WEDDING DAY TIMELINE EXAMPLE

From a wedding photographer's perspective...

Hey friend! If you’re reading this, you’re probably engaged and planning the wedding of your dreams! Let me say first-CONGRATULATIONS! This is such an exciting season! I know planning a wedding can seem stressful, especially when it comes to the timeline. I created this example for you, to hopefully relieve any stress! Use this timeline as a guide. 

TIMELINE WITH FIRST LOOK
11:00 a.m. Start Hair & Makeup
12:30 p.m. Photographer Arrives
1:00 p.m. Hair & Makeup is complete
1:15 p.m. Put on Dress // Reveal to bridesmaids
1:30 p.m. First Look
1:45 p.m. Couple's Portraits
2:15 p.m. Bridal Party Photos
3:00 p.m. Back to bridal suites (an hour buffer)
4:00 p.m. Ceremony
4:30 p.m. Ceremony ends // cocktail hour starts
4:35 p.m. Formal family photos
5:30 p.m. Guests are seated
5:40 p.m. Entrances into reception
5:45 p.m. Speeches & dinner
6:00 p.m. Sunset portraits
6:20 p.m. First dance // parent dances
7:00 p.m. Dance floor open to guests
8:30 p.m. Sparkler or bubble exit 

TIMELINE WITHOUT FIRST LOOK
11:00 a.m. Start Hair & Makeup
12:30 p.m. Photographer Arrives
1:00 p.m. Hair & Makeup is complete
1:15 p.m. Put on Dress // Reveal to bridesmaids
1:30 p.m. Separate bridal party photos (all the guys together and all the girls together separately)
1:50 p.m. Family photos that can be done pre-ceremony
3:00 p.m. Back to bridal suites (an hour of buffer time)
4:00 p.m. Ceremony
4:30 p.m. Ceremony ends // cocktail hour starts
4:35 p.m. Remaining family photos, full bridal party, and 
Bride + Groom photos
5:30 p.m. Guests are seated
5:40 p.m. Entrances into reception
5:45 p.m. Dinner
6:00 p.m. Sunset portraits
6:20 p.m. First dance // parent dances
6:45 p.m. Speeches
7:00 p.m. Dance floor open to guests
8:30 p.m. Sparkler or bubble exit

BUFFER TIME
As you can see above, there is an hour of buffer time before the ceremony. In my professional opinion, having a 30-60 minute buffer before your ceremony is essential. It allows you to chill and relax before saying I do! It also gives some extra overflow time in case hair and makeup take longer than expected, we need an extra few minutes for photos, someone in the bridal party is late, etc. As the photographer, the buffer allows me to walk around the venue and get some initial detail shots without constraint for time. 

FIRST LOOK
In the first timeline example, I have included a first look. When it comes to saving time, I have found that first looks play a big role. They allow for about 75% of the photos to be taken before the ceremony. If you’re interested in spending more intentional time with your guests after the ceremony, I would recommend doing a first look. There is always the option to take the bulk of your photos during cocktail hour if you decide not to do a first look.

A NOTE ON DINNER
As the photographer on a wedding day, it is of utmost importance to me that I am present for every special moment. I always tell my couples that it is best for me (and the other vendors) to eat when they eat. That way, we are not missing any important moments with the couple. I like to allot 15 minutes for a dinner break. Usually, the guests will still be getting their food and eating after the couple finishes. This is a great time to spend a few minutes taking sunset portraits. I’ll give about 15 minutes for that as well. It does depend on the location and how long it takes to walk to the perfect sunset photo spot.

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