Are you wondering how to create the perfect wedding day timeline? We’ve got you covered!
As most of us aren’t planners, you probably don’t know anything about a wedding day timeline. As wedding photographers, we were lucky enough to be a part of countless weddings. So even if we’re not wedding planners, we definitely can help you with this matter.
Planning a wedding can be an overwhelming and stressful task, that’s why we want to help you in the process. A wedding day timeline is not only helpful for you, but it will also help any vendors present for your wedding. It will assure you that everyone is on the same page and know what’s the next part. A real lifesaver (and timesaver) who will allow you to fully enjoy your day.
Here is a general wedding day timeline from our wedding photographer’s point of view. You’ll just have to add the hours depending on your situation. Almost all weddings use this template so we think it will help you if you’re starting from scratch. We highly advise you to plan extra time for each part so you’re not rushing all day long. Be realistic and don’t forget to include the transportation time between locations!
Table of contents
WEDDING DAY TIMELINE EXAMPLE
1. Bride & Groom getting ready + Bridesmaids and Groomsmen photos
The beginning of the day!
As wedding photographers, we always come a bit in advance so we can introduce ourselves to your loved ones. That way they know us personally and it’s always a good thing as we will take pictures of them during the rest of the day.
Then, we take photos of all the important details before taking pictures of you. We always advise our couples to prepare a few objects before the day such as wedding rings, earrings, perfume, shoes and so on! Taking pictures of all those details helps to set the scene and get complete coverage of the day.
The last step is taking pictures of you guys! As we’re two photographers we can split if needed (if you’re getting ready at two different places for example). Most of the time it takes literally 2 minutes for the groom to get ready. So if we don’t split, we start with the groom by taking a few shots (15 minutes max). Then we continue with groomsmen’s photos.
For the bride, preparation is of course longer. We still photograph details, her putting her make-up and dress on, and we finish with the bridesmaid’s photos and portraits. This can last between 1 hour and a half up to 2 hours depending on the wedding.
2. First look
One of our favorite moments of the day! This is usually a nice intimate moment for the couple and it’s always full of emotions. This time of the day is really only about the two of you. No groomsmen, no bridesmaids, no family. Only the two of you! You’ll see each other for the first time, spend an intimate moment and then get amazing couple’s portraits. By doing a first look you’ll also have much more time to spend with your guests during the day as you will already have your couple’s photos. That’s definitely something to take into consideration.
For the ceremony, you have to consider two important things in your wedding day timeline. The first one is at what time your guests are supposed to be there. The second thing is, at what time you both (or only the bride if you want to see each other for the first time at the ceremony) should be there. Usually, we recommend the guests arrive at least 30 minutes before the bride.
4. Group and Family photos
Just after the ceremony and all your loved ones did congratulates you, we suggest you have your group and family photos. The best tip we can give you here is to write a list of all different group combinations and to give that list to your photographer or another person in charge to call the different groups to take the photos. It will save you a lot of time! Group and family photos are really an important moment of the day. But as soon these photos are taken as soon everybody can enjoy the rest of the day. Plus, it will give you more time for your couple’s photos.
5. Couple portraits
As we already took pictures of groomsmen and bridesmaids, this moment is only dedicated to you, the couple. If you didn’t had a first look, it will be your first couple’s photos of the day. On the opposite, if you did have a first look you don’t have to do couple’s portraits now. We advise you to do it for sunset when the light is the most beautiful. So if you had a first look, go spend time with your guests!
Ok, so as wedding photographers this is mostly the time when we fly around and try to capture as many candid pictures as we can while you enjoy the company of your guests.
7. Reception & Party
(Until the end of the night!)
During the reception time, there are a lot of small but important events you need to plan. Here are some of them.
7.1 Guests to be seated and entrance
First, you have to write down the time when your guests should be seated. It will start the countdown of the evening. Then, it would help if you planned at what time you, the newlyweds, will make your big entrance so the DJ or the band can start the music.
7.2 First dance
Next is the first dance. Including the first dance in your wedding day timeline is useful for the DJ/band and the photographer. Like this everybody can prepare for this important moment.
After the first dance, it’s time for the speeches! As for the first dance, this is most important for your photographer and the music.
Meal time. This one is important for all vendors but even more for the caterer obviously.
7.5 Sunset portraits
Usually, at that time of the evening, we like to go take sunset portraits for a few minutes. Whether you did have a first look or not, it will be your second couple’s photos moment of the day. We highly recommend you to take some pictures at that time of the day because it’s when the light is at its best for photos. Plus, your guests won’t even notice you’re gone as they’re starting to eat!
Then you should write down at what time the meals are supposed to be finished and when the dancing starts so the DJ or band can know when to start playing.
7.7 Cake cutting and/or Exit
At the end of the evening is the cake cutting and/or the exit. This is the last milestone of the day and having it written down will let your photographer, the caterer, and all others vendors know what they have to do.
We hope this wedding day timeline will help you in your planning process. If you need more tips to prepare for your wedding day, feel free to take a look at other blog posts we created such as ours “tips to get beautiful wedding photos” or “tips to get the most of your getting ready photos”.
But remember, even if everything doesn’t go as planned on your wedding day, don’t freak out! As wedding photographers, we were lucky enough to capture countless weddings, and there is always a tiny stressful moment (never a big deal, don’t worry!). Like in life in general, try to embrace unexpected situations. It can be nice and they will make you for sure tons of memories!