The Wedding Day Timeline Part II // Tips for Clients

The Wedding Day Timeline Part II // Tips for Clients


Today we are taking an in-depth look into what your wedding day timeline should look like.  If you think you have a good handle on it and want  a more simplified version of this post, head over here to see Part I of this series and a condensed version of this post!

The wedding day timeline can be one of the most stressful parts of planning your wedding.  You’ve never done this before and you never really paid attention during all the weddings you’ve been to and been in so it can be overwhelming.  The timeline can really depict what your wedding day looks like.  When my clients ask how long they should hire me for I usually tell them to make their wedding timeline first before decided that as photography can sometimes depict what your day looks like.


The Getting Ready:

A lot of couples choose to opt out of having getting ready photos in order to spend less money on photography and get some more time for reception photos.  This makes me SO sad because when you go back and look through your photos or create your album it just jumps right into the big moments.  Its nice to have some detail shots and candid photos to build the anticipation and help complete the entire story.

Personally, I love to have an hour to capture getting ready photos and details.  I send a reminder email shortly before the wedding to ask you to gather all of your items that you might want in detail shots into one bag and have your gown ready and hanging on a pretty hanger when I arrive.  When I first come on the scene I introduce myself to everyone and then grab that bag of goodies and get your detail shots and dress photos out of the way first.  That way the girls know my presence is there and it is time to get those final touches done!

After that I get photos of you and your ladies getting final touches and grab a few portraits of you before your dress goes on.  All your girls have matching robes?  We’ll get you ladies hanging out in those too!  After this I’ll usually try to run over and grab a few shots of the guys putting on their ties, jackets and cuff links.  And maybe a few portraits of the groom if he is ready in time.

Then it’s time to get into your dress with your mom’s help along with all your details.  I usually also suggest in my pre-wedding email to try to set aside a space with nice window light to keep clutter free for these photos.  I grab a few more portraits of you before heading to place your groom for your first look.  Or if you are not doing a first look then we will start with photos of you and your ladies and family, followed by photos of the groom with his men and family.


The First Look:

Coming soon is a blog featuring a better look into a first look but here I’ll just give you a brief description.  What is a “first look”?  Normally a bride and groom first see each other when the bride comes down the aisle.  Its an amazing moment and so fun to watch the groom’s expression and the brides emotion.  However, this limits the time that we can have to take photographs.  And also, it’s kind of fun to get to hug and talk when you first see each other (and tell each other how good you both look).  So we arrange a first look in usually a secluded location and have the bride walk up and tap the groom and have him turn around and have a first moment together.


The bride & groom portraits:

I always try to start with bride and groom photos so that if for some reason we are running short on time, it doesn’t eat into this portion of your day as it’s one of the best parts!  Depending on your venue and our weather the bride and groom portrait time may vary.  But normally I try to start you with a formal shot in your ceremony location before guests arrive.  From there we will usually wander through the grounds and venue for all your photos together.  My goal during this time is to get you to relax and interact how you might normally interact to capture the most authentic, intimate and real moments together.  At the end of this time I also separate you and grab 3-4 posed shots of each of you alone.  If you are wanting more bridal or groom portraits then that, be sure to just let me know and we can plan it into our timeline!


The bridal party:

After the bride and groom photos we roll into the bridal party!  We start out with the entire group with a few formal shots and then we start being goofy and get fun shots together.  Then we break up into just the girls and just the guys.  Again, we start with formals shots of each and then do a few fun ones.  After that I usually get individual shots of the bride with each bridesmaid and groom with each groomsmen.  If a first look is not chosen to do, then we usually try to do the bride with bridesmaids in advance and groom with groomsmen in advance to save time later.


