How to put together your Wedding Timeline

Wedding Day Timeline
Having a timeline for your wedding day is, in my opinion, imperative.  In figuring out your timeline, it will tell you exactly how many hours you need your photographer, keep everyone on schedule and help eliminate confusion.  Do yourself a wedding day favor and have a wedding day timeline. You will not regret it!

My advice on creating your  wedding day timeline is coming from personal experience in shooting weddings from 5 hours to 11 hours. I have a lot of impute on what might work best for you. So let’s start planning your day.

There are 3 questions you should ask yourself before drafting your wedding day timeline.
1. Are you and your honey seeing each other before the ceremony?
2. Are you wanting your photographer there to getting ready photos?
3. Are you having a dance?

If you answered all three questions with a yes, let’s continue.

Getting Ready Photos: I like to suggest allowing 45 minutes to 1 hour for getting ready.  This allows time for your photographer to photograph details such as jewelry, candids, hair & make up, wedding dress and getting into your wedding dress.  Allow enough time in case there are any shortcomings.

Bride & Groom Portraits:  Once you are ready and in your wedding day attire, you’ll want to see your honey.  Have a first look location in mind.  If you are unsure, your photographer will be more than happy to scope out a beautiful location. Allow 1 hour for you and your spouse-to-be for portraits.  You’ll want this time not to be rushed but relaxed so block off some good time.

Wedding Party: Have on the timeline for wedding party arrive 15 minutes prior to start time. This way, if you have any wonders they technically should have enough time to get there.  Allow about 30-45 minutes for the wedding party.  If you have a large or out going wedding party, it’s always nice to communicate to them about cooperation during photos.  It makes for a smooth fun time and you can make sure you get the images that you want. Win win!

Family Photos:  After the wedding party photos, move right into the family photos.  Same thing with the family photos, have them arrive 15 minutes prior to start time.   Allow about 30 minutes for these photos. Your photographer should provide you with a must have photo list for the family photos.  This list will make for smooth transitions through each family grouping.  With all the family dynamic present, it’s nice to know who is who and to call them up for photos one at a time. In preparation for the ceremony block off 30 minutes to freshen up, have a bite to eat and relax while your guests start arriving.

Ceremony:  Talk with the Pastor that is marring you and your spouse-to-be.  Keep in mind the timing of the music, readings and vows.  Typically ceremonies can last anywhere from 20 mins to an hour and 20 mins.  So it’s important to cover this alloted block of time.
Receiving line:  This is an important one as most couples honestly don’t realize that this portion can eat up a good 20-30 mins of your timeline.  So decide what you will do and add this to your timeline accordingly.

Cocktail:  This is always the fun time.  Some weddings take this time to take more photos together.  If you did not answer the beginning questions with all yes’s than you will want to allow an hour and half to photograph the remaining photos that you didn’t get before the ceremony; such as the remaining family photos, remaining wedding party photos and of course the bride and groom photos.

Dinner-Reception-Dance: Consider your toasts and speeches.  How many are there?  How long will they be speaking?  Just a few things to consider.  As for the dance, you know your friends best and will know if there is going to be a sweet dance party happening.  Prehaps there will be a dance off?  Or maybe there will be a Hora.  These are events that need to be considered for your timeline.  Typically, allow 15-20 mins for the first dances and 30-45 mins for the remaining dance party.  Exit:  Will there be an exit that you would like photographed? Sparklers?  Make sure you put this in the timeline for photography coverage purposes.

In a nutshell, if you have a photographer for 8 hours and you follow the above timeline, this is what it could look like.  You can customize your personal wedding timeline from there.

1:00pm -2:00pm Getting Ready Photos
2:00pm – 3:00pm  First Look/ Bride and Groom Photos
3:30pm – 4:00pm Wedding Party Photos
4:00pm – 4:30pm Family Photos
4:30pm – 5:00pm Relax
5:00pm – 5:30pm Ceremony
5:30pm – 6:30pm Cocktail hour
6:30pm – 7:30pm Dinner
7:30pm – 8:00pm Speeches/Toast/Cake cutting
8:00pm – 9:00pm Dance starts
9:00pm Photography ends

IF you will not seeing each other prior to the ceremony see this timeline and make it your own.

1:00pm – 2:00pm Getting Ready Photos
2:00pm – 2:30pm  Bride & Bridesmaids
2:30pm – 3:00pm Groom & Grooms men
3:00pm – 3:15pm Groom & Family
3:15pm – 3:30pm Bride & Family
3:30pm – 4:00pm Relax
4:000pm – 4:30pm Ceremony
4:30pm – 5:00pm  Remaining Family Photos
5:00pm – 6:30pm Cocktail Hour
5:00pm – 5:30pm Remaining Wedding Party Photos
5:30pm – 6:30pm Bride & Groom Photos
6:30pm – 7:30pm Dinner
7:30pm – 8:00pm Speeches/Toast/Cake cutting
8:00pm – 9:00pm Dance starts
9:00pm Photography ends

Happy timeline drafting!!!!


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