How to Design Your Wedding Day Timeline
Creating and designing a wedding day timeline
A solid wedding day timeline can be one of the most important pieces to consider when planning your wedding. And it is something your photographer and other wedding vendors will ask for. If you haven't hired a wedding planner to help you with this piece you may have to figure it out on your own. And if you haven't planned a wedding before you may not know what to expect from your wedding day.
As a wedding photographer I have put together many wedding day timelines throughout the years. It's a great resource for me to have during the wedding day as I know what to expect and when so I don't miss photographing important moments. But it also helps me in guiding my couples throughout the day so they don't have to worry about anything.
Also, a solid wedding day timeline can be helpful to share with anyone participating in the wedding. From parents to bridal party, to different vendors hired for the day, to guests attending the wedding. They all will need to know when certain things are happening and when to be prepared for the things they are there for.
So let's take a minute and break it down together. Below I've listed some of the biggest moments throughout the day to help you figure out how to structure your wedding day. Knowing this will also help you plan for how many hours you want your wedding photographer to stay for as well. Sign up for my newsletter below to receive a great template to print and keep for easy planning. Please keep in mind this is from a photographer perspective to help plan your pictures for the day.
Let's start at the beginning
Usually I like to show up when the bride is almost finished with her hair and makeup. I like to capture some images of her in the makeup chair getting the final pieces put together.
This is also when I would do pictures of the bride and groom details, like dress having, shoes and any jewelry.
It's a great way to ease into the pictures of the day. And to document some of the anticipation you share with your friends at the start of your wedding day.
Time: Usually about 60 minutes total if you have two photographers that can split up between the two getting ready rooms. You may need more time if you only hired one photographer and want pictures of both of you.
What to prepare: Have your dress out and hanging on any special hanger you want to use. Put the shoes, veil and jewelry in one spot so it's easy to grab. Ask your florist to have the flowers delivered at this time. It's also fun if you have your invitation suite ready to be photographed.
I am a big advocate for first looks. It's a very intimate and personal time during a day that will otherwise be filled with people. It's also a great way to convey genuine emotion without the nerves and stress of a full wedding audience watching.
In addition, it helps with getting most of the wedding portraits done prior to the ceremony. That way you have more time to greet and enjoy time with your guests.
Time: About 30 minutes for the first look and some additional couple portraits.
Where: This is a moment reserved for the couple alone. While family and friends are just as excited, it's nice for the two of you to do this at an intimate location.
Now there are multiple portraits to be captured throughout the day. There are portraits of the couple by themselves. Together with their wedding party. As well as family portraits. If a first look is done I try to get the couple portraits and the wedding party portraits done prior to the ceremony.
Family portraits are usually done right after the ceremony so grandparents and children can attend without getting too tired or restless.
I am also known for sneaking my couples out around sunset for some beautiful golden hour sunset pictures. This is my favorite time of the day and so much fun for you!
Time: All in all it's about 3 hours of your wedding day that can and will be spend on portraits. These are usually not consecutive but split up throughout the day.
Where: Planning out locations prior to the wedding day will help keep everything organized and on time. Also note that multiple locations will add more time to your wedding day.
Ceremony & Reception details
As a wedding photographer it's nice to have some timed carved out to capture the ceremony and reception details. I usually try to be at the ceremony site about 30-45 minutes prior to ceremony start. This way I can get some good images of the setup before guests start arriving.
The same with your reception location. I like to get in there right after it's done being setup and right before the guests arrive. These clean overview shots will be really nice for you to have and look back on later in your wedding album.
Time: 30-45 prior to Ceremony and 20-30 minuted prior to guests being allowed into reception hall.
Now these are only some of the things to consider for your day. There are definitely more events throughout the day that need to be accounted for when planning your wedding day timeline. Ask your wedding photographer or wedding planner for tips on how to schedule your big day.