How to Create Your Ideal Wedding Day Timeline and Make the Most of Your Pictures

Wedding Photography Timeline

Unless you’re a Disney princess, you probably weren’t born knowing how to plan a wedding. You’ve probably never been married before and might have no idea where to start. Even if you’ve had Pinterest boards up the wazoo, it’s still a learning curve when it comes time to actually make your day-of schedule and put together all those moving parts.

We’re here to break the silence and make sure there are no secrets when it comes to planning your wedding. One of our duties is to help you come up with the most ideal time line for your unique celebrations and make sure you get the best pictures possible.

Currently, we offer 3 packages – a 6 hour, an 8 hour, and a 10 hour package. We’ve created some sample timelines with an arbitrary ceremony time of 3:00. This time might change depending on the time of year and venue rules. Let’s go through them.

Wedding Photography Timeline

8 hours of coverage

This is our sweet spot. 8 hours feels like it’s just enough time to capture everything while you have time to enjoy your day and not feel rushed. You and your bridal party and family can be a bit more laid back. It accounts for events running late and gives us the opportunity to step back and capture all the details that make your story feel whole.

1:00 | Getting Ready Pictures + Individual Bride + Groom Portraits
2:00 | Bridal Party + Available Family Portraits
2:30 | You hide while your guests arrive + we capture ceremony details + guest candids
3:00 | Ceremony
3:30 | Bride + Groom Portraits
4:10 | Bridal Party All Together Pics
4:20 | Family All Together Pics
4:40 | You enjoy cocktail hour while we capture reception details
5:00 | Reception Begins – Introduction, First Dance, and Toasts
5:30 | Dinner
7:00 | Mother/Son + Father/Daughter Dances
7:15 | Dance Party!
8:00 | Cake Cutting
9:00 | Photo Coverage Ends

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6 hours of coverage

Now, compare that to a 6 hour day. You’ll see that a lot of the elements are the same, but it is a more “smooshed” schedule. We advise that the 6 hour package be for those who know they can stick to a strict timeline and don’t have to travel, as there isn’t much room for wiggling.

2:00 | “Mock” Getting Ready Pictures + Individual Bride + Groom Portraits
2:30 | You hide while your guests arrive and we capture ceremony details and guest candids
3:00 | Ceremony
3:30 | Bride + Groom Portraits
4:00 | Bridal Party Pics
4:20 | Formal Family Pics
4:45 | You enjoy cocktail hour while we capture reception details
5:00 | Reception Begins – Introduction, First Dance, + Toasts
5:30 | Dinner
7:00 | Mother/Son + Father/Daughter Dances
7:15 | Dance Party!
7:45 | Cake Cutting
8:00 | Photo Coverage Ends

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10 hours of coverage

The 10 hour package is a good choice if there’s a lot of traveling between getting ready, the ceremony, and the reception location. It’s also useful if you have anything special planned for the morning of your wedding like giving bridesmaids their gifts or if you want us to stay until the very end of your reception for a sparkler exit.

Usually, we find that we don’t need to stay until the bitter end of the evening. After a while, the dancing pictures start to look very similar and your guests start to get sloppier. Unless you’re planning on doing some kind of special send off that you’d like photographed, we don’t need to stay.

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The First Look Timeline – 8 hours of coverage

Now, everything changes when you decide to have a first look. The reasons why you may or may not want to have a first look will come in a future blog post, but for now, just know that it can help maximize your party time by frontloading all the pictures before the ceremony. Here’s what a typical 8 hour photo coverage day can look like if you choose to have a first look.

12:30 | Getting Ready Pictures
1:00 | First Look + Individual Bride + Groom Portraits
1:30 | Bridal Party Pics
2:00 | Formal Family Pics
2:30 | You hide while your guests arrive and we capture ceremony details and guest candids
3:00 | Ceremony
3:30 | Steal away for a few minutes for more alone time + Portraits
3:50 | You enjoy cocktail hour while we capture reception details and cocktail hour candids
5:00 | Reception Begins – Introduction, First Dance, + Toasts
5:30 | Dinner
7:00 | Mother/Son + Father/Daughter Dances
7:15 | Dance party!
8:00 | Cake Cutting
8:30 | Photo Coverage Ends

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Considerations for the rest of your day’s timeline:

Your Venue:

Talk to your venue about what time you’re allowed to be there. Some give full day access while others might just give you access 2 hours beforehand. Also make sure you know what time you’re supposed to be out and what clean up (if any) is expected of you. Note that the bar might close earlier in some locations or there might be a town noise ordinance your venue has to follow.

Your Hair + Make Up Stylists:

Make sure your HMU stylist knows how many girls you’re having done up and how elaborate their looks will be. She’ll probably suggest doing a trial so that she can time out how long it will take to get the look you’re going for. They’ll be able to tell you when they’ll have to start to make sure you get to the church on time. Consider allowing your gal to bring along assistants and associates so more than one person can be done up at a time. Grooms are beginning to realize the benefits of a pre-wedding pamper. Talk to your man and stylists about what options they might be interested in and how you can fit it into the morning.

Your Caterer:

Will your dinner be sit down or buffet? Ask your caterer how long will be needed for all your guests to get fat and happy. We would also appreciate you letting your caterer know that we should eat when you two eat. Too often, we are fed at the very end of the dinner when the Father/Daughter dance or speeches are starting. This causes us to sit and wait while everyone is eating (no one wants pictures of themselves eating) and then gobble up our meal, or not eat at all, so we can get back to the dance floor to take pictures. Unlike other vendors, we need to be synched up with what you’re doing so we don’t miss anything.

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Transportation:

The timelines above are assuming that getting ready, the ceremony, and the reception are all happening at the same location. You’ll need to account for travel time if this isn’t the case. How will you be getting from one place to another? How long does it take? Who’s driving? Will you be hiring someone? Taking a hotel shuttle? Borrowing your friend’s sick VW bus? Make sure everyone involved knows what time they need to be where. Leave some extra time in case there’s traffic. Map it out and even take the route for a test drive. Some of our biggest pieces of advice is to keep travel on your wedding day to a minimum.

Food:

Seriously. When will you be eating? If you’re getting ready during breakfast or lunch time, who’s gonna feed you and your bridal party? Where are you getting the food from? Who’s going to bring you a snack during cocktail hour? Make sure you are the first in line for the buffet when dinner is served. Eat eat eat. And drink lots of water all day. Make time for it.

Sunset:

Look up when sunset is on your specific date and consider where your ceremony is taking place. If outside in October, you probably want an earlier afternoon ceremony instead of some time after sunset when it can get chilly and dark. If we’re taking the portraits mostly after the ceremony, “golden hour”, or about an hour or two before sunset, gives us the most glorious light.

A Day-Of Coordinator:

One of the best decisions we made for our own wedding was having a day-of coordinator. We didn’t hire a planner, but we knew that having someone there who could keep everything on time during the day would be imperative. At the very least, make sure that you have appointed people who can wrangle your family members for pictures and bring you snacks and drinks.

If you’re craving more wedding advice, make sure to follow us on INSTAGRAM and check out our other posts, like this one on WRITING YOUR OWN WEDDING VOWS.

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