Anastasia Romanova Photography | Philadelphia Wedding Photographers

your guide to a


Planning your Big Day is such an exciting time and your mind is probably racing with all of those things that need to be planned. There is little more important to a perfectly executed event than an organized timeline. As wedding photographers, we want to make this process a little more easier and fun for you both! After having photographed over 350 weddings, we’ve seen many things that worked and didn’t work that well. We would love to share with you some tips and advice on how to build a perfect wedding timeline that will ensure a smooth, relaxed, and enjoyable photography experience.

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Time allotment - 60-90 minutes

The morning of preparations is one of the most exciting parts of a wedding day! It is a great opportunity to capture all the anticipation and the wonderful moments happening when you are getting ready. We usually arrive 30 minutes before your hair and makeup have to be finished so that I (Anastasia) can capture the final touches of your makeup being applied. Vladimir will go to the groom suite and will start documenting the details and the groom and groomsmen getting ready. Once the hair and makeup are finalized, I normally like to allow 15-20 minutes to photograph the bridal details. After that, I can gather the girls for some fun robe/pajamas photos before everyone starts getting into their dresses. The moment of the bride putting her wedding gown and veil on is one of the most beautiful and special ones during the morning of preparations, so make sure you have enough time allotted for that. 20-30 minutes is usually what it will require. Once you are ready, it is a great idea to do a first look with your bridesmaids and with your dad.

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Getting Ready Tips:

  1. Gather all of your wedding details like dress, shoes, invitations, jewelry, flowers, wedding rings, and keep them all in one spot before the photographer’s arrival. You can also delegate this to one of your bridesmaids. That will save me some time looking for every single detail and I can start photographing all those pretty things right away.
  2. Put your wedding dress on a wooden hanger. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a fancy custom hanger from Etsy, but a wooden one will look much better than the white plastic hanger from the bridal salon.
  3. Pick a spot where you will be putting your wedding dress on beforehand and try to keep it uncluttered. A window with natural light is always a bonus point!
  4. Decide who you want to be helping you with putting on your wedding dress and the veil (your mom, sister, maid of honor) and have them get into their dresses first. That was it will look much better on photographs!

First Look

Time Allotment - 15-20 minutes

So what is a First Look? First off, it is a very romantic addition to your special day. It is a private ‘first meeting’ of the bride and groom where they see each other before the ceremony.

One of the biggest benefits of doing the first look is that you can take all your formal wedding photos prior to the ceremony and you don’t have to miss the cocktail hour. In fact, you will end up having much more portrait time. Wedding photography is a big investment and with the first look, you will be able to get the most for your money.

Another important thing about the wedding first look is that it reduces stress, especially prior to the ceremony. You will be able to see each other in a private setting, without tons of eyes being on you. It is probably the only time when the two of you will be able to be together and alone the whole day. A lot of our couples shared that their first look was one of the most memorable moments of their wedding. It felt great to be able to express one’s emotions freely without worrying about all your guests watching you.

The first look is definitely a great opportunity to get rid of your nerves. A lot of couples admit that they had no idea how nerve-racking a wedding can be, but after doing the first look they felt much more relaxed and ready for the ceremony!

However, we absolutely understand a desire of waiting until the ceremony. If you would like to stick to a traditional way of doing things and see each for the first time when walking down the aisle, we would be happy to tune in with your vision for that portion of the day and plan your wedding timeline accordingly. In this scenario, we start the couple’s and bridal party portraits right after family photos that are usually taken right after the ceremony is finished.

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Bridal Party

Time Allotment - 40-60 minutes

This is when the real fun begins! As wedding photographers, we know that all couples want their closest friends to have an amazing time during their wedding and we want to make sure that happens and everyone feels comfortable and taken care of!

Bridal Party photos are usually taken right after the bride and groom together photos, depending on the location. We love starting with the full group photographs, taking a variety of classic and fun, more natural-looking shots. Then we work on photographing the bride with her bridesmaids and groom with his groomsmen separately, including the individual photos. Since there are two photographers, we are able to capture girls and boys simultaneously, without keeping your bridal party waiting, and making the most of our portrait time.

Please keep in mind that the time needed for your bridal party photos may vary depending on the size of your group. While 20 minutes will be quite sufficient for a group of 6 people total (bride and groom included), having 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen will instantly result in doubling that timeframe.

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Couple's Portraits

Time Allotment - 40 minutes

This portion of the day is one of our favorites as we are about to create some of the most meaningful images of the two of you that will hang on your walls and fill your album for generations to enjoy.

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Prior to your wedding day, we will discuss all the locations you would like to go to for your portraits.

