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January 30, 2018

Wedding Day Timeline Tips | Tips for Brides

The Wedding Day Timeline

Out of all of the weddings that I’ve photographed, I have found that one of the things that my brides get the most stressed about is the timeline! I mean, let’s be real. You probably haven’t done this before! But I’ve found that over the past few years of photographing weddings, I have the wedding day timeline memorized like the back of my hand! I want to note that there are two general timelines that you can work off depending on if you decide to do a first look or wait to see each other at the altar!

Wedding Day Timeline with a First Look

If you’re unsure of what a “first look” is, in short, it’s where the bride & groom have a special reveal to each other before the ceremony! If you decide to do a first look, we would be able to get almost all of the portraits done before the ceremony! To read more about the first look, check out a blog post I wrote about it here! This schedule is based on a 4:00PM ceremony time.

12:30 – Details & Getting Ready Photos

1:30 – First Look & Formal photos of Bride and Groom

2:30 – Wedding Party Formal Photos

3:00 – Family Formal Photos

3:30 – Bride in Hiding

4:00 – Ceremony

4:30 – Ceremony Ends/Cocktail Hour Begins

5:30 – Reception Begins
• Grand Entrance
• Dinner & Toasts
• Formal Dances
• Cake Cutting
• Bouquet & Garter Toss
• Open Dancing

8:00 – Special Portraits
• Sunset Photos (May-Sept)
• Night Portraits (Oct-April)

Wedding Day Timeline WITHOUT a First Look

This is a general timeline dedicated to the couples that choose to wait until the altar to see each other! With that said, I still do as much as I can before the ceremony which would mean photographing the bride & bridesmaids, groom & groomsmen, and various family photos separate from each other so during cocktail hour, we only have to get the group shots and then focus the rest of the time we have with the bride & groom! This schedule is based on a 4:00PM ceremony time.

2:00 – Details & Getting Ready Photos

3:00 – Bride & Bridesmaids Photos

3:30 – Bride’s Family Photos

2:45 – Groom & Groomsmen Photos

3:15 – Groom’s Family Photos

3:30 – Bride in Hiding

4:00 – Ceremony

4:30 – Ceremony Ends/Cocktail Hour Begins

4:40 – Remaining wedding party group photos & remaining family group photos

5:00 – Bride & Groom formal photos

5:30 – Reception Begins
• Grand Entrance
• Dinner & Toasts
• Formal Dances
• Cake Cutting
• Bouquet & Garter Toss
• Open Dancing

8:00 – Special Portraits
• Sunset Photos (May-Sept)
• Night Portraits (Oct-April)

This is just a general idea and can be adjusted. Let’s break it down to the details to explain what every aspect of the day is! I’ll be using Teague & Brittany’s wedding as examples!

The Details

Detail photos are one of my favorite parts of the day because they set the tone for how the rest of the day will look! I carefully will take and photograph all of those special details like the wedding rings, the jewelry, the dress, the shoes, etc! It helps me really get into my zone for the day, too!

Wedding Day Timeline Tips | Tips for Brides

 

Getting Ready

When it comes to the getting ready photos, I really like to photograph those ending stages! I have told past brides before that having me at the beginning of your getting ready process isn’t the biggest bang for your buck because there truly is only so many photos I can take of you getting makeup applied! I love coming at the end of the getting ready stage (so about an hour before we plan to start doing photos whether it’s the first look or bridal party photos). I’ll get those last minute hair & makeup touch ups and then, of course, the special photos of the bride getting buttoned into her dress!

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The First Look

Once I arrive on site (I actually generally will arrive to the venue about 30 minutes before my scheduled time!), I’ll start looking around for locations that would be ideal for a first look. I take into account lighting, backdrops, and privacy to ensure your special moment is beautiful & goes uninterrupted! Once I decide on a spot, I’ll run it by the bride & groom to make sure that works for them and we’ll go from there! I always set up the groom first and have him facing the opposite direction of where the bride will be coming from. From there, I’ll grab the bride, get into my position, and let the magic happen by her going and tapping him on the shoulder! I always like to wait to avoid interrupting their moment until they tell me that they’re ready for the formal portraits! If you’re not planning on having a First Look, just ignore this part!!

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Bride & Groom Formals

Of course, I love all aspects to wedding days but this is my favorite thing to photograph: the photos of the bride & groom! We often will hang around the venue and take photos but sometimes go off-site to somewhere nearby if there’s a great spot! In Teague & Brittany’s case, there was a gorgeous flower field right down the street that we drove over to! I love these photos because these are the ones that you’ll frame and hang on your walls or print into albums!

