Every wedding is as unique as you. From the time you take to get beautified, to the length of your ceremony, the time of year, weather, and wish list… it can all impact how your wedding will unfold hour by hour. Whether it’s you, your photographer or your wedding planner, or perhaps it’s a collaborative effort of all, you’ll want to develop a detailed Wedding Day Timeline to ensure your day runs smoothly and effortlessly. Here’s a general idea of what your wedding day (photo) schedule should ultimately look like.
1. Getting Ready
For the Bride: A trial run of hair and makeup always helps to estimate how much time you will need to look your best. To be sure you have enough time to enjoy and relax, add another 30 minutes to this for a safety net for any issues that could come up, and if nothing comes up, then you’re golden and you can just sit and relax! Your photographer only needs the last hour or so of the getting ready. Let’s face it, you don’t want photos fresh faced and straight out of bed. Also allow about 20 minutes for getting into your dress and putting your accessories on. Some wedding dresses are tricky and take a bit of practice and time to get zippered, laced, or buttoned up. Average time: 1.5-2 hrs.
For the Groom: Most Grooms like to involve some sort of group activity early on, like golfing, surfing or shooting pool. Afterwards, we will get some details of the grooms finishing touches. Photos of the groom and groomsmen putting their jackets, shoes and cufflinks on. These little pieces will help tell your story. We will finish up with a few portraits of the guys hanging out together and having a few drinks. The Grooms generally take a little less time than the bride and bridesmaids, but obviously, this can vary. Average time: 1 hr.
Keep in mind things like bride/groom gifts and love notes as well as any other personal touches that are unique to your day. A common photo request to consider for brides is if you’ll want first look photos with your Dad or family/bridesmaids.
Please Note: The next phase of your timeline can really change here depending on whether you choose to have a first look or not. Having your photos done before the ceremony have their pros and cons, please talk to me further if this is something you may be interested in knowing more of.
The ceremony is one of the most important parts of your day, it is where you announce your love and commitment for one another in front of your family and friends. It is the part of the day that goes by so quickly so remember to take it all in! Plan for 15 additional minutes to allow your guests to exit the ceremony, and give their congratulations. Average time: 30-45 mins.
3. Family Portraits
This can be one of the most tedious parts of the day. Mostly because, if not well organised it can suck into precious time! Your guests will be enjoying the canapés, the flowing champagne and of course catching up with long lost friends/relatives. I love to work with your MC during this time to ensure the group photos are as stress free as possible. I always urge my couples to put a lot of thought into who they need to have in these images and try to keep the list to around ten combinations. It also is important to share the time and location with your family to ensure everyone is there and ready to smile! Just having your parents, siblings, and grandparents is a great way to keep the process simple, stress free, and fun! The less people you have to worry about gathering, the more you can enjoy the process. Average time: 30 mins.
4. Cocktail Hour & Bridal Party Photos
Depending on what you did before the ceremony (first look versus no first look) this can change your timeline. The buzz in the air is always at its peek during this time! Take a moment to enjoy a drink or two before rushing off to do your photos. Or if you’ve already done them… relax! If you’re having a signature cocktail from a bar service like Hello Audrey, make sure you enjoy that cocktail! After all you are paying for it! Depending on your venue you may not need to go far for photos. Remember less is more! One or two locations that offer versatility is much better than 5 locations all across town. The less time everyone is in the car getting from point A to point B, the better. Most photographers have secret photo spots that are great and easily accessible from the venue! Average time: 1hr-2hrs.
Food, glorious food! During this time it will include: bridal party and the newly wed introductions, toasts/speeches, dinner, cake cutting and the first dance. Typically if the weather allows you will go with your photographer during a portion of dinner to do sunset photos. I always encourage my couples to do this, even if it’s just for 10mins! It is such a lovely time to escape and enjoy each others company in the last of the evening light. Also by this stage in the day you are a lot more relaxed, (thanks to the champagne) and the photos are effortless and private. What more could you want?! Average time: 3hrs.
Remember, this is just a guideline and the specifics will differ from wedding to wedding. Planning is key to less stress on your big day, so be sure to use your wedding planner or day of coordinator to their full potential!
I hope this offers a little insight and gets you excited to plan your wedding day timeline! After shooting weddings every weekend, I have realised what tends to work and what doesn’t work so well. At the end of the day I want my couples to be insanely present and enjoy each and every aspect of their day from getting ready to the final dance. I want them to enjoy the raw and authentic moments and a carefully crafted timeline can help ensure that everything runs smoothly for all involved! I work with each and every couple to talk through their wants and needs on their wedding day and to offer the best experience possible with tons of laughs, a few tears, and a million beautiful photos to prove it.