When capturing the wedding photos of the bride and groom together, we always try to work on a variety of styles and poses. As much as we love capturing our couples in a very natural-looking, candid atmosphere, we understand the importance of having some classic, traditional-looking portraits captured as well. A simple photo of the two of you looking straight into the camera will probably be the one that your parents will love the most!

During our pre-wedding meeting or a phone call, we will discuss in more detail what kind of photos and styles you love and appreciate the most. A lot of our brides love sharing their Pinterest inspiration boards with us which is sometimes very helpful.

While we don’t work off the Pinterest Boards and shot lists, we always love to use those as an inspiration. It is also helpful for us to have a better understanding of the things you like the most.

Please note that we might not need the entire two hours for the bridal party and bride and groom together photos. However, if you are getting married in the city and would like to go to a few different portrait locations, that is a very realistic timeframe your portraits will require. Also, padding your timeline for travel and traffic is always a good idea!

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Family Formals

Time Allotment - 20-40 minutes

Family Formals is an essential portion of your day. Those are the photos that your parents and grandparents will probably cherish the most and we always make sure we capture all the important groupings you need. For this reason, we will ask you to provide us with a family shot list prior to the wedding to make sure we are on the same page.

Family portraits are typically taken immediately following the ceremony. Please be aware that time is a factor and each group will generally require between 2-4 minutes depending on how large and well organized your family is.

Below you will find some common family formal combinations that we usually capture on a wedding day that you can use as a starting point:

  • B&G with Bride’s Immediate Family
  • B&G with Bride's Parents
  • Bride and Groom with Bride's Parents and Siblings
  • Bride and Groom with Bride's Siblings
  • Bride and Groom with Bride's Grand Parents
  • Bride and Groom with Groom's Parents
  • Bride and Groom with Groom's Parents and Siblings
  • Bride and Groom with Groom's Siblings
  • Bride and Groom with Groom's Grand Parents
  • Bride and Groom with both Sets of Parents

Reception Decor

Time Allotment - 15-20 minutes

The photographs of the reception room details and decor are usually taken during the cocktail hour and require 10-15 minutes. This is the only time when we can photograph all the beauty of your reception room before the guests arrive and take their seats.

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Night Time Portraits

Time Allotment - 20 minutes

During your reception, it is great to plan 15-20 minutes to sneak out for some artistic night time photographs of just the two of you together. Your venue might be having some beautiful uplighting outdoors or might have some breathtaking views of the night city skyline etc. The ideal time for these photos is when you already had a chance to grab a bite to eat or sometime during the open dance floor.

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Sample Wedding Timelines

The two sample wedding timelines presented below are based on a ‘first look’ and ‘non-first look’ scenarios and can serve as a starting point of planning your own timeline. Please note, that there are a lot of important factors that impact the flow of the day and make every wedding timeline unique:

- how close is your preparation location to the ceremony site

- if you are getting married in the city

- size of your bridal party

- size of your families

- whether you are having a church ceremony or it is the same venue where the reception will take place

- what time of the year your wedding is taking place

- if you have any other cultural traditions incorporated, etc.

Wedding Day Timeline with First Look based on a 10-hour day

12:00pm-1:30pm - Wedding Preparations

1:45pm - First Look

2:00pm - 2:40pm -Couple's Portraits

2:45pm - 3:30pm - Bridal Party Portraits

3:45pm - Leave for Ceremony

4:00pm - Bride gets tucked away from early arriving guests and touchups before Ceremony

3:55pm - Bridal party lines up for Ceremony

4:30pm - Ceremony

5:30pm - End of Ceremony/Cocktail Hour begins

5:45pm-6:15pm - Immediate family Photos

7:00pm - Guests invited to enter Reception and find their seats

7:15pm - Wedding Reception Intros

  • 1st Dance
  • Welcome Speech
  • Toasts
  • Parent Dances
  • Cake Cutting

10:00pm Photographers leave

Wedding Day Timeline without First Look based on a 9-hour day

1:00pm-2:30pm - Wedding Preparations

2:30pm - Leave for Ceremony

2:55pm - Bridal party lines up for Ceremony

3:00pm - Ceremony

4:00pm - End of Ceremony

4:00pm - 4:30pm - Family Formals

4:30pm-6pm - Couple's Portraits; Bridal Party Portraits

6:00pm-7:00pm - Cocktail Hour

7:00pm - Guests invited to enter Reception and find their seats

7:15pm - Intros

  • 1st Dance
  • Welcome Speech
  • Toasts
  • Parent Dances
  • Cake Cutting

10:00pm - Photographers leave