So what does a wedding day timeline really look like?
You know, everything just takes longer than you think it will. So many people are involved in each step of the day, and it just takes time to mobilize various groups of people throughout the day.
To help the events of the day to run smoothly, you’ll want a detailed timeline to follow. It also serves as a checklist to make sure everything, and everyone is remembered!
When starting to plan your timeline, you’ll start with the hair and makeup of the bridal party, allowing a minimum of 15 minutes per person. If one person is doing both hair and makeup, allow 30 minutes per person. Remember to account for moms, grandmas, & flower girls. Your professional stylists will give you a custom timeline for your party.
If I am your photographer, I’ll be arriving about 30 minutes prior to the brides hair and makeup being done. I’ll get detail shots of the invitation, flowers, jewelry, etc.
If you are getting ready at another location from your ceremony site, add time to get there. A few quick searches on Google Maps will do the trick!
Mom needs to be dressed and ready before the bride is getting into her gown, because she’ll be in pictures next. We’ll get the detail shots of mom and/or maid of honor helping with the dress, this takes about 15 minutes. We need another 20 minutes to take portraits of the bride, alone. Then another 20 minutes for the bridesmaids portraits.
Allow 45 minutes for these pictures. You can overlap this time with the Bride and Bridesmaids time if you have a second shooter. And again, account for any travel time between locations. We will take pictures of the groom with his mom, dad, and best man helping him get ready.
I can usually get these photos done quicker than an hour, but let’s face it…. The guys are rarely ready on time! I say that with good humor, but it’s still true. I usually jump over and grab some reception shots, if we are near, while someone else is hounding the guys to finish up.
Dad’s First Look
I recommend taking a moment to allow the bride and her dad, or whoever is walking her down the aisle, to see each other, alone. It’s an opportunity for them to be themselves, and for dad to get a good look at his baby girl. Dad is usually just doing what he’s told throughout this whole crazy wedding planning process, and this gives him the honor of having time set aside just for him. It will take about 15 minutes.
Bride and Groom’s First Look or Prayer
If ya’ll choose to do a first look, we’d take care of that next. Allow 15 minutes for a moment alone, and a few moments to touch up any makeup on the bride (including the lipstick transferred to the groom!); then we’ll spend about 20 minutes on photos.
Wedding Party Photos
Whether before (if doing a first look) or after the ceremony, the entire wedding party photos will take about 20 minutes.
The family photos will take 2 – 3 minutes per group. To help with the process, you’ll want a loud and firm person to work the shotlist. Prior to your wedding day, we will have created a shot list with an efficient workflow.
I’m sure your ceremony will start exactly on time, but go ahead and save yourself some gray hairs and add an extra 15 minutes to your timeline here! Plan 20 – 60 minutes for your ceremony.
Cocktail or Hors Devours Hour
This hour is created to entertain and feed your guests, at a location other than where dinner is being served, while we take any group photos that haven’t already been done.
Since it’s not too much fun for them to go straight to a table and just sit and stare at each other, give them something to do! This is a GREAT time for the second shooter to take a lot of pictures of your guests, so we really don’t want them at their table yet.
We’ll slip away for about 20 – 30 minutes for gorgeous sunset pictures. This is a chance for the bride and groom to have an alone moment, and breath each other in, and talk about the joy of their day. And here’s where it’s important to be on track with your wedding day timeline… The sun doesn’t wait for us! These pictures need to happen at a specific time.
Grand Entrance, First Dance, Welcome Toasts
Allow 15 minutes for your bridal party introductions, rolling right into your first dance, then the music fades and either you, or your dj, welcomes and thanks your guests for coming and say blessings.
Depending on how you are serving dinner, buffet line vs servers, allow around 45 minutes.
Bridal Party Toasts
This should take about 10 minutes, and be done just as guests are finishing up dinner.
Rolling right into dances, allow 10 minutes here. You can choose whether to play an entire song, or shorten it. This marks a great transition to open the dance floor and get your party started!
Cake, Bouquet & Garter Toss
If you so choose, these activities (barring no one gets too crazy) should take only 15 minutes. This is also a great opportunity for you to say a few words and thank your guests for coming.
And that’s about it for the standard events during a wedding day!
Your wedding day timeline is a must have tool for you, and several others, to use on your big day.
If you want to nerd out with me, I’ve got a geeky spreadsheet for us to play with timeframes and activities.