THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PLANNING THE PERFECT WEDDING DAY TIMELINE

The structure of your wedding timeline is incredibly important in setting the tone of your wedding day. It can either add stress or create relaxation. Having a well thought out and intentionally planned timeline in place for your wedding will allow the day to unfold seamlessly, and ensure you have enough time to capture all of the special moments while also enjoying the day with your guests. Below are some helpful things to consider when planning your day-of schedule.

Consider Having a First Look

Are you planning on sticking to tradition by seeing each other for the first time at the wedding ceremony? Or will you choose to incorporate a first look into your day? Should you choose to opt for a first look, you will see each other before the ceremony itself and enjoy a few quiet moments together before the wedding day kicks off.

One driving force behind first looks is the ability to capture all of the wedding party and newlywed portraits before the ceremony. This allows the bride and groom to enjoy cocktail hour with their guests immediately after the vows, instead of sneaking out to photograph wedding party and newlywed portraits. This also allows your guests to go directly from the ceremony, to cocktail hour without an awkward break throughout the day. 

Should you instead choose to stick to tradition and see each other for the first time at the ceremony itself, the time immediately after the recessional is vital. Planned efficiently you will be able to capture all of the must-have photographs (family formals, wedding party, newlywed portraits) in a timely manner. Once this is complete you will join your guests a few hours later at the reception.

Timing Tips

Be aware of the amount of time required for each part of the day. To be sure your approximations are realistic, speak with your vendors to gather their thoughts. If you are travelling to multiple locations for your ceremony, portraits and reception be sure to add in buffer time for the travel required. 

Any family formals should ideally be taken immediately after the ceremony, this is when all your family is together in one place. To make sure no one scurries off, have your priest or officiant make an announcement before your recession reminding immediate family members to stick around for family formals that will be photographed immediately after the ceremony.

If you are looking to have additional newlywed portraits captured throughout the day, research what time sunset will occur on the day-of your wedding (Time and Date is a great resource for this). Plan for a quick 15 minute portrait session during your reception between courses at this time. 

Distribute Your Timeline

Once your day-of wedding timeline is complete in full, fire it off to all of your team of vendors first for their review. Once you've received the green light from your dream team, it is time to distribute the wedding agenda widely. All of your vendors, wedding party, and immediate family members should be sent the final copy of your schedule for their reference.

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Looking for a sample wedding timeline to act as a guide when creating your own? Look no further. Below you will find a sample timeline based around a wedding incorporating a first look and 10 hours of wedding photography coverage. This schedule is meant to act as a framework when building your own day-of schedule.

 

Keep on scrolling to check 'er out!

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Approximate Times

Below I have included the recommended amount of time to dedicate to each aspect of the wedding day, making it ideal for your photographer to capture all of the important moments.

Details & Prep : 1.5 Hours
First Look: 15 Minutes
Wedding Party : 45 Minutes
Newlywed Portraits : 45 Minutes
Family Formals: 30 Minutes
Additional Portraits (Sunset Session): 20 Minutes

Sample Wedding Day Timeline

This sample timeline includes a first look and is based around 10 hours of wedding photography coverage assuming that the ceremony and reception are occurring at the same location. The schedule can be altered to best suit your needs and unique wedding details. All times are approximate.

BREAKFAST, HAIR & MAKE UP 8:00 AM - 11:00 AM  

PHOTOGRAPHER ARRIVES 11:00 AM

DETAILS 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM
As your hair and make up team is working on the finishing touches, your photographer will arrive and begin photographing your bridal details. This includes your dress, veil, bouquet, shoes, invitation suite... etc. Any special heirlooms you are especially looking forward to having photographed should be set aside so they are not overlooked.

INTO THE DRESS & PORTRAITS 11:30PM - 12:30PM
Once the details have been captured and your hair and make up is on fleek it is time to step into that beautiful gown. Allot at least 30 minutes to get your dress and jewelry on, with help from your Mother or bridesmaids. When this is complete classic bridal portraits can be captured before heading out.

TRAVEL TO FIRST LOOK LOCATION 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM

FIRST LOOK 1:00PM - 1:15PM
It is time to see you beloved for the first time on your wedding day! Choose a secluded area for your first look. Your photographer will likely advise an ideal location to make the most of this time. You may wish to have your wedding party join in on the first look, or enjoy this intimate moment alone.

WEDDING PARTY PORTRAITS 1:15PM - 2:00 PM
Portraits of your wedding party will be photographed following the first look. These can be captured at the venue itself, or if time permits, a nearby location you find particularly beautiful. Wedding party portraits include a combination of the bride and her bridesmaids, followed by the groom and his groomsmen and a few large group portraits of the fully wedding party all together. 

NEWLYWED PORTRAITS 2:00PM - 2:45 PM
Once the wedding party shots have been photographed the bridesmaids and groomsmen are free to head off and enjoy some down time before the ceremony. Following their departure, the newlywed portraits will be photographed. 

TRAVEL TIME TO CEREMONY LOCATION 2:45 - 3:15 PM

DOWN TIME/FRESHEN UP BEFORE CEREMONY 3:15 PM - 4:00 PM

CEREMONY 4:00 PM - 4:30 PM

FAMILY FORMALS 4:30 - 5:00 PM
Dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes for family formals to be photographed. A list of groupings should be sent to your photographer ahead of time to assist with organization and make certain all desired shots are captured. Scheduling this to occur immediately after the ceremony is ideal, as all family members required for these shots should be nearby at this time. Pro tip: Ask your priest or officiant to make an announcement advising all family members stick around for formals which will be photographed once the ceremony has commenced.

COCKTAIL HOUR 4:30PM - 6:00PM
If possible, host your cocktail hour and reception in different rooms to be sure your details are not disturbed by guests at this time. Your photographer will have the opportunity to sneak into the reception area during this time to capture the details of the room, untouched.

RECEPTION 6:00PM

INTRODUCTIONS & FIRST DANCE 6:15 PM
Scheduling your first dance to occur right after you are introduced at the reception is ideal. Guests are all in the same room at this point, attentive, and in good spirits. After your first dance you may choose to transition right into the dinner service or enjoy a few songs with your guests before the first course is served.

BLESSING & DINNER 6:30PM

SPEECHES, PARENT DANCES & CAKE CUTTING ~ 6:30 - 8:30 PM
These events will occur throughout your dinner service. Stagger speeches and each parent dance to maintain your guests attention and not overwhelm with too many things at once.

SUNSET PORTRAITS 8:15PM - 8:30 PM
Sneaking off between courses for a quick 15-20 minute portrait session at sunset is encouraged. Not only will your photographer capture images with that romantic, warm, sunset glow, but you will also be able to enjoy a few moments alone as husband and wife. This is ideal during the spring and summer months when the sun sets later in the evening. 

DANCE FLOOR OPENS & PHOTOGRAPHY COVERAGE ENDS 9:00PM

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