Planning a wedding is a LOT of work, and for most of you probably something you’ve never done before. Right about the time you get the swing of wedding planning the big day is here, and the time for planning is over. With that in mind I love to help educate my brides on the photography side of things so they have one less thing to try and figure out on their own. One major part of this is the wedding day timeline….How do you plan an entire wedding day that is relaxed, seamless, and photography friendly so you get all the photos you’ve been dreaming of?
The secret is all in having a well thought out timeline with plenty of wiggle room 😉 Below you will find an example of and “ideal” wedding timeline. Obviously every wedding day is different and you’ll need to customize depending on the unique circumstances of your day. Seasons are also very important as 7:00 PM will be pitch black for a winter wedding, whereas you may want to go even as late as 8:00 for sunset portraits in the summer time.
One other quick note. You may notice there are “gaps” in the timeline. This is both intentional and extremely important. It is almost a guaranteed that at some point during your wedding day something is going to come up or run behind and that will put your timeline behind. By having 10-15 minutes of padding scattered throughout the day you allow yourself time for those unexpected occurrences, and keep things on track as much as possible.
I hope this is helpful, and happy planning!
2:30-3:15 Bridal Details
Every bride loves having those beautiful shots of her bridal details. It’s an important part of the story and I love having some time to shoot the dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, etc. These shots allow me to get warmed up for the rest of the big day. I normally like to allow at least 45 minutes for this part of the day. While I’m shooting details, I’m also capturing some shots of the bride and her girls getting ready! If the groom is getting ready nearby, the second shooter (if you have one) will begin photographing the boys close to 40 minutes before the first look since it always takes them less time to get dressed!
3:15-3:45 Bridal Prep
After the details have been photographed, it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! This is a big moment! I usually ask the mother of the bride and all of the bridesmaids to be dressed by the time the bride is ready to get into her dress. This ensures that everyone will look nice in those images. After the bride is in her gown, she can put on her jewelry, veil, shoes, etc. and I will shoot some additional bridal portraits!
*Pro-Tip: Bridal hair and makeup takes an average of about 60-90 minutes from start to finish, and that is something you will want done BEFORE the getting in the dress photos. You will also need to plan for your brides maids to have their hair and make up completed by this time. If you want photos of the hair and make up process we can grab a few in during the “details” portion of the day ;)
4:00 First Look
This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day! I will find the perfect location for my couple’s First Look prior to the getting ready portion of the day! Don’t stress about that one bit! I will make sure the location is private and as secluded as possible.
After the bride and groom take their time with the First Look, I will begin taking a few romantic portraits of the two of them while the initial excitement is still present! I will find the locations for these shots as well! Remember, the LIGHT determines where we shoot and so I can’t decide on portrait locations until the day-of. As we shoot these portraits, the bridal party can start making their way to us for Bridal Party portraits!
4:50-5:20 Bridal Party Portraits
Now it’s time for Bridal Party shots! I buffer in extra time throughout the day just in case we have some unexpected things that hold us up! One way to make sure we stay on schedule for bridal party portraits is to have someone put the boutonnieres on the guys BEFORE they arrive for portraits. During Bridal Party portraits, I will make sure to take some.great shots of the guys and girls both separately AND together!
5:30-6:00 Bride in Hiding & Reception Details
After bridal party portraits are complete, the bride will go into hiding so that early guests don’t sneak a peek, and the ushers will begin their duties.
If the reception is in the same location as the ceremony, I will use this time to shoot the reception decor UNTOUCHED. If the ceremony and reception are in different locations, I recommend having a cocktail hour outside of the main reception area if possible so that I can grab some great shots of your reception before the night begins and guests start laying down purses and coats on their seats!
It’s time to get married!! Most ceremonies are 30 minutes long. If your ceremony is longer than 30 mins, we’ll make adjustments to the timeline! Cherish these moments! Your ceremony will pass by so quickly!
Family formals normally take place immediately following the ceremony. It’s best to save all of the family formals until after the ceremony because ALL family members will be present at that time. We’ll need about 30 mintues for family formals and I will send a questionnaire before the wedding where you can list out the shots that you want. I recommend shooting portraits outdoors if possible so that they resemble more natural family portraits, especially if the ceremony location is dark!
You can also choose to work family photos in after the first look early in the day to save time after the ceremony. Just make sure everyone you would like included will be there by then and adjust your timeline by about 30 minutes before the ceremony 😉
7:15-7:30 "Just Married" Sunset Portraits
7:00pm is the BEST time of day for portraits in the late spring, summer and early fall! This is when the sun is glowy and golden. I love having a few extra minutes with the bride and groom to take a few “Just Married” portraits right after family formals!
7:30 The Reception Begins!
This is when the bridal party lines up for introductions and the party begins!! By this part of the day, my timeline isn’t as strict. I work off of the natural light and so after the sun is set, my portrait time is over and I begin focusing on the reception events!
10:30 The Exit
My base package includes 8 hours of coverage so that I can be present for the main events of the reception and about an hour of dancing! If you’re interested in having your exit photographed, there are several options for this! You can either add additional coverage or plan a faux exit with just your bridal party! We have had GREAT success with this and the party never stops! Email me about this if you’re interested in learning more!
Approximate Times To Plan For
DETAILS & PREP : 1.5 HOURS
FIRST LOOK & PORTRAITS : 30-40 MINS
BRIDAL PARTY : 30-40 MINS
FAMILY FORMALS: 30 MINS
EXTRA PORTRAIT TIME : AS MUCH TIME AS YOU’LL GIVE ME!