This is my journal on documenting love, finding joy, and living life to the fullest. I'm so glad you're here, and hope you enjoy your stay!

This is my journal on documenting love,
finding joy, and living life to the fullest. I'm so glad you're here, and hope you enjoy your stay!

HELLO, I'm JENNIFER! welcome to MY blog!








How to Plan Your Wedding Day Timeline

Filed in: What to Expect

This is a LONG post, but planning your timeline is crucial to making sure you day runs smoothly. Let’s get started!

The story of your wedding day starts with getting ready and ends with the grand exit, and I would hate to miss any part of that. From my experience, I’ve found an eight hour timeline is absolutely necessary if there are multiple locations (as in hotel for getting ready, church for ceremony, venue for reception). But even with everything all happening in one space, seven or eight hours is still helpful to ensure a smooth day, with the entire story covered. Here is an example of an 8 hour timeline for a wedding taking place at ONE location with a First Sight:

2:00-  I arrive as Bride is finishing hair/make up. Capture Bride’s details (dress, shoes, bouquet, jewelry, garters, etc) and Getting Ready shots/candids of bridesmaids.
2:30-  Bride gets dressed. (Note: I give this at least 30 minutes because it takes longer than most people expect, especially if there’s a button-back or corsetting involved.)
3:00-  First Sight with Bride and Groom, followed by couple portraits.
3:30- Wedding party photos (20 minutes), Bride’s portraits with bridesmaids and her family (20 minutes), Groom’s portraits with groomsmen and his family (20 minutes)
4:30-  Pre-ceremony photos end as guests are starting to arrive. Everyone freshens up for ceremony while I go to capture ceremony details.
5:00-  Ceremony
5:30-  Ceremony ends and guests proceed to Cocktail Hour while we take large family formals.
6:00-  I shoot reception details in empty reception area.
6:30-  Guests asked to take their seats at reception for Bride & Groom’s entrance followed by First Dances, then dinner is served
7:45- Sunset photos with Bride and Groom
8:00-  Cake Cutting and Toasts
8:30-  Open Dance Floor
9:30-  Bouquet/Garter Toss
10:00-  Grand Exit

This is just one option, but as you can see it covers everything and there’s some buffer time too. Whether you are using one location or many and having a First Sight or not, there’s always a way to make it work but it takes early communication to get it done. To help you out, here are ten tips to help you plan YOUR wedding day timeline.

1. The first thing you need to consider is the time of year you are getting married. If your wedding is in the summer you have pretty much all the options open to you. If you are getting married in the fall or winter, things get a little more limited. A fall or winter wedding means you will either need to have an earlier ceremony so we still have daylight afterwards or you need to have your portraits done before the ceremony. Otherwise, if your ceremony is after dark and you don’t want to do a First Sight, please know that you will not be getting the bright, natural light look in your portraits since flash will have to be used.

2. Your ceremony time is your anchor. Once you set that time, everything else slots itself accordingly. For example, let’s say you are getting married in July. You set your ceremony time for 6pm. You can do all your photos after the ceremony since sunset is so late, or you can do a First Sight beforehand and do family and wedding party after. If you are getting married in October at 6pm you will want to do at least some of your photography before because light gets pretty dim by 7pm. Remember, what looks good to the naked eye isn’t necessarily good light for photography.

3. Do you want to have a First Sight? Seeing your bride/groom before the ceremony is not bad luck and I haven’t had a single client regret it! I totally understand that First Sight is not for everyone, but if want to have unrushed, close-up, emotional couples’ portraits with the ability to zip to your cocktail hour right after the ceremony, it might be the right choice for you.

4. Get organized. Decide early on what elements will be in your day and what you want me to document. Do you want me to photograph the girls getting hair and makeup done? Cocktail hour? Speeches? The sparkler exit? Nail down what you’re doing and at what time things will take place. Plan out the flow of the day months beforehand.

5. When scheduling your hair and makeup appointments, tell them you need to be finished at least 20 minutes before the time you actually need to be done. For example, if you’ve planned to start getting dressed at 4:00 pm, tell your stylist that you need to be done at 3:40. I always err on the side of things running behind (just in case!), so this will keep things running smoothly if that should happen. (Side note: my husband does this trick to me ALL the time!) Better yet, if your bridesmaids are also having hair and makeup done, don’t let the stylist work on you last. If the other girls’ run behind, this means the stylist has to rush on you, and we certainly don’t want that. Lastly, if possible, have your hair and makeup artist come to YOU, whether it be in the hotel room you’re getting dressed at or the church bridal suite. Doing this will save time with travel and make things easier on everyone.

6. Don’t forget to include time for traveling between locations, plus a little extra in case of traffic delays.

7. If you’re not having a First Sight and all photos are taking place after the ceremony, then make sure to plan 25 minutes for family formals, 15 minutes for wedding party & 20 minutes for bride & groom portraits. Don’t worry about your guests…they are enjoying cocktail hour during this time, and they know that pictures are taking place.

8. In order to get the best photos of your reception decor, I need at least 15 minutes alone with no guests in the room. An easy way to accomplish this is to plan cocktail hour in a location adjacent to the reception.

9. Add a few minutes to everything that involves moving and organizing large groups of people, and schedule group photos that involve children and/or grandparents first.

10. Do a rough draft of the timeline as early as possible. Lay it out and see what it looks like. Send it to me, and we will tweak it. It’s so important that we are on the same page that day so everything runs smoothly.

Come back to see the next portion of this series: Should we have a First Sight??



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  1. […] time to check out the other posts in this series which will help make your wedding day go smoothly: timeline and First Sight. I have a few other “What to Expect” posts up my sleeve, so come back […]

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