Planning your wedding timeline and shot list for your Boston wedding

Learn about creating a timeline and shot list to ensure a relaxed and enjoyable wedding day.

Creating Your Wedding Timeline and Shot List


Creating your wedding timeline and shot list from a Boston wedding photographer

Planning for your wedding day involves many details and moving parts, but creating a timeline and shot list is crucial! As a Boston wedding photographer, I’m here to guide you through this process so you can be fully present, enjoy your big day, and feel confident that all of your important moments will be captured. Creating a timeline is all about what is important to you!

What is a wedding timeline? 

First and foremost, a wedding timeline is a detailed schedule that maps out the sequence of events. It includes key moments such as when getting ready begins and ends, the first look, ceremony start time, cocktail hour, first dance, and speeches. Crafting this timeline may involve input from your wedding venue coordinator, wedding planner, and photographer, ensuring that there’s ample time for capturing all the essential photos and all of the events of the day. It also ensures your vendor team is all on the same page as to when and where each event will take place. 

From a photographer’s standpoint, a well-crafted timeline ensures that every special moment is captured without feeling rushed. It’s worth noting that weddings rarely unfold exactly as planned. Your timeline should have a little wiggle room for unexpected changes or delays so your vendor team can adjust accordingly. Despite potential deviations, the goal is to stay on track as much as possible to ensure a seamless flow of events.

How long will wedding photos take? 

Here is what I recommend to allow for ample time for photos including 7-10 hours of coverage on the day of your wedding. Timing for this can depend on your goals, the size of your wedding party, and your vision for family photos. It’s also important to consider whether or not you will have a first look. This will determine when your formal portraits will take place. 

  • Getting Ready: 1-2 Hours
  • First Looks: 30-45 min
  • Family Photos: 30 min
  • Wedding Party Photos: 30 min (15 minutes with a second photographer!)
  • All Formal Portraits Taken During Cocktail Hour: 1 – 1.5 hours
  • Sunset Portraits: 10 – 20 min
  • Reception: 2-4 hours

Learn more about preparing for getting ready photos on your wedding morning!

A Wedding Timeline Tailored to You 

I believe that no two weddings are the same, which is why I will create a custom timeline with each of my couples. I highly recommend talking with your partner about what is most important to you on your wedding day. 

Think about things like:

  • Do you want to see each other for the first time at the ceremony?
  • Will you have a first look?
  • Do you want your details captured? 
  • Do you want to attend your cocktail hour? 
  • What family portraits are important to you? 
  • Are dance floor photos important to you? 

Once you both have these things decided, then we can craft a timeline from here. We will coordinate with your venue or wedding planner to ensure a seamless flow, incorporating formalities like introductions, dances, and dinner service.

I will provide recommendations for timing, such as when hair and makeup should conclude, scheduling first looks or formal photos, and even sneaking away for sunset portraits. Your timeline should reflect your photography goals and what is most important to you!

While timelines are vital for organization, flexibility is key. I’m prepared to adapt if circumstances change, preferring not to rely heavily on extensive shot lists. I never want to miss a candid, natural moment while looking at a checklist of things to capture. You can trust that I will capture all of the big important moments and everything that happens candidly in between. 

Before your wedding, you’ll receive a comprehensive questionnaire to finalize your family photo lists and customize your timeline. This ensures transparency and sets realistic expectations for how long everything will take.

What is a wedding shot list?

A shot list is a detailed document, like a checklist, that outlines specific photographs or moments that the client wants captured during the wedding. It typically includes a list of specific family groupings and important details. Shot lists help ensure that the photographer captures all the important people so that everyone is on the same page. 

You won’t have to let me know that you want me to capture your first kiss or first dance, all of those moments will most definitely be captured. Rather, this is more about your family dynamics and photo preferences for your day. For example, I want to know if you are wearing your grandmother’s heirloom ring or want an individual photo with each of your bridesmaids. It is important to communicate anything your photographer wouldn’t necessarily know you want!

Even though we will be finalizing a timeline, an extensive shot list can be overwhelming. Instead, I prioritize capturing natural and authentic moments and set realistic expectations of how long portraits will take depending on the number of guests and groupings.

Creating Your Ideal Wedding Day

A strong relationship between you and your wedding photographer is vital. I focus on establishing trust and personal connection, ensuring you feel comfortable and confident in my ability to capture your day authentically. I encourage you to be fully present and allow yourself to enjoy each moment without any concern for missed photos. My photography style is timeless, classic, and authentic to ensure you receive a wedding gallery you will cherish for years to come!

Tips for planning your wedding photography timeline and shot list

Reach out to start planning your perfect wedding day in Boston or beyond —Kerri McWade Photography will guide you every step of the way! Inquire today to learn more about my wedding photography services.

Vendors Team

Photographer: Kerri McWade Photography

Venue: Wequassett Resort 

Florals: Sweet as Honey Floral

Makeup: Rosie Makeup

Hair: Michelle’s Hair & Beauty Bridal

Band: The 1999 Live

Dj: Dj Dimitri Soteropoulos

Video: Niko Kakouris

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