So you chose your wedding date and booked your venue. Now it’s on to booking your wedding photographer. But then what? What happens with your photography from the time you book to when you get your wedding album in your hands? I’m laying it all out in this wedding planning timeline for your photography.
Wedding photography, super simply put, boils down to an engagement session and the wedding day. However, in actuality, photography, stationery, along with other details of your day, will all help you to determine when to schedule your engagement session and more.
No wedding is the same, so some pieces of this may not apply as well to you. Nonetheless, the wedding planning timeline for your photography below will be a useful guide in understanding the ‘big picture’ as you juggle the many moving pieces of a wedding. This will also give you some insight into what it’s like working with Emily Kyle Photography:
There’s really no hard and fast rule on when to book your photographer. It will depend on the wedding date you choose but 10 to 18 months is the typical range for EKP couples. This provides a good amount of time for planning and a good chance that your wedding date is still available*, especially if you’re getting married during the busy wedding season (May through October in Michigan)
*post covid, couples are booking out further and further with 12 to 20 months being the new average*
If you plan to use photos for your save the dates, then schedule your engagement session between 8 and 10 months prior to the wedding. For destination or out-of-state weddings, lean more towards 10 months before the wedding. For local weddings, 8 months out is just fine. If save the dates are not a concern, then you can really schedule your engagement session at any time before the wedding. Just keep in mind the season you’re hoping to have your session. Lastly, avoid planning your session within 1 to 2 months of the wedding since this is when things will get very busy for you!
Once you’ve received your engagement photos, it’s time to order your save the dates! After selecting your favorite photos and finalizing the design, I’ve found that the average turnaround for printers and photographers is 2 weeks. However, I always encourage you to give yourself more time just in case you have a change of heart about the design, a printing error occurs or the package gets delayed. It’s a good idea to allow 1 month for the save the date process, from designing to sending. Oh and the higher, the guest count, the more envelopes to address! As a note, you can always send out save the dates earlier than this but 7 to 9 months is a great place to be at a minimum.
Once you’ve ordered save the dates, this is also the perfect time to put together your guest sign-in book or engagement album. This ensures your album/book can be designed, printed, bound and arrives in plenty of time for the wedding day.
For local weddings, aim to mail your save the dates no later than 6 months prior to the wedding so guests can plan accordingly. For destination weddings or if the majority of your guests will be traveling from out-of-state and beyond, sending them out 8 months prior to the wedding will allow guests more time to make travel arrangements.
Within the wedding planning timeline for your photography, I have found that for many couples, 6 months out from the wedding is a great time to get in touch with your photographer to start putting together a rough schedule for the day. By this point, you’ll likely have many of the big decisions made and now, putting together some timing to things and walking through what the day might look like can be really helpful to inform some of your smaller details and decisions left to make. All being said, every couple’s planning evolves differently and you may not need or be ready for your photographer’s assistance with writing the timeline.
You’ll want to mail out invitations 8 to 12 weeks prior to the wedding. If your guests will need to make significant travel arrangements, 4 or more months prior to the wedding is courteous.
At this point, you should be making progress in your planning and will likely know a lot more about the various parts of the day, timing, and guest count. 3 months before the wedding, solidify your wedding day timeline (and then continue to update it as you get closer and closer to the big day). Putting together your timeline will help you and your vendors be on the same page, help you plan any communication you’ll need to send to family and wedding party members about where to be and when for photos and more.
This is also a great time to make sure you’ve booked enough photography coverage for your day and allows enough time to still make additions and changes if needed. 3 months prior to the wedding, I sit down with all of my couples to go through the day and will write a custom timeline for the delay to ensure there’s plenty of time for the most important parts of the day and the photography.
You’ve done all of the planning and everything is ready to go. There’s nothing left to do now except celebrate your marriage with your friends and family.
As soon as you receive your photos from your photographer, you should make several copies and back up the digital files across multiple media storage types and locations right away. Head over this way for more on how to backup your photos so you’ll have them for a lifetime.
I always encourage couples to get started on printing and designing their album as soon as they get the photos. Make a tentative plan with what you want to do with your photos before the wedding so that once you get your gallery, you can choose your favorite photos and work with your photographer to get them printed in an album and up on your walls so you can enjoy them every day.
It’s easy to come back from the honeymoon, settle into married life, and before you know it, life takes over and you’ve done nothing with your photos – not because you don’t want to, but because, you know, time, responsibilities, all of these things. By acting on your photos as soon as possible after the wedding, you’ll be prioritizing your marriage from the get-go, you’ll get the most out of your investment in photography, and won’t give anything the chance to keep you from doing what you want with your photos.
There’s the big picture! Hopefully, this wedding planning timeline for your photography will prove useful as you dream up your amazing wedding day! Want more details and tips like this? Be sure to get your hands on my 52-page wedding guide loaded with tips and tricks for planning your wedding day in a way that allows for the most successful photography using the link below!