Wedding Timeline Tips
With so much going on during your ceremony and reception its important to have a timeline prepared so nothing is left to chance. Work with your photographer ahead of time, either planning the timeline together or sharing the details of the day with them. Here you'll find some great ideas and advice from our wedding photographer members on how to improve the wedding timeline.
"When thinking about your wedding day schedule, think about the pictures you want. Do want pictures of your dress hanging, your shoes and accessories? Do you want pictures of those precious moments you're with your friends and family before you say "I Do"? If so, plan to have your photographer arrive at least 2 hours prior to the ceremony. This will give them time to photograph all those details you spent so much time preparing, as well as you getting ready with your bridesmaids and family members before the ceremony, and of course the groom getting ready and with his groomsmen and family members. These pictures are priceless and capture so much emotion. For most couples they see for the first time what their spouse was doing just before the ceremony, which can be quite touching."
- Life to Image
Greater Atlanta Georgia Area Wedding Photographer
"Plan ahead to make your day stress-free! Weddings are made for Murphy's Law - little things with uncooperative buttons & zippers, ill-fitting shirts, and disappearing bridegrooms - will happen. When you build some extra time into your photo schedule to accommodate delays, you'll look that much more relaxed and happy in your pictures!"
- MetroStyle Studios
Minneapolis, MN Wedding Photographer
"When thinking about those after-the-wedding family shots, jot down the shots you want. Pass out that detailed list to your family members before the wedding day so everyone will know where to be and when for pictures!"
- Owens-Lugar Photography
Roanoke, Virginia Wedding Photographer
"When planning for your wedding it's always good to keep in mind your time line. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get the photos you want at the locations you want. Having a cocktail hour is a great distraction for guest while you are off being photographed. If you have any doubts just ask your photographer for advice."
Bloomington, Indiana Wedding Photographer
"It never hurts to tell your wedding party or family that pictures start 10 minutes earlier than planned. Its better to get an early to on time start than a late one."
- Cheryl Neuharth Photography
Minneapolis Minnesota Wedding Photographer
"Photographers use light like a painter uses paint. No matter how good your photographer is, without good lighting, your photography will suffer.If you have the luxury of picking what time you get married, it is a great idea to ask your photographer what is the best time to take pictures for your area.
A perfect example is my home area of Lake Tahoe. High noon is the worst time of day to take pictures, especially if you are out on a lake or beach with no shade. Ideally, you want to start taking pictures about two hours before the sun goes over the horizon. There again, it is important to consult your photographer because the sun sets differently everywhere.
In the case of Lake Tahoe, we have mountains and large redwoods that can cause it to get dark earlier than the sunset time stated in your almanac. Even where you are around the lake makes a difference. The west side of the lake loses light about an hour before the east side does.
Once the party moves indoors, it is obviously less important since chances are, we are going to have to use some sort of artificial light to help us out anyway. However, even there, keep in mind what might look good to the naked eye, might not look good in a photograph. The eyes see light very differently than our cameras do. So, if you plan on lighting your entire reception by candles, Tiki Torches, and twinkle lights, just know that isn't a whole lot of light for your photographer to work with.It will look amazing in person, but it might not translate into a photograph.
If you are shooting in almost total darkness, it can be hard to even focus on the subject, and the less ambient light we have to work with, the harder it is to make the lighting look natural on the subject.
- Steve Keegan, Wedding Photojournalist
Minden, Nevada Wedding Photographer
"Greetings Bride/Groom to be!!
In order to help the day run smoothly and get you guys to your party faster it is important to establish an organized (and realistic) timeline for the day to play out especially with your photographer. I know I act more as a wedding coordinator the day of to ensure not only folks are in the right places at the right time but to make sure all of the sequences of photos are taken with ease.
All that being said, this is a 'mock up' of how I like to run things (based on a 2pm ceremony time and a traditional ceremony). This also works seamlessly if you are in the midst of planning a destination wedding as well:
12-12:30pm Getting the dress on, finishing touches, etc.
12:30-1pm Groom's photos (alone, with groomsmen, and family).
1-1:30pm Bride's photos (alone, with bridesmaids, and family).
1:30-2pm No formal photos- just candid's as guests arrive.
2-3pm Ceremony and receiving line.
3-3:45pm Formal and fun photos at ceremony site with family, bridal party, and the two of you.
3:45-4:15pm Travel to outdoor location or around other locales.
4:15-5:30pm Bridal party photos fun, candid, and formal outside and then just intimate photos of the two of you.
6-? Reception time!
..just a few tidbits to think about as you plan your EPIC day!
