Wedding Timeline Tips
HE POPPED THE QUESTION so the wedding planning begins. You may be thinking a simple, intimate destination wedding sounds perfect and romantic, or....a big, fancy ballroom hall with lots of flowers, glamour, and bridesmaids sounds more like your ideal perfect wedding. Whatever your preference on how big orsmall you want your wedding day to be like, one thing's for sure, you're going to want to have every detail and special moment is caught on camera. Hence, a well organized wedding day timeline.
Here are a few tips on how to schedule your wedding day timeline in a way that will make all of your wedding vendors very happy. Not only that, but this will also help you to determine how many hours of wedding photography you actually need.
Before we begin, you will need to ask yourself the following questions…
- Where will the bride and groom be getting ready?
- How far is the wedding ceremony from the ‘getting ready’ location?
- What time will the wedding Ceremony begin?
- Will there be a first look and where?
- Where will the formals (family and wedding party photos) be taken?
- What time will your wedding reception begin?
Make sure to take into consideration traveling time when preparing your wedding day timeline. If you anticipate traveling from one location to another will take you 15 minutes, assume it will take you 30 minutes.
BRIDE AND GROOM GETTING READY PHOTOS (1 to 2 hours)
By default, it’s always a great idea to give your wedding photographer at least one to two hours to capture ‘getting ready’ photos. Also keep in mind that if you’re planning to leave your hotel/home at 2pm (as an example), start preparing to leave at 1:30pm.
When you have a room full of bridesmaids and family you have to assume it will take at least 15 to 20 minutes for everyone to gather their belongings and walk out of the door. If you’re staying at a hotel, you also have to take into account the amount of time it will take for you and your bridesmaids to walk to the lobby and wait for your limo or valet to pull up your car.
BRIDE AND GROOM FIRST LOOK (15 to 20 minutes)
If you’re having a first look, which is highly recommended, this is also a great opportunity to not only have the first look but also take a few formal photos of the bride and groom.
WEDDING CEREMONY (20 minutes to 1.5 hours)
Make sure to arrive at least 30 to 45 minutes prior to the commencement of your wedding ceremony. The wedding ceremony can be as short as 20 minutes or can last as long as an hour or more.
FAMILY FORMALS (10 to 30 minutes)
Arrange for the family photos to take place right after the Ceremony. Because all of your family will already be there, it’s easier to gather them up for photos. Make sure to give your family instructions to make it easier on you and the photographer as well. Family that you will want in your photos should stay put until they are dismissed by the photographer. The more you prepare your family for the family photos, the faster the photographer will be able to dismiss them.
Instructions to give your family and wedding party…
- If possible, no restroom breaks until AFTER the photos are taken. Make sure everybody takes a trip to the restroom before the ceremony begins, especially young children.
- Family should either stay in their seats or follow the bride and groom after they walk down the isle (depending on how or where the photos will be taken)
- Family should not wonder off to mingle with guests or to cocktail hour until photos are done.
WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS (10 to 15 minutes)
After the family formals are done, we usually move on to photograph the photos with your bridesmaids and groomsmen, including the flower girls and ring bearer. This should take approximately 10 to 15 minutes once we are set up in the location where the photos will take place. Again, you must take into account how long it will take to get to your destination if the photos will be taken in a separate location than your ceremony and reception.
BRIDE AND GROOM FORMALS (1.5 to 2 hours)
With all the chaos on a wedding day and how fast time flies, sometimes this is the part of the day that is the most neglected. Due to unforeseen events during the wedding day, at times the wedding timeline starts to fall behind and the time that was supposed to be dedicated for bride and groom formals is what suffers. To make sure you give your wedding photographer enough time to product some great images (which will more than likely be the ones up on your walls at home after all is said and done), make sure to allot at least 1 to 2 solid hours for your photographer. Some photos take a little longer to set up than others, especially when producing images that require off camera lighting. There's also the walking from one setting to another that takes time.
WEDDING RECEPTION ( 2 to 4+ hours)
Although many wedding receptions can last up to 4 hours or more, if scheduled correctly, your wedding photographer should be able to cover every important activity during the reception such as the grand entrance, first dances, cake cutting, garter and bouquet toss, and dance photos. Of course, some weddings with more wedding traditions may require the photographer to be there longer.
GRAND ENTRANCE (5 minutes)
Make sure to also allow yourself at least 15 minutes before your Grand Entrance into the Reception to freshen up.
B&G FIRST DANCE (5 minutes)
Bride and grooms usually transition from their Grand Entrance straight into their first dance as husband and wife.
***At this point dinner usually begins***
DINNER (1 to 2 hours)
SPEECHES/TOASTS (5 to 30+ minutes)
Speeches normally start to take place about 30 minutes after dinner has begun. Short and sweet speeches are the best!
FATHER/DAUGHTER AND MOTHER/SON DANCES (5 to 10 minutes)
Schedule the father/daughter and mother/son dances approximately 30 to 45 minutes after dinner has begun.
***Once all of your wedding guests have been served and the majority have finished eating, it’s a good time to start the dance.***
Garter & Bouquet Toss (5 to 10 minutes)
Schedule your garter and bouquet toss to take place about 30 minutes after the dance has started.
CAKE CUTTING (5 minutes)
Make sure to schedule your cake at least 15 minutes prior to your photographer's departure.
NIGHT TIME CREATIVE SHOTS (15 to 20 minutes)
You can schedule these photos to be taken at some point during the reception or about half an hour before your photographer is scheduled to depart.
The information above are just time estimates. Depending on the kind of wedding and the circumstances, some of the events may take a little longer or a little less. We hope that this gives you a good head start in planning your wedding day timeline!