There’s nothing more important to having as seamless and relaxed day as possible as having a detailed timeline with plenty of minutes for everything to get done- it will help make sure there’s a spare moment for you to enjoy and have fun!
I hope this helps those of you struggling with your day of schedule- I’ve even included a sample timeline at the end. 🙂
When I first arrive on a wedding day, often I will start with spending about 15-30 minutes photographing the details (dress, shoes, flowers, rings, invites, garters, jewelry, etc). This is considered part of the prep section of the day.
For my wedding packages, I usually account for an hour of prep time to be present for. If the guys and the ladies aren’t prepping at the same place, then travel time between the two needs to be considered. It does affect the prep timeline a little bit. After photographing the details, I spend about 20 minutes taking photos of the bride getting her hair and makeup done first. If the guys are getting ready somewhere else, I will leave for a short time to head there. While I’m gone, the bridesmaids and moms should be getting dressed so the bride can get in her dress as soon as I return. I then stay with the women until it’s time for the ceremony. This will differ a little bit for every wedding depending on where everyone is, if you’re going to a salon first and getting dressed at a different location, if you only want photos of the guys hanging out at the ceremony site and not getting dressed, etc.
Something important to consider is whether or not you want to see each other before the ceremony. It’s become pretty popular to have a first look- I do it for about half of my weddings. It’s ideal for ceremonies later in the day or in the fall/winter where we will start to lose light shortly after the ceremony. It’s also very common for my brides to want a reveal with their dads. Whether you decide to see each other before the wedding or not, I usually will do some formal portraits with parents or wedding party early in the day to save time in between the ceremony and reception. 🙂
The ceremony timeline is the easiest part of the whole day! Make sure you take into consideration if you want to do any unity activities and how you want to release/receive your guests after you’ve exited the ceremony- some couples don’t even have a receiving line and prefer to greet and chat with guests at the reception when there’s more time.
Post-ceremony formals usually take around an hour not including travel time between any locations or to the reception. I typically take around 20 minutes for family, 20 minutes for wedding party, and 20 minutes for the B+G, but it can vary. I suggest setting aside an extra 15-30 minutes in between if possible and if things don’t take that long, you have time to relax and enjoy being together and newly married for a few minutes! 😉
Things to think about for your reception- dinner, toasts, formal dances, garter/bouquet tosses, cake cutting, open dancing, grand exit, etc.
Don’t forget to plan out your travel time!!
Sample Wedding Timeline
9:30- Ladies arrive to salon- bridesmaids first
11:30- Photographer arrives, starts detail shots
11:50- Bride hair and makeup, photographer heads to guys at 12:15
12- Guys arrive to their prep location
12:30- Photographer arrive to guys’ prep, leaves at 1
1:15- Bride gets dressed, travel to ceremony venue
1:30- 2:30- Pre-ceremony formals/relax time
3:30- Receiving line
3:45- Formal photos/cocktail hour
5- Travel to reception
5:45- Entrance to reception
7- Cake cutting
7:15- Formal dances
7:30- Bouquet and garter tosses
7:45- Open dancing
9- Photographer leaves
This is just an example- every wedding day is different! To my brides- don’t hesitate to send me an email asking for advice or help- I’ve done this so many times, I know how much time to set aside to make sure we get great photos, and there’s no need to get frustrated trying to do it on your own! <3