All of your details are coming together and you can’t wait for your photographer to create beautiful images from them. Your fiancé is planning to give his mother a special gift before the ceremony and of course, you want that captured. You would love to have at least 15 minutes before the ceremony to sit down and relax before you head down the aisle. All of these details are important to you, but in order to make them happen, you must plan ahead!
Here are some tips for planning a less stressful wedding day timeline.
This is how we generally set up your wedding day timeline. Knowing this will help you see how your details fit into a typical one-location, 8-hour wedding day schedule (times are just for an example).
2:00pm – photographer arrives, greets bride & groom, scouts locations
2:30pm – bride finishes hair & makeup, bridal party + MOB need to be dressed & ready, groom & groomsmen finish getting ready, photographer(s) shoot bride’s details
2:45pm – bride gets in wedding dress (MOB assists)
3:00pm – bridal party group shots & individuals with bride
3:30pm – bride shots alone
3:45pm – groomsmen party group shots & individuals with groom
4:00pm – bride & groom first look + portraits together
4:30pm – pre-ceremony photography complete, B+G relax, photographers shoot ceremony & reception details, guests start to arrive
5:00pm – ceremony
5:30pm – ceremony complete, family formals, cocktail hour
6:15pm – wedding party group shots
6:30 – B+G ready to enter reception
6:45pm – wedding party entrance, first dances, dinner served
7:45pm – toasts & dancing
8:45pm – garter removal, bouquet toss, cake cutting
9:45pm – grand exit (if planned)
10:00pm – photographer(s) depart
Some points to consider –
+ getting ready – It’s not uncommon for the groom’s dad/best man to be MIA when it comes time for group photos. Be sure to OVER-communicate with everyone the time they are to be present. Even fib and tell them they’re needed 15 minutes earlier than they really are so that they show up on time.
+ if dancing is a priority for you, lump your major reception events together (as seen above) for minimal interruptions
+ if you have a long list of family formals, try to consolidate. People go missing or Grandpa can’t move fast and it slows things down. Each grouping will take 2-3 minutes to complete. Just 20 groups can take about 40 minutes!
+ provide your photographer with the first names of everyone to be photographed during family formals. It is much easier to hear, “Bob!” than “Groom’s dad!” over a crowd of people. This should help speed things along.
+ if a fun B+G reception exit is important to you, please designate someone to coordinate it. This person should be sober and present during the exit. We have shot several weddings where guests lit most of the sparklers before the B+G were even outside, there weren’t enough guests remaining to make a sparkler exit look full, or the B+G took 15-30 minutes to exit the reception while we (& other guests) waited for them outside. If you took the time to find those perfect sparklers, then darn it, we want you to have that picture-perfect shot!
+ multiple locations – an 8-hour timeline is pretty tight with only one location for the ceremony and reception. If your day includes travel to different “getting ready” locations and/or ceremony/reception locations, we strongly recommend you add additional coverage time. You will be less stressed about cramming it all in and you’ll thank us for it!
+ food – just like anyone, we work better when we our tummies aren’t growling. In order to stay nimble, we will need a short break to eat during the reception. So that we aren’t off in another room eating when your dad starts a toast, it’s best that we eat when the wedding party eats.
+ details – if you have flowers, decorations and DIY details galore, we want to photograph that for you! This could take anywhere from 30 – 60 minutes, depending on what you have. Communicate with us so we may plan your timeline accordingly.
+ second photographers – when we can’t be in two places at once, we need an extra helper. If the timeline is tight and the groom is getting ready at a hotel 20 minutes from the bride, then we will either not be able to photograph him before the ceremony or we’ll need to send another photographer over there. If your coverage does not include a second photographer, talk to us about whether you may need one.
We hope that this has been a helpful planning resource for you! Feel free to comment with any questions you have!