Understanding Your Wedding Timeline

Make a day-of timeline for everyone in your family and wedding party and make sure you give everyone a printed and digital copy on your wedding day! Don’t expect them to remember to bring it if you give it to them at your rehearsal. Ask your vendors for the best way to reach them on your wedding day!

As a couple, you will eventually need to sit down and create your wedding timeline. A timeline ensures that the day runs smoothly and that all vendors are on the same page. Most people have been to a wedding but unless you have been recently married, you might not know what happens from 7am until the ceremony time. If you are wondering what a typical wedding timeline looks like and how much time your photographer will need to capture all the important aspects of your day, here is an example to help you get started.

Décor: 30 – 45 Minutes

Your photographer will want to capture some shots of your venue and the décor before your reception area is filled with people, which is why this is generally the starting point you will want to factor into your day before your ceremony starts. Don’t forget to mention any specific details that you want your photographer to capture.

Men Getting Ready: 45 Minutes

Next, your photographer will want to grab some shots of the guys getting ready. This will include any shots of them chilling in their casual outfits, getting ready and any general detail shots.

ProTip! Many female photographers have a safety and sexual harassment clause in their contract and will leave if they feel threatened in any way. Accept that you have no idea how a room full of men will treat a female photographer after they have been drinking all day (the men, not the photographer) and make sure your groomsmen are aware that their behaviour MUST be respectful and clean or you will risk your photographer packing up and leaving. This goes for the reception as well. I work with many young female photographers and I have heard the horror stories!

Ladies Getting Ready: 90 Minutes

Your photographer will spend more time with you and your bridesmaids because there is a lot more going on. Make sure that your photographer is able to capture some shots of you getting your hair and makeup done before you start getting ready. These 90 minutes may also include your mom or dad seeing you for the first time.

ProTip! Have a fried or relative in charge of keeping your getting ready room clean and tidy. You don’t want your photos to have a background of all of your bags and breakfast garbage.

Ceremony: Varies

Since each wedding is unique, so there is no set time for your ceremony. It does help to build the timing of the rest of your day around your ceremony though. Not only do you want to make sure that your photographer has enough time for your couple photos afterward but that there’s enough time to capture you getting ready too.

On my intake form I actually ask my couples how long (in minutes) they want their ceremony to be. Normally my ceremonies are around 20 minutes unless we are adding in extra elements like rose or sand ceremonies etc. I plan for 45 minutes including the signing and some buffer room for anyone running a few minutes late.

Cocktail Hour: 30 Minutes

If you would like to capture photos of your guests as you greet them after the ceremony, work this into your timeline. Some couples choose to use this time to capture family and bridal party photos instead though.

Family & Bridal Party Photos: 30 Minutes

Before you get into your couple session, your photographer will spend time capturing family photos as well as photos of the bridal party.

ProTip! Have someone who knows all or most of your people with a list to help your photographer. Without fail, someone bolts for the bar the moment the ceremony is over when they are supposed to be getting photos taken. Don’t be afraid to ask your Officiant to make an announcement about who is to stay for photos.

Couple Photos: 60 Minutes

Your photographer will generally plan your photos according to the time the sun sets as this will give you the best light but of course…that depends on the time of your ceremony. Morning and lunch weddings will have different lighting and still take the same amount of time for photos.

This should give you a good general idea of how your day will need to be planned out but your photographer will assist you with your timeline once you have provided them with important details such as the length of your ceremony.

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