The family photos:

We always do family photos last so that they do not have to hang out for so long in advance.  Family photos can also be done after the ceremony during cocktail hour if elderly family members or kiddos cannot arrive early. Usually these are also done at the ceremony site location or maybe a spot that shows off your grand venue.  I prefer these photos to be outside if we can, but knowing our Seattle weather these often happen indoors.  We simply gather all the family in one location and I have each of you do a quick introduction of who is there on your side of the family.  I will have a questionnaire you fill out in advance to let me know these details but point out who is who real quick helps in the posing process.  From there we start out with the largest photo possible (usually both sides of the family!) and then start kicking people out.  We also divide into each side of the family and get every combination possible.  My questionnaire also lists the most commonly put together combinations and provides and opportunity for you to let me know about any other poses or circumstances in advance.


The ceremony:

The ceremony is pretty self explanatory!  The length may depend on the types of events you include and you will want to talk to your officiant about all your options and an estimate of how long your ceremony will last.  My goal during the ceremony is to get a great wide shot showing off your venue and all your guests, individual portraits of each of the bride and groom both smiling and emotional, an individual photo of each of your bridal party, a shot of both sets of parents (if the venue accommodates me getting this type of shot), hands during the ring exchange, solid portraits of you both holding hands and of course the kiss, proclamation and grand exit!  Of course there are many more photos captured as long as time allows!


The reception:

The reception is also fairly self explanatory and will vary depending on what you choose to include and what is important to you.  Usually we start with dinner.  I recommend toasts starting once everyone has gotten through the buffet line or been served their final course and champagne has been passed or guests have had the opportunity to fill their glasses.  After that we go into cutting of the cake so it can be cut and served.  Dancing starts after that!  And from there the evening is pretty flexible.  Garter and bouquet toss are thrown in there somewhere.  I usually try to steal the bride and groom for either sunset shots or a few night photos before the grand exit!


Overall Suggested Time frames:
Getting Ready Photos: 1 hour
Bride & Groom Portraits: 30 minutes – 1 hour
Bridal Party: 30 minutes
Family Photos: 30 minutes
Ceremony: 30 minutes – 1 hour
Cocktail Hour: 30 minutes – 1 hour
Dinner: 1 hour
Sunset photos: 15 minutes
Toasts: 30 minutes
Cake Cutting: 15 minutes
First Dance(s): 15 minutes
Garter Toss: 10 minutes


Example Timeline (with first look):
1:15pm: Getting Ready Photos
2:15pm: Bride & Groom first look
2:30pm: Bride & Groom Portraits
3:00pm: Bridal Portraits
3:10pm: Groom Portraits
3:15pm: Bridal Party Photos
3:45pm: Family Formals
4:15pm: Hide the bride (Photographer gets reception details)
5:00pm: Ceremony
5:30pm: Ceremony ends & cocktail hour begins
5:30pm: Bride & Groom sign marriage license
5:45pm: A few more bride & groom portraits
6:15pm: Bride & groom enter cocktail hour
6:30pm: Dinner
7:15pm: Toasts
7:45pm: Cake cutting
8:00pm: First Dance(s)
8:30pm: Open Dancing
9:30pm: Bouquet & garter toss
9:45pm: Bride & groom night photos
10:00pm: Grand Exit


Example Timeline (without first look):
1:45pm: Getting ready photos
2:45pm: Bridal Portraits
3:00pm: Bride with Bridesmaids
3:15pm: Bride with Brides family
3:30pm: Hide the bride
3:40pm: Groom portraits
3:45pm: Groom with Groomsmen
4:00pm: Groom with Grooms family
4:15pm: Hide Groom (Photographer gets reception details)
5:00pm: Ceremony
5:30pm: Ceremony ends & cocktail hour begins
5:30pm: Sign marriage license
5:45pm: Family formals
6:00pm: Bridal Party Photos
6:15pm: Bride & Groom Portraits
6:45pm: Bride & groom enter reception & dinner is served
7:15pm: Toasts
7:45pm: Cake cutting
8:00pm: First Dance(s)
8:30pm: Open Dancing


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