One of the ways that I can help you as a photographer… Other than taking amazing photos for you… Is helping you to plan out the timeline for your day. Keep in mind I’m not a wedding planner and it’s YOUR special day, and it can be arranged anyway that YOU want it to be.
The Wedding Timeline can be extremely stressful. Not everybody knows exactly what the timeline for their big day should look like. My number one recommendation for any couple that’s working on their Wedding Timeline is:
1. Ceremony start time: (Estimated Time: 20-30 minutes)
This is where I start with every couple. Every event time throughout the day is determined based on this time.
Important note: be sure to leave at least 30 minutes before the ceremony with nothing scheduled. It is nice to have a little quiet time to catch a breath, grab a drink, and touch up the makeup and hair if needed. Also, this is when guests start to arrive.
2. Venue times:
Working backward, be sure you know what time the venue is going to let you into the venue, and when you must be cleaned up and gone. This will give you a good boundary to know how much time you are working with when building out your full Wedding Day Timeline.
3. Hair and makeup:
Communicate with your HMUAs to know when they recommend starting for the day. If you have a ton of bridesmaids, then you better plan on getting started early. It is always a good rule of thumb to assume that the hair and makeup may take longer than you think to finish up. So, build at least 30 extra minutes into the time for that.
4. Detail shots: (Estimated time: 30-45 minutes)
Detail shots include photos of your venue, reception area, decorations, wedding dress, shoes, etc.
5. Getting ready photos (Estimated time: 1 hour)
Getting ready photos of groom and groomsmen: at least 20-30 minutes.
Getting ready photos of bride and bridesmaids: at least 20-30 minutes.
6. Vendor arrival times:
Just so you and all your vendors are aware of the time they need to arrive, be sure to put all of that info on the wedding day timeline. It’s always a good idea to put the arrival times and the times that they’re supposed to leave.
7. First look: (Estimated Time: 1 hour)
This first look is when the bride and groom see each other for the first time prior to the ceremony. It allows you to enjoy each other’s company before you worry about other things like group photos or the reception. The first look can shift your timeline around. I usually spend at least 1 hr for the first look, photos of bride and groom together and individually
8. Wedding party/ Family photos: (Estimated Time: 1 hour)
If you decide to do a first look, it is always nice to get the wedding party and family photos done before the ceremony. That way you can go straight to the reception with all your guests. But, de-pending on the time of day, if it is too hot, or inconvenient for your family to do it before, you can always put it after the ceremony while non-family make their way to the cocktail hour/reception.
The average time for wedding party photos is 20-30 minutes and family photos is also 20-30 minutes.
9. Cocktail hour: (Estimated Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes)
Not every wedding has a cocktail hour, but this is a good time for family photos and couples’ photos if you opted to not do them before the ceremony. It’s understandable that you don’t want your guests to wait long, so after the ceremony, we can spend around 40 minutes for wedding party and family photos; 45 minutes for bride and groom photos.
10. Special Dances. (Estimated Time: 20-25 minutes)
Sometimes it’s very convenient to have the first dances be the very first thing you do at the reception. As soon as the bride and groom are introduced to everyone for the second time, they can enter the reception area and do their first dance immediately. The average time for couple’s eon-trance, the first dance, father and daughter dance, mother and son dance can be around 20 minutes.
11. Dinner and toast: (Estimated Time: 30-45 minutes)
Sometimes it’s hard to know when exactly everyone will be done going through the food lines. Depending on how many guests you have, dinner time can last around 1 hour to 1 and half hour.
12. Cake cutting: (Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes)
Cake cutting can happen after guests are done eating or It’s OK to do this part of the reception even if people are still eating. They can simply get their slice of cake when they’re done eating.
13. Bouquet and Garter Toss: (Estimated Time: 15 minutes)
The Cinderella is a part of every wedding they can be a lot of fun. The only issue is that it’s usually scheduled at the end of the night after all the dancing. Unfortunately, not every person in attendance wants to hang around for the whole time. So be mindful to not make the send-off too late for those who may need to get to bed early. Especially if they have church or work the next day.
15. Wedding party
Breath! Have fun and dance the night away! 😊
Wedding Timeline Tool