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Wedding Party Formals

This aspect of portraits is so important because it showcases your most important people! These are the people you chose to stand beside you on one of the most important days of your lives! I will photograph the bride & bridesmaids, the groom & groomsmen, and then the wedding party photo together! The only thing I ask is that everyone pays attention and is cooperative so we can get through it as efficiently as possible!

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Family Formals

These are also very important and special because it’s with your family! I usually will suggest keeping it to immediate family + grandparents for these photos and then saving extended family for when we have extra time at the reception. But, of course, it’s entirely up to you! I will ask you for a list of combinations before the wedding so I have something to read off of! But, even if you don’t get to it, don’t worry! I’ll make sure that we get all the combinations you were hoping for!

Wedding Day Timeline Tips | Tips for Brides

 

Ceremony

Ah, what we all were anticipating! The ceremony!! During this time, I’m just photographing the real candid moments! During the processional, I will be up at the beginning of the altar so I can quickly capture photos of the bride walking down the aisle as well as the reaction of the groom. From there, I will generally hang out in the aisle for the rest of the ceremony and capture all those special moments of you two saying your “I Do’s”!

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Cocktail Hour

For couples who are having a first look:

If you’re planning on having a cocktail hour, it’s often great because this will give us an opportunity to catch up on any photos that might have had to been pushed back due to timing restrictions! I’m very adamant about the bride being in hiding no later than 30 minutes before the ceremony as guests start to start arriving then. So if the day is running a little bit behind (which is no big deal, that’s so normal!), I will sometimes push family photos to after the ceremony and we will photograph them during cocktail hour! However, if we don’t run into that, then you can go enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests!

For couples who are not having a first look:

I would HIGHLY suggest having a dedicated cocktail hour time if you’re not having a first look because this would be the time we would take to photograph your formal photos! I usually will try to get what I can done before the ceremony (see timeline above!) so this would just leave the group wedding party and family photos and then the rest of the time is dedicated to the two of you!!

Reception

Truthfully, I’m just here taking photos of all the events that are happening! The only direction you will receive from me is maybe where to stand during speeches that is best for lighting! Otherwise, I’m just there taking photos of everything happening!! And of course, I’m more than happy to take any photos that you would like (maybe of you and some guests) at any point so never feel like you can’t ask! I’m here for YOU!

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Sunset Photos/Night Photos

Sunset photos are generally most common in my summer weddings! The sun sets a lot later in the evening (ranging from 8-9pm) which allows us time to go out and photograph them without interrupting any of the formal events because those are usually over by that point and it’s just fun partying by then! They’re also more common then because the weather is more predictable and usually we have clear skies! In washington, if it’s overcast, we don’t usually get great sunsets unless we have some breaks in the clouds! For night photos, these can also happen at summer weddings if I’m scheduled late enough, but they’re most common in my fall, winter, and early spring weddings! We’ll just go out once it gets dark and I’ll already have a vision of what I’m trying to create in my head! I’ll time these out based on your exact day (google will tell me when the sun is scheduled to set!) so we’ll have it already built into the schedule! Once we’re done, you’ll head back to the reception to continue the party!

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I hope that this was helpful for any of my brides (or any brides at all!) that are stuck with the timeline process! Of course, every photographer might do things a little differently but this is how I have done them for the past 3 years and it’s been so successful for me!! Keep a lookout for more Tips For Brides posts coming soon!!

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Wedding Day Timeline Tips | Tips for Brides

Wedding Day Timeline Tips | Tips for Brides

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Comments

comments

  1. Kira

    January 30th, 2018 at 6:05 am

    Great wedding day timeline suggestions. I’m sure many brides will find this helpful.

  2. Ressa

    January 30th, 2018 at 10:44 am

    What a happy and beautiful couple! Congrats to them and their lovely wedding day! You did an amazing job editing and capturing their gorgeous big day!

  3. Tierney

    January 30th, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    This will be so helpful for couples as they plan their wedding! When I was a bride, I loved helpful suggestions like this! Also, the wedding you featured here is lovely!

  4. Melissa

    January 30th, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    A) your photography is beautiful and B) yes to all your timeline tips! I think its so important brides understand the things that need to get accomplished and then they can plan accordingly.

  5. Jess

    January 30th, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    This is such an important post! I remember when I was photographing weddings, this was something all of my couples struggled with. It makes all the difference in the world to have a solid timeline planned for your day and your photos.

  6. Kristin

    January 30th, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    What stunning wedding photos!! For future brides, these time lines are extremely important to get all the photos they want, while the wedding day unfolds. It is so important to plan so nothing is forgotten about.

  7. Alice L

    January 30th, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    I love this post so much. I just sent it to two family members who are gettin married soon. There are so many great tips for the wedding day timeline.

  8. Meghan R

    January 30th, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    Such helpful tips and suggested timeline. I know the timeline stressed me out, especially since I’m always late! Great post!

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