The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline
The key to a smooth wedding day is to plan ahead. Breaking down your entire wedding day into an organized timeline will help keep things on track when the big day finally comes.
The first thing I always do when planning a wedding timeline is research what time the is sunset. A quick Google search for “wedding day sunset in town” will give you the exact time, even if your wedding is in 1 or 2 years.
Golden hour is 1 hour before sunset and this is my favorite time for portraits! Usually, I do recommend ending the ceremony 1.5 / 2 hours before sunset so to allow enough time also for family photos straight after the ceremony.
Also, be sure to consider the distance between your ceremony and the reception. If you are getting married at the same location as the reception, you won’t need a lot of extra travel time unless you’re going off-site for photos. But if you are getting married on one side of town and hosting your reception on the other, be sure to allow time for travel!
Think about where you want to take the photo: near the ceremony, near the reception, somewhere in between, or in a completely different location? My advice is to pick a spot you love rather than just picking what’s most convenient – these are your wedding photos after all, and it’s important that you make sure you absolutely love them !
Use the following as a guide to create your own wedding day timeline.
7 am – time to wake up—you’re getting married today!
7:30 am – Beauty time
This is when the bridesmaids, makeup artists and hair stylists will make their way to your home if you have mobile services, or if you are meeting at a salon, it’s time for you to get a wriggle on out the door to meet everyone.
As a guide, it usually takes the bride one hour each in hair and make-up, while you should allow 45 minutes for each bridesmaid for makeup and 30 minutes each for hair.
If you have a flowergirl, allow half an hour for both hair and makeup.
Quick tip: Wear cute robes
12 pm – Eat some lunch
Make sure you organise a light lunch and some water for yourself and also your bridesmaids so there is no fainting!
12:30 – Getting ready details
Every bride loves having those shots of her bridal details. It’s an important part of the story and I love having some time to shoot the dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, etc. These shots allow me to get warmed up for the rest of the big day. I normally like to allow at least 20 minutes for this part of the day. While I’m shooting details, I’m also capturing some shots of the bride and her girls getting ready! If the groom is getting ready nearby, I will also photograph the boys getting ready before the cemernoy since it always takes them less time to get dressed.
2:00 – Bride steps into dress
After the details have been photographed, it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! This is the big moment. I usually ask the mother of the bride and all the bridesmaids to be dressed by the time the bride is ready to get into her dress. This ensures that everyone will look nice in those images. After the bride is in her gown, she can put on her jewelry, veil, shoes, etc. and I will shoot some additional bridal portraits!
2:30 – Ceremony decor + guests arriving
We like to get to the ceremony venue 30 minutes before the actual ceremony begins so we can take ceremony decor shots before guests arrive. Once guests arrive we’ll begin photographing posed and candid photos of them.
3:00 – Ceremony begins
It’s time to get married! Most ceremonies are 30 minutes long. If your ceremony is longer than 30 minutes, we’ll make adjustments to the timeline. Cherish these moments! Your ceremony will pass by so quickly.
3:30 – Ceremony ends
3:45 – Family photos
Family formals normally take place immediately following the ceremony. It’s best to save all of the family formals until after the ceremony because ALL family members will be present at that time. We’ll need about 30 mintues for family formals and I will send a questionnaire before the wedding where you can list out the shots that you want. I recommend shooting portraits outdoors if possible so that they resemble more natural family portraits, especially if the ceremony location is dark!
4:15 – Wedding party photos
Now it’s time for bridal party shots! I bugger in extra time throughout the day just in case we have some unexpected things that hold us up. One way to make sure we stay on schedule for bridal party portraits is to have someone put the boutonnieres on the guys before they arrive for portraits.
5:30 – Reception decor/ cocktail
If the reception is in the same location as the ceremony, I will use this time to shoot the reception decor UNTOUCHED. If the ceremony and reception are in different locations, I recommend having a cocktail hour outside of the main reception area if possible so that I can grab some great shots of your reception before the night begins and guests start laying down purses and coats on their seats!
6:00 – Grand entrance
This is when the bridal party lines up for introductions and the party begins!!
6:15 – Dinner served
Everything in-between (reception events such as cake cutting, toasts, etc.) is at the couple and planner’s discretion. Vendor meals are not required but always appreciated! We ask to have our break as close as possible (time-wise) to the couple’s so once they’re up and mingling, we’ll be ready to follow and take fabulous candids and table shots!
You should also consider some nice sunset photos (if time permitting)
8:30 – First dance
The first dance as Husband & Wife is, in my opinion, one of the most romantic of moments of the day.
NOW IS TIME TO HAVE FUN!
The traditional order of reception events includes:
Newlyweds toast if they wish to give one
Bouquet and garter toss