The timeline is probably the BIGGEST thing most of my couples complain about. It’s stressful. I mean, you’re planning not only the largest party you’ll ever host, but you’re also in charge of telling family members and your wedding party where they need to be and when. I put together a few tips for planning your wedding day timeline for a stress-free and easy day. Enjoy!
The ceremony is what you’ll base your entire day around. Makes sense right? I mean it is what the wedding day is all about anyways. Start with your ceremony time and work from there to figure out what’s happening before the ceremony and what’s happening after the ceremony. If you are starting with a blank slate and really get to decide when you want the ceremony to be, this is great! Just Google the sunset time or use this sunset calculator for your wedding date in the city your wedding is taking place at. If you have a say in your ceremony start time, I recommend having it start about 2 hours before the sunset time that day. This will give you pretty light, but also allow enough time for portraits afterward.
If your wedding day has multiple locations or if we are traveling in the city with rush hour traffic, don’t forget to account for travel time. Maybe you are getting ready at your parents’ home or a hotel. Be sure to look up how long it takes to get to your ceremony space and adjust accordingly. If you are wanting to travel in an Uber or limo to a portrait location somewhere nearby, awesome! You will just want to make sure to incorporate those travel times into your day.
Sure, your ceremony might end sooner than expected or you might cruise through wedding party portraits, but always round up in your timeline and keep some wiggle room time in there in case things don’t go as planned. You and your photographer can always make up for lost time by having some wiggle room sprinkled in!
I provide all of my couples with a wedding photography timeline that outlines how long things usually take on a wedding day, but if I’m not your wedding photographer, definitely talk to yours and ask her/him how long each part of the day takes to photograph. Here’s a rough draft of what I provide my couples with. All wedding days differ, but here’s a sample 8 hour day with the getting ready location, ceremony and reception all happening at one location. This timeline also incorporates a first look.
1:00 – 2:00 – PHOTOGRAPHER ARRIVES, PHOTOGRAPHS DETAILS
2:00 – 2:45 – BRIDAL PREP/GET DRESSED
2:45 – 3:00 – FIRST LOOK
3:00 – 3:30 – COUPLE PORTRAITS
3:30 – 3:45 – BRIDESMAID PORTRAITS
3:45 – 4:00 – GROOMSMEN PORTRAITS
4:00 – 4:15 – WEDDING PARY PORTRAITS
4: 15 – 5:00 – FAMILY PORTRAITS (Immediate family only usually takes 30 minutes, but if you also want extended family photos, account for 45 minutes to allow a little extra wiggle room. For Family Formal tips, check out this blog post.)
5:00 – 5:30 – HIDE, REST AND RETOUCH BEFORE CEREMONY
5:30 – 6:00 – CEREMONY
6:00 – 7:00 – COCKTAIL HOUR
6:45 – 7:00 – A FEW JUST MARRIED SUNSET PORTRAITS
7:00 – 9:00 – RECEPTION
Winter weddings are gorgeous! However, they do take some additional planning simply because of the sunset time. The hard part about a winter timeline is the fact that the sun sets around 4pm. This means that all of your portraits have to be done before then! This isn’t a problem if you’re having a late afternoon wedding. However, if you’re planning on having a late evening wedding, you may have a bit of down time from 4pm until the start of the ceremony. That’s not a problem at all! You could always rent a part bus or limo and ride around for a bit with your wedding party. Having a cocktail hour and an earlier dinner is also an option. Teresa and Ryan had a winter wedding and we used that “downtime” to take additional portraits.