jessica Strickland.

    To Jasmine,
    Hope you and JD are well. Italy looked like a blast. And who was Polo’s breeder. I think it is the cutest dog ever born.

  31. Redefined AWSOME after one wedding?

    • Just as clarification–which is often lost on the web–I was being completely sarcastic. It was actually the complete opposite (as the story conveyed…I was a hot mess!). Thankfully my clients have been quite gracious and helped me along the way :)

  32. Thanks for your support, y’all! :)

  33. Thanks Jasmine for the organization of a detailed day. What if your client is opposed to a first look? I find it challenging to get every couple on board. Many couples are not willing and there is only so much time in between the ceremony and grand entrance to get everything. Recommendations?

    • Ok so I’m not j* but here’s what helps me.

      I always make it a point to tell my clients “its ALL about them!”

      If you come across as mentioning First Looks in order to help you as a photog, then naturally they don’t get it.

      But….if you remind them that a First Look is probably the ONLY moment of the day they will have to share together almost alone, get the tears out of the way so ceremony photos aren’t jeopardized, and the biggie here is so they too can join the cocktail hour!

      This will also give couples a chance for sunset photos later that evening…and overall its less stress and just a great way to have fun!

      Catholic and some church weddings are a flat out no, that’s when you get creative and take initiative with brides on the timeline since they have no ideas about photography.

  34. Anyways great info! Thanks for sharing!!
    Much respect to the game. J* for life ese!

  35. thanks J*….wonderful….as always!!! Thanks for being such a great mentor to the rest of us….I ALWAYS learn something new and am ALWAYS inspired….

  36. Thank you for sharing your amazing uber talent with the world! I am shooting my first wedding Next weekend and can’t wait!
    Thank you!

  37. Hi Jasmine,

    As someone who shot a handful of weddings and understands the challenges, love your work!

    And thanks for sharing the timeline, it’s always nice to get another’s take on this sort of thing. Wedding days are all consuming as it is, but I agree that it’s the job of the wedding photographer to help guide the layout of the day. Some feel awkward about this, but you are really doing the bride a disservice if you don’t discuss such things b/c you won’t be in position to deliver your best work….which is what they are paying you for, right?

    I picked up on your sarcasm. :) But there’s a great stand-up comedian, Arj Barker, who delivers a funny bit on how it’s hard to convey tone in writing. And he’s right, I’m sure we’ve all probably experienced this. His solution, two new fonts: Good Times Roman and Sarcastica. :)

    Keep up the good work!

    Cheers,
    Greg

  38. Nice images and very nice of you to share with others how you work.

  39. Hi Jasmine,
    What I liked the best about your blog post was the schedule and saying that this works for you, but it is adjustable. Everything in life is adjustable depending on circumstance.
    Thanks for a great read,
    Mike

  40. As usual, she is very helpful in educating fellow photographers.

    BTW, the note I took during her Creative Live workshop are here:

    http://blog.yuestudio.com/2010/08/note-from-jasmine-star-creative-live.html
    http://blog.yuestudio.com/2010/08/quotes-from-jasmine-star-creative-live.html

    In case someone is interested.

    • Oh my goodness…thank you so much I (heart) your j* notes!!

      Its so funny we are both from the SF Bay Area, you are Yue Studio and I am YStudio!

      Looking forward to meeting someday!

      Best wishes…and yes my sites down but please visit my temporary blog.

  41. The Creative Live workshop was an innovative and super opportunity to see an awesome photographer ‘do her thing’ with wedding photography. This timeline suggestion is a great help for me. Thank you, Jasmine! You inspire me in my work.

  42. informative post, jasmine! the only thing i am a little confused about is how you actually get brides to FOLLOW this timeline??! every bride (friend and otherwise) gets married smack in the middle of the afternoon when the sunlight is hooooooorrible. it’s so hard to convince them to have a late afternoon wedding! any advice?

  43. Great photos indeed. I liked two b&w photos together.

  44. Excellent work, Jasmine. You are awesome. I will be praying for your continued success.

  45. I met Jasmine at the EscalateLive 2010 Inaugural Conference, and folks if you LOVE her now you will Love Love Love her in person!

    Great speaker, real educator and flat out gorgeous! Oh she’s a super talented photographer too!

  46. I wonder how many more weddings I could book if I LOOKED like her, LOL!! Love your work Jasmine!!

  47. You should get Jasminie on board for Kelby Training Online. Loving the videos by Cliff Mountner on weddings too.

  48. I’m a big fan of Jasminie’s work and I absolutely adore her web site. I have to agree with Chanelle that it would be wonderful to see if Jasminie would be willing to give a course on KelbyTraining.com

    I had no idea that she’s only been shooting since 2006. She’s come an incredible way in such a short period of time. I’d love to know more about her background, education, family, etc. She is quite inspiring!

  49. She’s actually already doing online classes at CreativeLive.

    She is such a nice, humble person. You go, Jasmine! Your photos are phenomenal. ;-)

  50. Jasmine’s blog is one of the best-looking blog sites I’ve ever seen. I am green with envy!

  51. What up Jasmine! I remember watching your interview online with Chase – you had nice boots on btw haha. I respect your hustle..keep on pushing.

    Btw I’m glad to see your guest post on Scott’s blog!!!!


    DT.
    Miami, Florida | Nassau, Bahamas

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