Wedding Timeline Tips to Swear By!

I am a wedding timeline master. Go ahead, ask me anything.

Wedding timelines can be so stressful, but good news! We’ve seen and done about a gajillion at this point and can help you with our hands tied behind our backs! And blindfolded. And with socks in our mouths… I can pretty much tell you telepathically.

1. When should I have my ceremony?
If you are having an outdoor ceremony, the closer you can get it to sunset, the better the lighting will be. Think about this: if you get a really sunny day, at midday the sun will be right above you, and there will be harsh shadows and squinting!

If you are having an indoor or church ceremony, the sky is the limit! Any time of day is great, as the light won’t change very much and we can work with anything.

2. How much time should I schedule for my family formals? (This is the posed family photo session!)
If you are having a family formal session, firstly make sure you have a list done up beforehand to give to your photographer of every photo you’d like. This should include the name of all persons in each photo, and their relation to you. You should also try to limit this to between 10-15 groupings or less. Each photo takes approximately 3 minutes, and that’s a best case scenario. If Uncle Joe wanders off, or one of the kids needs to go potty, you lose time. And this always happens!

Another tip for the family formal session is to have this directly after the ceremony because everyone is already in one place. You should notify everyone in the family photos when they will be taking place, and where. This limits the time you have to wait for others, and is much more easily controlled than having everyone meet at another location.

When making your list for the photographers, always do the largest groups first, and the groups with children. This way, no one has to wait around and the kids are in their best possible mood as they haven’t had a chance to get bored!

3. How much time should I allocate for my couples photography session?
Ideally we like to have 1.5 hours throughout the day with our couples. If we have one hour during the day, and then another 30 minutes during the evening/sunset, that is perfection. This enables us to give you photos together at different locations with a variety of lighting. It also gives you a little break during the reception/dinner to sneak off and have a few moments with just the two of you! And with a day as busy as your wedding day, it’s important to steal away whenever you can.

The first hour of the portrait session can easily happen at the location where you decide to do your first look. Or if you’re not having a first look, it can happen right after the family portrait session while cocktail hour is happening for your guests!

4. Limit travel as much as possible.
Travel is one of those things that really eats up time during your wedding day. If you are having the ceremony and reception in the same location, things are golden! If not, it’s really important to set enough time aside (and a little extra) to account for traveling between locations. This is especially important if you want to go to another place for your portrait session. We are always up for adventures but it’s important to allocate enough time for traffic, parking, etc.

5. How should I organize my “getting ready” time?
The optimal amount of time that your photographers need for the getting ready part of the day is 1 hour. This is plenty of time to get some photos of the details (dress, flowers, boutonnieres, etc), finishing touches of hair and make-up, and everyone getting dressed. This means the bride should be the 2nd last to get ready, so the photographer can get the final touches!

Also, the closer the couple is in proximity to the other, the better. This way the photographers can both be with one of you and then one photographer can leave to photograph the other. It takes much less time for any groom to get ready, so all the bases are covered! If you’re getting ready in the same hotel/location, this is ideal!

Wedding Timeline Example

  • 9:00am Hair and make-up begin

  • 12:00pm Photographers arrive and everyone gets dressed

  • 1:00pm First look

  • 1:15pm Couple and Wedding Party Portraits

  • 2:30pm VIPs leave for ceremony venue

  • 2:45pm VIPs arrive at ceremony venue

  • 3:00pm Ceremony begins

  • 3:30pm Ceremony ends

  • 3:45pm Family Photo Session

  • 4:15pm All travel to reception venue

  • 4:30pm Cocktail Hour (potential second photo opportunity for the couple)

  • 6:00pm Couple announced into reception venue

  • 6:15pm Dinner is Served

  • 7:00pm Toasts

  • 7:30pm Cake Cutting

  • 8:00pm First Dance and Family Dances

  • 8:15pm Party time!

  • Couple sneaks away for final 15min photo session during sunset (whenever this may be!)