Raven Shutley Studios Logo
Close this search box.

How to Prepare to Make Your Wedding Day Photos Flawless

Spouse kisses newlywed wife at the sweetheart table with bouquets in GA Raven Shutley Studios

First things first—deep breath, you made it to your wedding day, and it’s going to be absolutely fabulous!

But if you’re like many of my other clients, you’re likely wondering how your photographer ensures they capture all the highlights of your wedding day.

It all starts with being prepared! So, here’s a recap of everything I do to make sure your wedding photos are flawless.

First, We Create a Wedding Day Timeline

One of the first things I do with a couple (before your wedding day) is to build a “fake” timeline together. I say fake because your day will unfold perfectly, and no piece of paper with numbers on it will make us anxious or frantic; it’s just a guide!

The timeline helps set expectations about how much time we need for photos and how I typically structure a day as far as photography goes. And honestly, it’s nice having a plan and knowing what to expect walking into such a big day!

Taking a look at the timeline early also allows you to make tweaks based on your wants for the day. Plan to wait for your guests at the altar instead of making a grand entrance? Perfect—I’ll be in position to capture all of their candid reactions to how fabulous you look! Rather stay for one last dance after your guests all leave, I love it! Let’s ensure the timing in your package covers me being there, or we can shift when I arrive back a bit to adjust for it.

There are a million ways to structure a wedding day. I will always encourage building in buffer time (expect the unexpected, right?!) as well as time to yourselves so you can breathe and take in the day.

Repeat after me, “timelines give you freedom!”

In case a wedding photography timeline is a bit of a mystery to you, let’s take a look!

Sample Timeline: 8 hours of coverage with a first look

1:30 pm –  I arrive! Ahhh, you look sensational!!

2:30 pm –  First look + couple photos

3:30 pm – Release couple for some chill time

4:00 pm – Ceremony

4:30 pm – Cocktail hour + group photos

5:30 pm – Reception: dances, dinner, cake cutting + toasts

7:45 pm – Sunset photos (and/ or we can capture after dark photos!)

8:00 pm – Sunset

9:30 pm – Exit + photographer departs

What to Consider Before Setting Your Wedding Day Timeline

As you can imagine, there are SO many factors that play into shifting this timeline to be a custom fit for you and your day. Here are a few of my considerations as your photographer:

I love as much time with you as possible!

I have multiple package options ranging from 6 hours to 10, and each is a good fit for different reasons, but I sure do love hanging out with you as long as possible! More hours means I can be there and capture more of your day.  Are getting ready photos special to you? Plan to party late into the night? Having your photographer around just a bit longer means more photos to reminisce on later.

More than anyone, you need a drink!

I try to get you to at least part of your cocktail hour to chill with the people you love. After all, it is your party so being efficient with photos so you can party more is always my goal.

I keep group photos quick and painless (for everyone!)

I want everyone to be comfortable and have a great time, even during photos, which is typically not a part of the day folks are jazzed about.

How I Prepare the Night Before Your Wedding

Every night before a wedding, I prep my bag and my batteries, then review the timeline for the next day {as well as set a handful of alarms on my phone to keep me on that timeline!}

Then I run down my preparation checklist:

✔️ My batteries all go on the charger (You can never have too many!)

✔️ My lenses all get a wipe down.

✔️ My fun toys, like prisms, are put in their bag where I can easily access them.

✔️ My memory cards are formatted and ready for new images.

✔️ Snacks and coffee for the car and to store in my camera bag (like alarms and batteries, you can never have too many!)

✔️ Gas in the car, a podcast or playlist cued up.

✔️ Re-check the checklist.

And then, like clockwork, I have a panicky moment while driving down the road to the venue where I’m convinced I forgot something until I physically put my hands on it.


At the end of the day, my role is to capture your joy and play a role in making your wedding day the most beautiful, memorable day. So if there is something else you have in mind, something that makes you uncomfortable or heck, if you change your mind last minute—we can figure it out together. Questions are always welcome here, even if I am not officially your photographer yet! I’d love to help in any way I can. Playing the smallest role in your love story is such a privilege and brings me so, so, SO much joy.

Want More Advice on Prepping for Your Wedding?

Join the mailing list and we’ll send you my free guide full of 7 Types of Things to Include in Your Wedding Day ‘Oh Shit!’ Kit!

Pinterest graphic with blog post title and photo of one bride kissing her new spouse during the wedding reception




other posts you may like

Enchanting Atlanta Venues for Garden Weddings

Wanderlust Vows: My Destination Wedding Photography Policies & Plans