How to Plan the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline
As your wedding photographer, my goal is always to provide you with a wide variety of amazing images on your wedding day. As the bride and groom, you should always be stress-free and joyful, focusing on each other and your friends and family. These things can only be accomplished with good planning and an amazing timeline, which is why today, I’m sharing with you how to plan the perfect wedding day timeline.
Bridal Details: 45 minutes
The first thing I’ll do when I arrive to your getting ready location is start on the details. During this time, I like to photograph both the bride’s and groom’s details. I ask that you compile all of the details into one box or bag, and have them ready for me in the bridal suite. Here are some items to include in your bridal details: all three rings, the invitation suite, shoes, jewelry, perfume, watch, tie, a few loose florals if possible, the bridal bouquet, and any other personal details that you would like photographed. I also photograph the bride’s dress at this time.
Bridal Prep: 30 minutes
Next, I’ll capture the last 30 minutes of the bride getting ready, which can include a few staged touched up’s of hair and makeup, robe photos, and the bride getting into her dress. I usually ask that the mother of the bride and the bridesmaids are already dressed and ready before helping the bride into her dress. After getting into her dress, the bride can put on her shoes and earrings, and I will do a few additional getting ready portraits. If you’ve hired a second shooter, the groom’s prep photos can happen at the same time.
First Look: 15 minutes
This is my absolute favorite part of the wedding day, and it’s almost always my couple’s favorite part of their wedding day! I spend time before the wedding scouting for the perfect location for you to have a beautiful private moment together.
Bride and Groom Photos: 30 minutes
Right after the first look, we will go into 30 minutes of bride and groom photos. Although, I will take as much time as you will give me for these! These will be the photos you will print and hang on your walls and the ones you will pass down to future generations. I like to get you as much variety as possible in terms of posing, angles, and different background options that your venue offers.
Bridal Party Photos: 30 minutes
This timeframe really depends on your specific wedding. If you have a large bridal party and/or you’ve only booked one photographer with no second shooter, I would bump this up to 45 minutes. During bridal party photos, I take individual photos of the bride with each bridesmaids, group bridesmaid photos, individual photos of the groom with each groomsmen, group groomsmen photos, as well as full bridal party photos.
Family Photos: 30 minutes
These can either take place before the ceremony or right after the ceremony. I send out a questionnaire before the wedding to get a list of the exact groupings that you want for your formal family photos.
Bride in Hiding: 30 minutes
I like to send the bride to hide 30 minutes prior to the ceremony. This is when your guests will start arriving , and you don’t want them to see you in your dress until the ceremony starts!
Reception Details: 30 minutes
It’s so important to take photos of the reception details untouched, BEFORE guests are allowed in. Once guests start arriving, the room will be filled with bags, drinks, coats, and people, and I won’t be able to get the detail photos that I need to. You’ve put so much thought and money into your reception decor, so it’s important to set aside time for me to take these photos. If your ceremony and reception are at the same venue, I can do this right before the ceremony while the bride is in hiding. If you have multiple venues, we may have to get more creative with the timeline in order to make sure we get these shots. Make sure to check with your venue, caterer, and florist to make sure that your reception will be fully set up before I am scheduled to take these photos.
Ceremony: 30 minutes
In general, wedding ceremonies take around 30 minutes. There are exceptions such as Catholic masses that may cause the ceremony to be much longer. If you’re having an outdoor ceremony, planning your ceremony for about 1-1.5 hours before sunset (sunset time will depend on the time of year) will be best for lighting if you want gorgeous lighting for your ceremony images.
Sunset Photos: 15 minutes
If you plan your ceremony for 1-1.5 hours before sunset, these can happen right after the ceremony. Depending on the time of year or if you decide to have your ceremony much earlier, these may need to be scheduled in the middle of the reception. I promise, that sunset photos are always worth it! They are always my (and my couples’) favorite images from the day. Gorgeous lighting makes the biggest difference.
Reception: At least 2 hours
Make sure that the amount of time you’ve booked me for will last at least 2 hours into your reception. This assures that I can capture all of your formalities. When you’re planning your timeline with your DJ, make sure he or she knows how long you have your photographer for, so he or she can make sure all of the formalities will happen before I’m scheduled to leave. Sometimes DJ’s like to schedule the bouquet and garter toss for the middle of the reception instead of closer to when other formalities are happening.
I hope this timeline helps you as you’re planning your wedding! If you have an questions, leave them in the comments below or email me directly by sending me a message on my contact page!