Some days we can’t even believe that we’re lucky enough to have been photographing weddings for going on our 10th year. That’s crazy! That’s just about a third of our lives spent together, creating wedding images for couples. We say it all the time, but we are so lucky that we get to do what we love, day in and day out.
Most of the couples that we work with are getting married for the first time. And, for a lot of people, wedding planning can be crazy stressful. We’ve always prided ourselves on taking some of that stress away from our couples when it comes to their wedding day. One of the things that can really help, is having a great wedding day timeline in place.
Putting your wedding day timeline together can sometimes seem like a daunting task. That’s one of the reasons why it’s one of the first things that we do with all of our couples. Where do you start? By thinking about what’s most important to you on your wedding day. And by thinking about what you want to see the most of on your wedding day.
Today we’ll be sharing some insight into how we help our couples put together their wedding day timelines. Hopefully, this will make your planning easier too! Please keep in mind when you’re looking through these times, that every wedding day is different. Some couples include traditions that others don’t. Some couples don’t want to travel all over the city. And, each of those unique differences are what makes your wedding day just that: your own.
Getting Ready & Details | 1.5 Hours
For a lot of our brides, this is an important part of their wedding day. Getting ready with their best girls. Some brides want all of their getting ready process photographed. Others, not so much. By giving your photographer about an hour and a half you’ll give yourself plenty of time to finish up hair and make-up. And of course to put your gown on and relax for a few minutes. To tell a full story and to see your groom getting ready in your finished images be sure to add an extra 30 minutes to an hour to this.
Putting on The Gown | 30-45 minutes
What? 45 minutes to get dressed? Trust us! You don’t want to be rushed when you’re putting your wedding gown on! You’ll want a few extra minutes of downtime. And, depending on your gown, it may take longer to put on than you think. Take into consideration how your dress closes. Is it just a zipper? Does it have a lace-up back? Or are there lots of tiny buttons? Sometimes just getting those buttons done can add an extra 20 minutes into your day that you didn’t plan on.
First Look & Couple’s Portraits | 45 minutes at a minimum
We never, ever push our couples to do a first look unless they want to. But, we can tell you, that doing a first look will result in about 40% more images from your wedding day. Not to mention it will reduce some stress. And, it may be the only time on your wedding day you get to see each other. Just the two of you. For our couples who do first looks, this is always an emotional time, and you won’t want to rush it. Be sure to give yourself (and your photographer) plenty of time to just take it all in. Plus, the photos of the two of you on your wedding day are the very most important photos of the day. We’re pretty sure you don’t want to walk away with only a handful because you didn’t give yourself enough time.
Wedding Party Pictures | 45 minutes to an hour
Whether these happen on-site at your venue, or off-site at multiple locations, give your photographer plenty of time. Your wedding party is just as excited as you are on your wedding day, and your photographer will want to take some time to have fun with the whole group. Plus, your photographer doesn’t want to miss any important friend groups that are in your wedding party. This is also normally the time when any individual photos will be taken with each person in your bridal party.
Formal Family Pictures | 30-45 Minutes
If your photographer knows what they’re doing, family photos will be a breeze for you. But, the reason you’ll need up to 45 minutes? To allow time for real, non-rushed moments to happen as you’re taking these photos. Oftentimes this is the first time your grandma will be seeing you in your gown. And that’s not something you want to just hurry by. Family photos are so important, so you’ll want to be sure to grab individuals with your most important people, and all of the groups for your mom too. That, and every now and again, someone does tend to roam off and need to be found to continue. 🙂
Pre-Ceremony Prep | 30 minutes
What? You mean you’re not just going to walk right down the aisle? You’ll find your wedding guests will start to arrive about 30 minutes before your ceremony. While they’re all arriving you’re going to want to tuck yourself away, touch-up make-up, and make sure that your gown is pristine.
Wedding Ceremony | 30 minutes to an hour
Depending on your ceremony, be sure to give yourself plenty of time! Your officiant should be able to help you decide exactly how long your ceremony will be.
Receiving Line | 20 minutes/100 people
Receiving lines are becoming a thing of the past at most weddings that we’ve been to. Why? We’ve found over the years that our brides and grooms would rather meet their guests at cocktail hour or their reception instead of adding anywhere from an extra 20-40 minutes to their ceremony time.
Travel Time | 20 minutes from each spot
Chances are on your wedding day you’ll be doing some traveling. Probably in a limo, trolley, or party bus of some sort. One thing that a lot of couples don’t think about in terms of their timeline is travel. Typically group transportation vehicles drive a little bit slower than in your normal car. And, it always takes everyone a few extra minutes to get on and off than you anticipate. This is more than fine with your photographers. Especially, since we have all kinds of gear to get from Location A, safely packed in the car (you can’t just throw in camera gear), and safely out at Location B. If you’re planning on hitting up several spots in the city on your wedding day, keep this in mind!
Cocktail Hour | 1 hour
If you’re not thinking about doing a cocktail hour, you should start considering it. This will give your guests plenty of time to get from your ceremony to your reception, without feeling rushed or like they’re running late. A lot of our couples get married downtown, and guests will have to fight traffic, find parking, and then make their way to the venue. Give your guests plenty of time. Most of our couples are also squeezing in a few extra portraits during cocktail hour before arriving at the reception site a little bit early to capture details and bustle your gown.
Reception Time | min. 2 hours
One of the most frequent questions we get is, “how long do you need to be at the reception?” While every wedding day is different, we always ask for a minimum of 2 hours, but closer to 3. If you’re serving your guests dinner, plan on that taking anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Add in time for toasts, cake cutting, and of course all of your special dances, and the night will fly by. We always like to make sure that we always grab a few images of our couples dancing with friends and family too. And of course, if you’re planning an exit, let your photographer know! We’re pretty sure they don’t want to miss it and will work with you to make sure that it gets covered!
We hope our suggestions for wedding day timeline planning help! Our biggest advice is to take all of this with a grain of salt. Some couples prefer more reception and dancing pictures. Some couples don’t want to do a first look. These are merely suggestions to help you out along your planning journey.
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