Smile lots, Miss Ann
- Photos by Miss Ann
Worldwide & Destinations Wedding Photographer
"When you set up a timeline for your wedding day make sure you allow time between the wedding and the reception to visit at least one other location for out door photographs. A local park, a near by beach, even a school yard you played in as a child. If you are worried about having time for this, make sure your photographer gets as much done before the wedding as possible. We try to have all the bride & bridesmaids and groom & groomsmen photographs done before the wedding. We coordinate with the florist to make sure the flowers are delivered early even if we have to pin them on ourseleves. This can save us at least an hour after the wedding that can then be spent at another location. Some photographers charge for extra locations so make sure you check first.
You also need to work out a schedule with your photographer for the details of the reception. When will you be cutting the cake (cutting it before dinner makes it simpler for the hall). How many toasts will you have. Who will be saying the prayer. Are you going to be doing a dollar dance. The more though you put into the schedule the smoother things will flow at the reception, and the more fun you will have."
- Will of Forever Images
Michigan City, Indiana Wedding Photographer
"The one golden rule from my years of photographing brides is this: give yourself at least 3 hours for hair and make-up; brides who follow this one simple rule is always on time and never rushed for the photo session. Almost 99.9% of the delays are due to not planning enough time for hair and make-up."
- Willi of Willi Wong Photography
New York, New York Wedding Photographer
"If you are sidestepping the receiving line to make more time for formals and other portraiture, or even for the much awaited cocktail hour, have a plan to ensure success! Couples dallying at the church exit or wandering in the garden after outdoors vows will find themselves in an impromptu greeting frenzy. This will set your schedule back, sometimes loosing a half hour or more. Discuss with your officiant or coordinator the best egress and your collection area. Place this issue on your rehearsal checklist!"
- Jennifer of Aphrodite Wedding Photography
Portsmouth, New Hampshire Wedding Photographer
"Consider having a "first look" before the ceremony. This gives you a chance to talk privately when you first see each other, and speeds up the time from ceremony to reception!"
- Charlie of Arizona Wedding Photos
Scottsdale, Arizona Wedding Photographer
"Many modern brides and grooms are foregoing tradition, and seeing each other before the ceremony in order to schedule time for great portraits. The moment of the 'First Sight', or 'First Look', is still arranged and the moment is captured. By getting the creative photographs completed before the wedding ceremony, this means that the couple can go straight to the reception with the guests."
- Steve of Steve Z Photography
Boulder, Colorado Wedding Photographer
"The best light is two hours before sunset. If you want beautiful photos of your outside wedding, check a sunset chart first to make sure you allow ample time for the ceremony and formal pictures afterwards before the sun actually does set."
- Renee of RIM Photography
South Carolina Wedding Photographer
"Start chow time early!
If you are worried about having guests wait too long to eat, break tradition and go ahead and have them start eating before you arrive (not just appetizers, everything)! Trust us, they will love you for it, you will not feel pressured, and the party will get started much earlier in the evening!"
- Adam of Adam Czap Photography
Northville, MI Wedding Photographer
"Everyone knows that it's tradition for the bride and groom to wait to see each other until walking down the aisle. And while that may still be something that is important to you when planning your wedding, let me share the pros and cons.
When you wait to see each other until the actual ceremony, you spend at least 1-2 hours (depending on the size and patience of the wedding party) taking photographs while the reception has just started. What does this matter? It means your guests are inside the reception hall with no bride.. no groom.. no wedding party.. FOR ONE TO TWO HOURS??? Guess what --they're going to leave! That means by the time you are finished taking photographs, you have fewer people left to eat that expensive cake you took a small loan out to get.. And worse, no people left for the going away photographs..
The Magic Moment:
This just plainly makes more sense (although I do have to admit I'm bias)! Let's say your wedding starts at 6pm. The photographer would arrive about 3 hours early to begin photographing. The "getting ready’s" bride and bridesmaids, groom and groomsmen. We tell the groomsmen (or bridesmaids-depending how it's set up) to leave while we photograph just the groom. The bride is walking behind him, towards him until he gets a tap on the shoulder from his beautiful bride and is awe struck (all of this is photographed from two angles to get reactions from bride and groom).
What's so great about that? Well, do you get to talk and have a special moment between the two of you when you're walking down the aisle? NO-you say your vows, kiss and then get to begin pictures after the ceremony (no time alone to talk). The magic moment gets even better! After you share a few moments together, we get the group photographs out of the way. Then the Family photographs. Then you have your ceremony and go directly to the reception.. You haven't lost guests due to photographs during the reception; you haven't lost the patience of the wedding party (most importantly the young and hungry ones). You get to go cut the cake, dance, eat, garter & bouquet toss.. And the best part is you have made the absolute most out of your wedding day.
I can't make your mind up for you. However, as a professional, I can let you know that it is much more efficient. It's less stress on everyone. Plus, you have time left for enjoying your wedding. It has taken you so long to plan it-- make the most out of it! Don't let the most important day of your life be remembered as the most stressful one! Tradition is such an important part of the wedding day for some, why not make the Magic Moment a new one."
