Creating a Wedding Day Timeline + 3 Tips to Make it Work for YOU

26.06.2015

While your wedding day timeline will be unique to you, there are certain aspects that are very important to take into consideration to help your day flow wonderfully from beginning to end! I’m fortunate to work with couples (or couples’ planners) who work closely with me on creating their timeline, and I’d love to offer some great examples of timelines that are advantageous to the newlywed couple and their guests, as well as myself as the photographer.

1  //  Portraits before the ceremony:
This can be anything from a few with your bridesmaids (and the groom with his groomsmen), to a ‘first look’ + couple’s portraits, to ALL of the above depending on your preferences to see each other before the ceremony or not. I certainly do not try to talk couples into doing a ‘first look’ if they are against it, but for those who are open to the concept, I love to point out the pros of this option.

A first look can really help to calm nerves before the ceremony if you’re able to see each other for a few moments. This also might be one of the only times on your wedding day that you two get to spend a few minutes alone to soak in + appreciate what this important day means for your marriage. Often during a first look, both of your reactions will be happy, emotional + beautiful, if you opt to have a peek at how each other looks before you walk down the aisle. Lastly, and an absolute groom favorite in my experience, it allows you to have the opportunity to enjoy the cocktail hour + be present with your guests if you’ve already done your portraits before the ceremony.

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2 // Accounting for details like a receiving line + travel time:
It’s always best to build some extra time into your day for those unknowns like heavy traffic, restroom breaks, and dinner service to name a few. I’ve written about planning buffer time into your day before, and I can’t emphasize enough how important this factor is in keeping you calm + relaxed on your wedding day. Spending the time preparing and thinking about those ‘extras’ beforehand will allow you to enjoy the day without worrying if you get a few minutes behind, because you’ll already have accounted for a little extra time for these unforeseen delays.

 3 // Allot enough time for what is important to you:
If portraits of the two of you, a first look, candids of your guests enjoying cocktail hour, etc. are high on your priority list, make sure to communicate that with your photographer (and/or wedding planner) and we will help you plan accordingly! I ask my clients several weeks prior to their wedding day what they especially want me to focus on at different points of the day. Each wedding day is completely unique because of you two + each guest + person involved, so I always prompt + encourage couples to consider + write out what is most important to them to have documented (beyond my own mental shot list). I happily provide sample timelines, with specific lengths of time it takes me to create certain images (portraits, details + family portraits, for example), to help my couples plan accordingly.

What might your ideal timeline look like, you might ask? Read on!

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If you’re like me and love visuals, this little extra bonus is just for you! For example, an ideal wedding day timeline might look like this (based on an 8 hour wedding day):

With a First Look:
Photographer arrives and greets bride & groom!
Getting ready, candid & detail photos of bridal party, or just bride & bridesmaids as time allows (hair/makeup,
dress, shoes, rings, invitation suite, ceremony space, etc.) – about 1.5 hours*
(* I highly recommend having me arrive about 1.5 hours before you slip into your dress)
First Look and a few portraits of bride & groom – about 30-35 minutes
Bridal party portraits – about 40-45 minutes
Bridal party / bride / groom tucked away 30-45 minutes prior to ceremony
Ceremony
Receiving line or usher guests out of ceremony space (optional)
Family portraits – about 15-20 minutes
Sunset / late afternoon portraits of bride & groom – about 10-15 minutes
Cocktail hour – bridal party / bride + groom visit with guests!
Photos of guests at cocktail hour, reception space, cake/dessert, tables, etc. – about 20-30 minutes
Entrance to Dinner
Dinner & Dessert service
First Dance (and any parent dances)
Open Dance floor coverage – about 30 minutes
Photographer departs

