Scroll to the bottom to see a sample wedding timeline!
1. Getting Ready Is Important
Those moments before you're all dressed can be some of the most fun of the day. Hair and makeup touch ups, all the girls in their robes, sipping bubbly, kickin' it with your Mom or sister and her zipping up your dress. It's also a good time for the photographer to arrive in order to get pictures of outfits and details.
2. First Looks With Loved Ones
Some of the most heartfelt moments of your day could be when your brother, dad or someone else special to you sees you for the first time. Having these memories photographed is priceless. It can be your dad, step-dad, both parents together, brother, grandparents, bridesmaids or all of them!
3. Love Letters, Gift Exchanges or Prayers
In the first picture below, Bre sent a letter to her husband-to-be, Bradley. Bre had been writing letters to her future husband for years, not knowing who it would eventually be and would start them all off with "dear future husband...". The letter she gave Bradley on her wedding day was the first letter she ever wrote that instead started with "Dear Bradley..." because it was the first time she had written one knowing they were destined to get married.
4. First Touch, Back To Back or Holding Hands Around A Doorframe
You can read love letters or hold hands around a doorframe before walking down the aisle. It's so cute! You can even maintain not actually seeing each other until the aisle moment if you prefer. You can even read lover letters to each and then turn around and see each other for the first time. The options are endless and all beautiful.
5. Include Buffer Time
Guests arrive to weddings crazy early. Yes, your distant aunt is going to arrive way too early while you're taking pictures and demand to see you. If you would prefer to avoid this, pictures need to be finished 45 minutes to an hour before the ceremony begins. Your photographer should account for this in the timeline they create for you. You can use this time to relax, breath and use the restroom.
Remember to eat! You're quite popular on your wedding day and it's going to be difficult to find time to eat. Use the time before entering your reception wisely. You can grab a snack, drink, have a private moment with your new husband/wife, bustle your dress, use the restroom. Make sure to request this time with your planner and photographer.
6. Lighting Is Everything
Time your day (within reason) to maximize good natural light. The very best light is 1-2 hours before posted sunset time. November-March couples, this one's for you! It gets dark earlier, do not have your portraits in the dark or too close to dark. If you don't want to have your ceremony start too early, consider having a first look with your partner earlier in the day. This will allow you to take advantage of the natural light for your pictures together.
April-October couples, this one's for you! Your best sunlight might not be until after 6 or 7pm. If you had an earlier ceremony, you can sneak out during dinner and grab some beautiful golden hour pictures with your photographer. It should only take about 10 minutes and is well worth it.
Remember, Rushing Your Photographer Rushes You
Trying to rush through all of the above events to fit within your photographer's hours of coverage will stress you out. If you have to stick with a certain amount of hours, consider trimming photo coverage at the end of the night rather than rushing through precious moments earlier in the day. Be direct and ask your planner and photographer if what you're trying to include is realistic or in danger of not all fitting within the schedule.
Wedding Day Photo Timeline Sample
The wedding timeline draft below is for our fictitious couple, Summer & Chris. They have elected not to have a first look, but did want to incorporate some first touches and love letters to each other before the ceremony. There is ample buffer time included so nobody is in a huge hurry and important moments are not rushed. There is no transportation to multiple locations because their fictitious venue hosts the entire day. How nice! The date is May 10th, sunset at 8:26pm. Their reception is 3.5 hours from reception introductions to exit time.
So here we go!
1:00 - Photographers arrive, Girls have already been getting ready earlier in the morning
1:05 - Photographers take pictures of Summer's dress and other details
1:30 - Summer’s hair and makeup finished, get a few touch up pictures
1:45 - Fun pictures of Bridesmaids in pjs/robes + cheers with mimosas!
2:00 - All persons helping with Summer's dress needs to be ready (prioritize in order)
2:00 - Summer gets dressed
2:15 - All Bridesmaids dressed and ready for first look with Summer
2:20 - First look with Bridesmaids + Mom
2:30 - First look with Summer's dad (have her Mom nearby to watch)
2:45 - First look with Summer's brother or step-dad
3:00 - Girls all ready for group pictures (with bouquets)
3:05 - Girls group pictures (one Photographer stays with Girls)
3:15 - Guys start getting dressed and ready for photo coverage (one Photographer goes to Guys)
3:30 - Girls group pictures all done, go hide from Groom & arriving guests
3:40 - Guys all dressed and ready for pictures (with boutonnieres)
3:45 - Guys group pictures
4:15 - Groom's side group pictures all done, go inside
4:15 - Time set aside for gift exchanges or first look with Grandma
4:30 - Time set aside for bathroom breaks and breathing
4:45 - Love letters + holding hands around a doorframe with Summer & Chris
5:00 - Prayers and/or relaxation time before the ceremony
5:05 - Photos of ceremony and venue details + prepare for ceremony
5:30 - Ceremony begins
6:00 - Ceremony ends
6:05 - Cocktail hour begins
6:10 - Family pictures begin after guests clear and hugs are exchanged
6:30 - Family pictures finished
6:35 - A few quick shots of the Full Wedding Party together
6:45 - Summer & Chris portraits together
7:10 - Portraits all done
7:15 - Summer & Chris private time together: Bustle dress, bathroom break, eat/drink, make out!
7:15 - Cocktail hour ends, guests move into reception space
7:30 - Reception begins with introductions
7:40 - First dances (couple + parents)
7:55 - Dinner
8:26 - Sunset
8:30 - Speeches begin during dinner
9:00 - Cut the cake
9:15 - Dancing + mingling
10:30 - Bouquet Toss
10:45 - Last song / Announce exit
11:00 - Grand Exit
This is just one of a million different ways to schedule your wedding day.
If you're planning a midweek elopement for just a few hours, we got you!
The wedding timeline draft below is for our fictitious couple, Summer & Chris. They're planning a larger wedding for fall 2021 at a venue with 150 guests, but didn't want until then to get married. Ever since COVID started, they've been rearranging their plans and just don't want to wait any longer. So they are eloping with 15 of their closest loved ones to a nature area in North Georgia and having a small outdoor reception nearby directly afterward. They rented an AirBnB for the reception and for getting ready. Their friend Emily got ordained online to marry them! They have elected not to have a first look, but did want to incorporate some first touches and love letters to each other before the ceremony. Cute eh!?
5:00pm - Photographers arrive, get a shot of the dress hanging
5:15pm - Summer’s hair and makeup finished, get a few touch up pictures
5:25pm - Summer gets dressed
5:45pm - Time for any first looks with parents or other loved ones
5:50pm - Travel to Ceremony location
6:15pm - Arrive at Ceremony Location, touch ups
6:20pm - Love letters + holding hands around a corner with Summer & Chris
6:30pm - Allow guests to walk to location and get settled
6:45pm - Ceremony begins
7:10pm - Ceremony ends
7:15pm - Group pictures start
7:30pm - Group pictures finished, guests travel to Reception
7:35pm - Summer & Chris portraits together
8:00pm - Portraits all done, travel to Reception
8:20pm - Buffer Time for bustle dress, bathroom break, eat/drink, make out!
8:26pm - Sunset
8:30pm - First dance(s) outside under twinkle lights
8:45pm - Cut the cake
9:00pm - Sparkler pictures!
This is just one of a million different ways to schedule your wedding day. You could do something just like this, just skip the driving and get married at the Airbnb or incorporate other fun things!
If you are Interested in chatting about an Elopement Package, CLICK ME.