I have had such a joy photographing weddings for the last five years. Every wedding has been different and so unique to each couple. It’s been an honor, truly. By no means am I an expert in planning a wedding and I highly recommend hiring a planner to help the day go smoothly.
There’s a few things to think about when planning out your timeline:
- Do you want to see your bride/groom before the ceremony. A first look can help speed up post ceremony pictures and calm any last minute nerves. I’ve also blogged about it here.
- Which parts of the day do you want to focus on? For some, it’s important to have more coverage of getting ready and details. Others enjoy photographs through the very last dance. Do you want to have a bigger variety of just bride & groom pictures? Allow more time for the parts of the day you want to focus on.
- How will the lighting be throughout the day? Do you want softer lighting and cocktail hour just as it’s getting dark?
Most of the questions I often receive are based around, “How long should we set aside for each part of the day?”
Here’s a general guideline! :)
Getting Ready (1.5 hours)
Getting ready images is one of my favorite parts of the day. There is so much excitement as everyone arrives and starts getting into their dresses. There is so much laughter and quiet tender moments as the bride gets into her dress. I recommend planning for my arrival at least one hour prior of getting into your dress. This gives me time to take pictures of just your dress / shoes / jewelry, etc. Hair is usually finished and last minute makeup is being applied. If the guys are getting ready nearby, I also like to sneak over to take a few quick shots. I’ve also blogged about getting ready tips!
The First Look (20 min)
If you choose to do a first look, I recommend setting aside 20 minutes. I recommend an area that’s quiet and secluded for the two of you. Take these few minutes to breathe. Laugh together. Cry together. Embrace the moment and all the emotions.
Bridal Party (30 minutes)
I love exploring the venue with bridal parties. Depending on the size of your bridal party, you may want to schedule more time just to make sure everyone gets an individual picture with the bride/groom.
Family Portraits (30 minutes)
From my experience, it’s easier to do all the family pictures right after the ceremony. Simply ask all family to stay put after the ceremony. Family portraits are carefully coordinated so they go by super quickly! Often times, it’s having to find a family member that’s wandered off that makes family portraits last much much longer.
Bride & Groom Portraits (30 min)
These are the moments from the day that will be most likely be framed. Bride & Groom Portraits is one of those moments. Whether you decide to have portraits before the ceremony or after, I highly encourage you to make sure time is set aside for these moments. If you’re interested in having outdoor portraits, I recommend having images taken around 1.5 hours – 1 hour before sunset. That’s when the sun is low in the sky and gives beautiful back lighting and golden hues. Swoon.
Here’s an example 8 hour timeline with a first look:
2:00 – getting ready
3:30 – first look
3:45 – bridal party portraits
4:30 – everyone is tucked away. guests begin to arrive
5:00 – ceremony begins
5:30 – family portraits / bride + groom portraits
6:45 – reception begins / grand entrance/ first dance/ blessing
7:00 – dinner (allow guests to eat without interruption for 45 minutes)
7:45 – toasts & special dances
8:00 – open dancing
8:30/9 – cake cutting/ more open dancing
10pm – exit (or staged exit)
Let me know if you have any questions! I’m always happy to help. :)