WHAT THIS MIGHT LOOK LIKE FOR YOUR DAY
With a First Look (no travel time accounted for):
12:45pm: Photographer arrives and greets bride & groom!
12:45pm: Getting ready, candid & detail photos of bridal party, or just bride & bridesmaids as time allows
(hair/makeup, dress, shoes, rings, invitation suite, ceremony space, etc.) – about 1.5 hours*
(* I highly recommend having me arrive about 1.5 hours before you slip into your dress)
2:00pm: Bride gets dressed
2:10pm: First Look and a few portraits of bride & groom – about 30-35 minutes
2:40pm: Bridal party portraits – about 40-45 minutes
3:20pm: Bridal party / bride / groom tucked away 30-45 minutes prior to ceremony
4-4:30pm: Ceremony
4:30-4:50pm: Receiving line or usher guests out of ceremony space (optional)
5-5:15pm: Family portraits – about 15-20 minutes
5:20-5:30pm: Sunset / late afternoon portraits of bride & groom – about 10-15 minutes
5:30-6:00pm: Cocktail hour – bridal party / bride + groom visit with guests!
5:30-6:00pm: Photos of guests at cocktail hour, reception space, cake/dessert, tables, etc. – about 20-30 minutes
6pm: Entrance to Dinner
6:15pm: Dinner service
7:45pm: Dessert service
8:15pm: First Dance (and any parent dances)
8:20-8:45pm: Open Dance floor coverage – about 25-30 minutes
8:45pm: Photographer departs

 


 

Without a First Look:
Photographer arrives and greets bride & groom!
Getting ready, candid & detail photos of bridal party, or just bride & bridesmaids as time allows (hair/makeup, dress,
shoes, rings, invitation suite, ceremony space, etc.) – about 1.5 hours*
(* I highly recommend having me arrive about 1.5 hours before you slip into your dress)
Bridal party / bride / groom arrive at ceremony location and are tucked away 45 minutes prior to ceremony
Ceremony
Receiving line or usher guests out of ceremony space (optional)
Family portraits – about 15-20 minutes
Bridal party portraits – about 40-45 minutes
Bride & groom portraits – about 40-45 minutes
Photos of guests at cocktail hour, reception space, cake/dessert, tables, etc. – about 20-30 minutes
Entrance to Dinner
Dinner & Dessert service
Sunset / late afternoon portraits of bride & groom – about 10-15 minutes
First Dance (and any parent dances)
Open Dance floor coverage – about 15 minutes
Photographer departs

WHAT THIS MIGHT LOOK LIKE FOR YOUR DAY
Without a First Look (no travel time accounted for):
1:00pm: Photographer arrives and greets bride & groom!
1:00pm: Getting ready, candid & detail photos of bridal party, or just bride & bridesmaids as time allows (hair/makeup,
dress, shoes, rings, invitation suite, ceremony space, etc.) – about 1.5 hours*
(* I highly recommend having me arrive about 1.5 hours before you slip into your dress)
2:20pm: Bride gets dressed
2:30pm: Bridal party / bride / groom arrive at ceremony location and are tucked away 30-45 minutes prior to ceremony
3-3:30pm: Ceremony
3:30-3:50pm: Receiving line or usher guests out of ceremony space (optional)
4-4:20pm: Family portraits – about 15-20 minutes
4:30-5:10pm: Bridal party portraits – about 40-45 minutes
5:15pm-5:50pm: Bride & groom portraits – about 40-45 minutes
6-6:25pm: Photos of guests at cocktail hour, reception space, cake/dessert, tables, etc. – about 20-30 minutes
6:25pm: Entrance to Dinner
6:30pm: Dinner Service
7:45pm: Dessert Service
8-8:15pm: Sunset / late afternoon portraits of bride & groom – about 10-15 minutes
8:30pm: First Dance (and any parent dances)
8:45-9pm: Open Dance floor coverage – about 15 minutes
9pm: Photographer departs

I hope that you find these tips helpful while creating a wedding timeline that fits well for you! If you’d like to hear more or reach out to me about working together, I’d love to hear from you!

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