June 29, 2020

The ultimate guide to your wedding day timeline

I wanted to write a post on wedding timelines because I know this is something everyone struggles on. When do you have your ceremony? How long do family formals take? We want to be able to stop at bars in between but don’t want to cut into portrait time. These are all possible questions and scenarios that happen when planning a wedding timeline.

Although having a good timeline is the cheapest AND easiest way to have a photogenic wedding, it seems to be the last detail that is planned. I wanted to make it easy for everyone and give examples of how you should be planning your big day from a photographer’s perspective.

All the timelines are going to be based on an 8-10 hour timeline because, in my opinion, that is the perfect amount of time you should be booking your wedding photographer in order to effectively photograph all the important moments and details of your wedding day. Also keep in mind that every wedding is different! Some require added time for travel, others may forego toasts and even dinner. Use this as a guide to mentally plan out your wedding day, then work with your photograph and planner to create a wedding day timeline specific to your wedding day. It will make a HUGE difference in how smoothly your day will go!

 

Spring/Summer Example With a First Look:

  • 8:00am – Bridal Party beings getting ready process
  • 12:30pm – Photographer arrives and begins photographing details
  • 2:15pm – Bride and Bridesmaids getting ready portraits
  • 2:30pm – Bridal Party is done getting ready and Bride gets in her dress
  • 3:15pm – Groom and Groomsmen getting ready portraits
  • 3:45pm – Bride & Groom first look & traditional portraits
  • 4:15pm – Wedding Party portraits
  • 5:00pm – Family Formal portraits (family should arrive by 4:45pm)
  • 5:30pm – Bride & Groom tuck away before ceremony
  • 6:00pm – Ceremony begins
  • 6:45pm – Wedding Party heads to reception or cocktail hour
  • 6:45pm – Bride & Groom sunset portraits
  • 7:15pm – Wedding Party grand entrance
  • 7:30pm – Toasts & Prayer
  • 8:00pm – Dinner is served
  • 9:00pm – Cake cutting and First Dance followed by Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dance
  • 9:15pm – Dancing begins
  • 10:00pm – Exit and Photographer Departs

 

Spring/Summer Example Without a First Look:

  • 8:00am – Bridal Party beings getting ready process
  • 1:00pm – Photographer arrives and begins photographing details
  • 2:30pm – Bride and Bridesmaids getting ready portraits
  • 3:00pm – Bridal Party is done getting ready and Bride gets in her dress
  • 3:30pm – Groom and Groomsmen getting ready portraits
  • 4:15pm – Bride & Father of Bride first look
  • 4:30pm – Bride, Groom, and wedding party tucked away before ceremony
  • 5:00pm – Ceremony Begins
  • 5:45pm – Family Formal portraits
  • 6:15pm – Wedding party portraits
  • 6:45pm – Bride and Groom portraits
  • 7:15pm – Wedding Party grand entrance
  • 7:30pm – Toasts & Prayer
  • 8:00pm – Dinner is served
  • 9:00pm – Cake cutting and First Dance followed by Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dance
  • 9:15pm – Dancing begins
  • 10:00pm – Exit and Photographer Departs

 

Keep in mind that these timelines do depend on the season and when sunset will be! For example, if you are having a sunset or a winter wedding I would HIGHLY recommend taking advantage of a first look. This will ensure that you don’t lose ANY daylight for portraits because that’s the first thing to happen and there’s no chance of it getting pushed back enough to sunset.

If you’re on the fence about having a first look, take a look at this blog post about why you should consider a first look to see if it would be a good option for you!

 

Fall/Winter Wedding Example with a First Look:

  • 7:00am – Bridal Party beings getting ready process
  • 11:30pm – Photographer arrives and begins photographing details
  • 1:15pm – Bride and Bridesmaids getting ready portraits
  • 1:30pm – Bridal Party is done getting ready and Bride gets in her dress
  • 2:15pm – Groom and Groomsmen getting ready portraits
  • 2:45pm – Bride & Groom first look & traditional portraits
  • 3:15pm – Wedding Party portraits
  • 4:00pm – Family Formal portraits (family should arrive by 4:45pm)
  • 4:30pm – Bride & Groom tuck away before ceremony
  • 5:00pm – Ceremony begins
  • 5:45pm – Wedding Party heads to reception or cocktail hour
  • 5:45pm – Bride & Groom sunset portraits
  • 6:15pm – Wedding Party grand entrance
  • 6:30pm – Toasts & Prayer
  • 7:00pm – Dinner is served
  • 8:00pm – Cake cutting and First Dance followed by Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dance
  • 8:15pm – Dancing begins
  • 9:00pm – Exit and Photographer Departs

 

Fall/Winter Wedding Example without a First Look:

  • 7:00am – Bridal Party beings getting ready process
  • 11:00pm – Photographer arrives and begins photographing details
  • 12:30pm – Bride and Bridesmaids getting ready portraits
  • 1:00pm – Bridal Party is done getting ready and Bride gets in her dress
  • 1:30pm – Groom and Groomsmen getting ready portraits
  • 2:15pm – Bride & Father of Bride first look
  • 2:30pm – Bride, Groom, and wedding party tucked away before ceremony
  • 3:00pm – Ceremony Begins
  • 3:30pm – Family Formal portraits
  • 4:00pm – Wedding party portraits
  • 4:30pm – Bride and Groom portraits
  • 5:00pm – Wedding Party grand entrance
  • 5:15pm – Toasts & Prayer
  • 6:00pm – Dinner is served
  • 7:00pm – Cake cutting and First Dance followed by Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dance
  • 7:15pm – Dancing begins
  • 8:00pm – Exit and Photographer Departs

 

In conclusion, no matter the time you start your ceremony or whether you choose to have a first look or not,  I would recommend allotting at least two (2) hours for capturing your portraits. This immediate family portraits, wedding party, and Bride/Groom portraits. But also keep in mind that if travel is needed between ceremony and reception venues or portrait locations, you will need to factor extra time before or after your ceremony for portraits.

Just a reminder, every wedding is different! If you have questions about your timeline, just ask your photographer! You have no idea how much we appreciate and love helping in the planning process of the wedding day, especially when it means providing you with the best experience to get the most out of your wedding portraits and investment! So touch base with your wedding photographer and work with them to create a specific and perfect timeline for your wedding day!

Don’t worry Bullard Brides, I always take care of you and we will work on your wedding day timeline together!

xoxo

loren

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