Wedding Day Timelines | Building a timeline for a perfect wedding day
I know you have probably heard it before, but your wedding day will FLY by. After months of planning, your wedding day ends up coming down to the span of a few hours. You spend so many hours planning all the details for your perfect wedding day, and it’s over in less than 24 hours. It’s crazy!! This is why your wedding day timeline is one of the most important things needed for your wedding day to run smoothly. You should start creating your wedding day timeline early on in your planning.
When I create a wedding day timeline, I start in the middle, with the times that I know are set in stone and then I work backwards. I start at the ceremony time, since that is the first time that is set in stone.
There are several things to consider when building this timeline. These will need to be answered before you can build your timeline. Here are a few:
How many people are getting ready? (I suggest 1 hour per person)
Are you doing a first look?
How much travel time is needed between locations used for this day?
GETTING READY – The getting ready should start 3 to 4 hours prior to ceremony.
Depending on your hours of coverage, I usually ask to start photographing when your makeup artist arrives. I will need around 45 minutes for detail shots, which I use every second of. I always tell my brides to put me in the start of the day rather than use my time for reception shots. Things get so busy later in the day and the opportunity to get those images is less likely later. To make things easier for your photographer, please keep all these items together: invitations, rings (both bride’s and groom’s), veil, shoes, dress, hair pieces, perfume, jewelry, flowers & 2 invitations. Please make sure to tell your florist to have all bouquets there by the time your photographer arrives.
Make sure to get ready in a room with LOTS of windows.. Natural light makes a huge difference. Make sure the getting ready room has NO clutter! All bridesmaids should be dressed and ready before the bride so they look awesome when buttoning up that beautiful bridal gown.
I recommend my bride get ready first because if something runs late I can be photographing the bride while others are still getting ready.
If you are having a first look, this should happen 2 hours before the ceremony time. This is an intimate moment. No one besides the photographers should be there.
BRIDE AND GROOM PORTRAITS (immediately after first look)
This session is 30-45 min. The wedding day is about you two and all those special moments. These are the pictures you will hang up one day in your home. Do not cut this time off! This is the time when I capture those romantic images that you will forever treasure. There should be no rush.
WEDDING PARTY PORTRAITS
After both first look and bride and groom portraits, we will get group shots done. Wedding party shots take 30-45 minutes depending on size of bridal party and any travel time. If family is around, I love to get family shots done before the ceremony too. That way they can just head on to the reception.
30 MINUTES BEFORE CEREMONY
Bride and groom should be hidden until ceremony starts
IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE CEREMONY
Family shots are for immediate family. Family formals should take 30 minutes max. For each combination you add, add 10 minutes to your time.
Make sure your family knows and is ready to go. The more combinations you add the longer it will take. This is my standard list:
Bride and Groom w/ Bride’s parents
Bride and Groom w/ Bride’s immediate family
Bride & Groom with brides grandparents
Bride and Groom w/ Groom’s parents
Bride and Groom w/ Groom’s immediate family
Bride & Groom with grooms grandparents
Bride and Groom w/ both sets of parents
IF YOU CHOOSE NOT TO DO A FIRST LOOK
If you chose not to have a first look we will need to do your bride and groom portraits and wedding party pictures after family formals. That means I need 1.5 hours after the ceremony. Anything less will not be enough time.
THE RECEPTION ROOM
This is one area that brides usually forget to give me time for. I need to get into the reception room before any guests in order to take pictures of it untouched. Doing a first look gives more time during cocktail hour to get those gorgeous details and centerpieces.
I am usually there for cake cutting, bouquet toss, first dances and about 30 minutes of open dancing.