Creating the perfect day of wedding timeline can face some challenges - especially if you haven't done a lot of weddings or attended many even as a guest! Part of our wedding photography packages includes assistance creating a custom timeline with our couples. It's often one of the first things we chat about when we first meet (in Zoom or for coffee). The timeline or schedule of your big day actually helps us with many other questions we may have for your day! It also helps to set expectations for us as your photographer or for the couple themselves.
Many times when we first meet a couple they aren't even sure of how many hours they need coverage for regardless of their budget. Are hair and makeup photographs very important? Does the couple want time built in for a longer bridal or groom portrait session? Will they be having a first look, first touch, parent first look? Will they be having an exit? If a couple is having a first look this can save some time when it comes to doing portraits during cocktail hour. My hot take as a photographer is that it's definitely more the trend for most couples to want to actually attend and enjoy their cocktail hour with their guests! Couples are less and less afraid of breaking the traditional molds that the wedding day used to reliably have.
Another idea we always suggest for our couples is if they want to do an exit tradition from their reception that they should do it earlier in the night rather than the actual end. This way more guests are there to fill their photos and it relieves older guests and guests with young children so that they may know they can leave when they please to. Typically this works by having your DJ or band announce for guests to go to a certain location to pick up sparklers or bubble wands for some professional images but that the party isn't over, that dance floor is just starting to heat up! Another reason we do this is so that you as our clients are not inundated with a large amount of dance floor photographs that get repetitive (same guests dancing over and over again, never mind that open bar adding on to it)!
With all of that said, I hope you can use this as a guide to walk through a wedding timeline and stick to it! We strive to keep our couples on time and make sure the things that are the most important to them are our priority.
1. Getting Ready (Pre-Ceremony):
Bride and groom preparations (Second shooter goes to groom for getting ready photographs - this can include groom details, portraits of just groom/parent and any groomsmen).
Candid shots of hair and makeup
Details shots of dress, shoes, and accessories
Flat Lay & Ring shots
Bridal portraits - portraits with any parents/bridesmaids if flowers are there. (For our Ultimate 10 hour package this is an extended bridal session).
Typically one of us if on reception location will get venue photographs when it's set up/prior to anyone else's arrival.
2. First Look /touch (Optional):
Capture the emotional moment of the couple seeing each other for the first time or holding hands.
Private vow or other letter reading is also optional
Another option is a first look with Bride's parent or parents/someone else special to them.
Photographers check to make sure or swap batteries for ceremony.
Arrival of guests
Ceremony venue details
Processional and recessional shots
Exchange of vows and rings
First kiss as a married couple
Candid reactions of the couple and guests
4. Formal Portraits (some or all can be skipped if they had a first look).
Photographer checks list of family portrait shots to ensure everyone is there.
Family group photos
Bridal party portraits
Couple's portraits at various locations
5. Cocktail Hour:
Candid shots of guests mingling
More Detail shots of the venue and decor
Photographers swap batteries again if needed so they have a fresh set in prior to reception entrances.
Photographers swap SD cards and put prior ones in shockproof waterproof case.
Entrance of the bridal party (optional)
Entrance of the couple
Toasts and speeches
Cake cutting (optional or can also have a private one without an announcement to guests).
Candid shots of guests dancing and enjoying the celebration
7. OPTIONAL - Last chance for portraits - most couples opt out of these to enjoy their reception.
Capture the couple during the golden hour for stunning outdoor photos or direct flash photos outside or at the bar.
8. Other fun ideas!
Table dash - have the musician or DJ play one or two lively songs depending on the guest count - try to run to every table before the song runs out and grab a picture of the couple in front of each table!
Dance Floor Dash- The opposite of a table dash - stand on the dance floor and have each table announced. Have each table of guests surround the couple for a quick picture - all the tables must be done before the song/songs run out! (This is definitely preferred by photographers so their settings stay the same)!
Sparkler exit or other special nighttime moments - can do this earlier as a "fake" exit if contracted time is running out.
Candid shots of the couple leaving the venue (optional/if contract allows by time booked).
10. Say goodbye!
Photographers - make sure your couple knows when you're contracted to leave, if you allow extending it on the day of and make sure to say goodbye and thank them when you've packed up!
Couples - thank your vendors! Let them know how appreciated they are. For most vendors - photographers especially - we are with you ALL day on our feet and the work has just begun. It takes photographers countless hours of editing time to deliver your gallery and products. It's so nice to feel valued! We pour our hearts into each couple we work with - you are truly all so important to us and we love to keep in touch!