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Your Wedding Timeline goes hand in hand with your wedding photography! Making sure you have sufficient time alotted for each portion of the day is a key part of capturing the memories and images that you’ve always dreamed of for your wedding day.
I’ll let you in on a little secret…wedding days ALWAYS fall behind schedule. It’s just a fact of life! This is why I like to pad some extra time into different parts of the day in order to guarantee that my couples have space to relax and take some deep breaths. That being said, here are some general minimum time guidelines for each portion of the wedding day:
You will want to have at least 30-45 minutes set aside for your wedding details. Every bride loves having beautiful shots of the “little things” that truly aren’t so little – they are what help bring your dream wedding to life! It’s an important part of your wedding day story, and I love having some time to shoot the dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, etc. I can usually get these done while stepping into the getting ready area and photographing the girls hanging out at the same time!
Set aside another 30-45 minutes for getting into your wedding dress. This is a big moment, and it can take 10mins or 45, you just never know! This is an area where we build in extra time just in case (hair and makeup is usually one of the parts of the day that falls behind schedule). I usually ask the Mother of the Bride and all of the bridesmaids to get dressed first so that everyone looks nice in these images. Once the bride is in her gown, we’ll shoot some bridal portraits. I love having a few minutes to capture just the bride in her gown!!
You will want to have 30 minutes built into your Wedding Day Timeline for a First Look. I know not everyone is in favor of Bride and Groom First Looks – but I absolutely love them, and I have a whole separate blog post for why you should consider it! That being said, a Bride & Groom First Looks is not the only type of First Look worth considering. If you want to save the moment of seeing each other for the aisle, you may want to consider doing a Daddy Daughter First Look, Bridesmaids First Look, or Fur Baby First Look instead! A First Look, no matter who it’s with, can be such an amazing moment in your day – it makes for beautiful memories and helps you shake off some of your nerves before the ceremony.
This part of the day is directly affected by whether or not you choose to do a Bride & Groom First Look. If you do, we will typically do Wedding Party Portraits directly following the First Look. I always capture just the bridesmaids, just the groomsmen, the entire group together and then individuals with the bride and groom separately. Even with my super fast workflow, this can take some time! If you don’t do a Bride & Groom First Look, we will probably build some time into the timeline before the ceremony for separate girls’ and guys’ pictures and then an additional time for portraits of the entire wedding party together after the ceremony. All together, Wedding Party Portraits need about 30-40 minutes.
This is the hardest part of the day as far as photography is concerned! I make it my mission to make family formals fast, easy and as efficient as possible. I recommend 30 minutes for family formals, immediately before or following the ceremony (this depends on whether you choose to do a Bride & Groom First Look). I will send a questionnaire before the wedding where you can list your must-have family combinations. We can always grab large group photos during the reception too!
I love having 30 minutes before the ceremony and 30 minutes after the ceremony. However, I know this is not always possible. My goal is to be able to give my couples some additional portraits that add a little extra variety from the ones that we took pre- ceremony! If you are not sharing a First Look, I cannot stress enough how important it is to at least have 30 minutes of portrait time after the ceremony! My favorite alternative to a First Look is to steal my bride and groom away from the reception for a Sunset Stroll so that they can have some time to pause from the busyness of the day and soak in some of their first moments as Husband and Wife.
It’s time to get the party started! Most of my couples choose to begin their Reception with a Wedding Party Entrance, followed by cutting the cake, and speeches before dinner is served. Each of these individual events go by pretty quickly, but collectively it’s a safe bet to set aside about 30 minutes for the Reception Kickoff.
Your First Couple Dance, Daddy Daughter Dance, Mother Son Dance, Anniversary Dance, Wedding Party Dance…you might choose to have just one, or all of these! Plan on roughly 5 minutes per dance and add on 20-30 minutes for Open Dance Floor shots.
There you have it – the building blocks for a perfect Wedding Day Timeline! To get a free PDF version of these tips AND two sample timelines (one with a First Look and one without), provide your email address below:
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