- Benjamin of Custom Images, Huntsville AL Wedding Photographer
"Private Session on Your Wedding Day!
One of the most important requests (ahem, requirements) I make with brides is that they give me a 1Hr+ private photo session on their wedding day. Usually this happens after the ceremony, before the reception. Too often brides get caught up in the momentum of the day, getting swept away here, then being pulled there, sometimes to the point of having no time for photos of just her and her new husband or wedding party. I always ask them, "Do you really want all your photos to be your aunts and uncles?" I understand that my clients love their guests, but I am also keenly aware of their strong desire for stunning wedding photos. Typically the most creative images I create happen during this private photo session. Being away from the crowds, this is also when some of the most romantic, intimate photos can be captured. I feel it's imperative that some kind of private photo session be officially arranged (no "if we have time") into the itinerary so that these special photographs can be captured. Friends and family are always understanding of this time, and I have never had a bride regret that they did it. In fact, we usually have a blast at the session, and as a result many of the winning images are born. So don't forget to arrange that private photo session!"
- JC of JC Image Design, San Ramon CA Wedding Photographer
"Planning your time:
At Nick Corona Photography we encourage our brides and grooms to plan enough
time for ultimate photographs. Even getting 30 minutes, with the bride and
groom exclusively, will increase the romance and memories your photos will
Plan a time line, hand it out to all those providing service, and then hold
them accountable for sticking to it. Just remember, this is your special
day...don't let anyone, not even us, take your time away from where you want
it to be!"
- Nick of Nick Corona Photography, Norco CA Wedding Photographer
"If you have a large extended family that you would like photographed during formals make a short list so that no one is left out during the fast paced formals time. Keep in mind, the shorter the list the better because that will give your photographer more time to photograph the most important couple."
- Todd of Thamer Photography, Brookline NH Wedding Photographer
"1.Be on time, I know this is hard to believe but things get rushed especially on wedding days. If you show up 40 minutes late for a photo session you're not going to get as many photographs to choose from, you won't be as relaxed, and in some cases you will be paying the photographer to stand around. We suggest to plan on being 15 minutes early and if there are people in your group that are chronically late, tell them to be 15 to 30 minutes early (you know the people we're talking about).
2.When you are going to be outside bring a bottle of water, and some loose face powder, especially if it is hot.
3.Women, bring a few safety pins for the bra straps, and a few extra hair pins just in case that veil starts to fall out.
4.If you're prone to double chins keep your chin up to help reduce the double chin.
5.Make sure the flowers are going to be there. Pre-arrange for them to be delivered or picked up so you don't have to worry about them on your wedding day. If this is going to be an all day event you may want to have your flowers refreshed by a florist. Finally have the florist pre-label the flowers, so the right person gets the right flower.
- Jody of Ethington Photography, Mesa AZ Wedding Photographer
"Beautiful brides, As time nears, please make sure you always schedule enough time in between the ceremony and reception to travel to a few amazing spots for intimate photos of just you and your new husband... That's the wonderful stuff you'll always remember..."
- Miss Ann of Photos by Miss Ann, Northville MI Wedding Photographer
"It is very important for the Pre-wedding photos to be done at least 1 1/2
to 2 hours before the ceremony starts. The more photos that are done before
time, the quicker the reception can get started after the wedding ends. This
reduces anxiety and impatience on the guests while they are waiting for the
traditional after wedding photos to be taken. Also don't compromise on
"quality" in exchange for a "low-price" when selecting a photographer. Your
wedding memories are priceless. Nothing can take the place of a professional
- Kenneth of Berry's Wedding Photography, Albany GA (Serving Nationwide)
"Make sure your flowers will be delivered early enough for the
photos. Make sure you have your limosine for enough time that you will
need it, allowing for if things run a little late, as they often do. Make
sure you have thought about where to have your photos done especially if
it rains; have a backup plan and make sure that space is available. Tell
your bridesmaids to arrive at the getting ready location a little earlier
than necessary in case any of them tend to run late or something goes
wrong. You might want to call your cake company, limo company, and
florist to make sure everything is set and they have not misplaced the
paperwork. If you plan to do your photos before the ceremony make sure
your florist will deliver the bridal bouquets and those flowers needed for
bridal party are on time and if the wedding is at a hotel make sure the
hotel will accept the delivery of those flowers early. If you are having
a Jewish wedding if the hall is not available early the hotel might refuse
the delivery of the flowers if they determine that the huppah cannot be
constructed early so make sure you get the flowers for your bridal party
early enough for when you need them!"
Beth of Beth Fridinger Photography
"The best advice I have for brides is to not over book your wedding day! It is a temptation to include every tradition under the sun, but can become overwhelming to keep up the schedule. Allow yourself plenty of time to really celebrate with your guests and of course, to celebrate with your new husband!"
- Jessi of Jessi LeMay Photography, Reno NV Wedding Photographer