I’ll tell ya what- there’s nothing better than a stress-free wedding day. Especially after all the time, tears and bottles of wine that you invested making sure that it was absolutely perfect! In years to come- when you relive your wedding day (through your photos)- I want you to feel all the emotions that you felt that day. But one thing that I don’t want you to feel is stress.
So I wanted to let you in on a little secret. The number one way to ensure a stress-free wedding day… is….. a having a well-planned wedding day time-line!!!! And often times- this little, or Not so little detail gets ignored. I truly can’t stress this enough…. allow for more time than you think you may need.
Maybe you’re sitting there thinking, “I’m such a go-with-the-flow person. I don’t need a timeline!” I feel you. But consider this: if you have a timeline and everyone is on the same page, then your wedding day will essentially run itself and you can carry on being the easy-going, care-free person that you are! Perfect right?! Right.
For photographers- a well-planned timeline can be sooo beneficial. It not only ensures that you have a stress-free day, it also gives us photographers time to, not only capture your details- but it allows us to get more creative in doing so! (which will only benefit your images and your awesome wedding album!) About three months before your wedding- I send out a very detailed questionnaire that will help us fine-tune your unique needs for YOUR wedding day. Allowing us to come up with a specific timeline based on what you need. However- it’s super important to realize that THE REAL timeline planning starts when you book your photography package.
For example- I offer collections that have 8,9 and 10 hours. (and an a-la-carte option that starts at 7 hours) If you book 5 or 6, a la carte hours and expect to get all the getting ready shots- all the way to the end of the reception… well you’re setting yourself up for a disappointment. And that’s the LAST thing I want.
I’ve shot many weddings- with a variety of different timelines. Some better than others. And no matter what. . . we always make it work. However, my goal with this post is to try and help ensure a STRESS-FREE wedding day. So below you will see a sample schedule. This schedule changes, of course, based on the unique logistics of your particular wedding day, but this is the kind of schedule I always shoot for (pun totally intended.). This is based on my most popular collection which includes 9-10 hours of coverage. (This is just a sample, though ideal- every timeline will be different)
- 11:45 We Arrive for Getting Ready Photos & Details
- 12:45 All Hair & Makeup Finished
- 1:00 Dress On; Final Touches
- 1:30 First Look; Bride & Groom Portraits
- 2:30 Wedding Party
- 3:00 Family Portraits
- 3:30 Photos Finished (Guests Begin to Arrive) / Details, Details!
- 4:00 Ceremony Begins
- 4:30 Ceremony Ends
- 4:40 More creative Couple portraits
- 5:00 Couple Joins the Cocktail Hour or Freshens Up
- 5:30 Guests are Seated for Dinner
- 5:45 Introductions/ Reception
Getting Ready: This is probably one of my most favorite parts of the day! To start the day on time, we also aim to have a “Stop Time” for all hair and makeup. This applies to everyone – including bridesmaids and the Mother of the Bride – so that they’ll look fabulous and already dressed in the photos of you putting on your gown. This also helps your makeup artists and hair stylists know when they need to be done, and it allows for a cushion if something happens to run late.
We also schedule a specific time for your dress to go on, and we allow at least 30 minutes for this. It probably won’t take 30 minutes to put on most dresses, but it allows you to relax as you put it on, slip on jewelry, hug Mom, and laugh with your bridesmaids. Plus, we get to spend a few minutes photographing just you before heading out for the First Look.
First Look: I Love to schedule enough time to let you and your fiance relax and enjoy hanging out with each other. We plan the first look in a location that is offering beautiful light (based on your unique location and the time of day- this will vary- but we always look for beautiful light first, before backdrop)
Wedding Party: You’ve seen your groom, your girls look fabulous, and your groomsmen are dapper in their suits. These are the friends or family members who you’ve chosen to stand by your side as you begin life as husband and wife. For our perfect wedding day timeline, we schedule 30 minutes for you to gather in close with your wedding party and show your best smiles for the camera. We snap all the essentials: everyone looking at the camera, full group shots, you with all your girls, your groom with his guys, details of the flowers and accessories, as well as candids of you laughing and hanging out. My second shooter is usually there to get different angles and such as well!
Family Portraits: After we’ve photographed your wedding party, the next step on our wedding day timeline is we schedule 30 minutes to photograph you and your family.
Doing the family portraits BEFORE the ceremony accomplishes a number of amazing things:
- There are no distractions so we can get through the shot list quickly. (no pulling people from the line at the bar at the cocktail party ).
- Family can immediately enjoy the cocktail hour and greet wedding guests right after the ceremony.
- We save that amazing light after the ceremony for just you two. (if you wanted to sneak back out and get a few more pictures in this amazing light!)
The Ceremony: We will be finished with photos at least 30 minutes before your ceremony time because that’s when guests will begin to arrive. You will go into hiding so nobody sees you, my second shooter and I will get detail shots and candids of all the guests mingling. The only thing you will need to do is freshen up and take a moment to breathe, relax, and reflect on the amazing moment that this is. Because you’ve seen one another already, you will be more relaxed and grounded, which means that you’ll be able to remember the emotional walk down the aisle with clarity and calm!
The Couple: Once the ceremony is over, it’s time for the fun part! Because we’ve taken all of the necessary “have-to-have” images before the ceremony, everything we take during this time is a bonus – but it’s a great bonus! The light will be beautiful, and you can relax and enjoy each other as newlyweds!
My goal is for you both to be able to remember your wedding day- not only by looking at pictures- but by actually being able to be present for your day. And to enjoy and savor the day as much as possible. Therefore- the times I indicate on the time line usually buffer in ample amounts of “extra” time. This way… if things are running behind… it won’t hinder any additional stress. (and if things go as planned…. you get to relax and enjoy the day!)
If you have any questions- reach out! I’m here to help!