Can you imagine a better wedding than a day that has no stress and everything happens exactly as it should? The makeup artist gets you looking perfect, in time for photos, family and wedding party members arrive as scheduled, the guests are swaying to the music and having a brilliant time and you, the newlyweds, can soak it all in, enjoying what you've worked so hard to bring about.
A stress-free wedding may sound too good to be true, but it really isn't that hard to achieve. You really can have the wedding of your dreams and enjoy it too. As I've spent the majority of my weekends photographing wedding after wedding, I have witnessed that the secret is actually in the timeline.
You may be thinking that you're not the timeline kind of person. You'd rather go with the flow and be spontaneous.
Just hear me out. When we create a well-planned wedding day timeline, everyone will be on the same page. That means that everyone involved with your wedding (vendors, family, friends, and even guests) won't come running to you every few moments to figure out what is going on. Everything will essentially run itself, leaving you to slow down, breathe, and take in each beautiful moment as it happens.
While Wedding Timelines are important to help you cherish your day, they are also absolutely essential for photographers (as well as your other vendors). They help us know what we are photographing when, and ensures that we'll have enough time to capture the images needed to tell your story.
As your photographer, I am happy to be a resource for you in all aspects of your wedding, which is why I create your Wedding Timeline and Photography Schedule for YOU. Four months before your wedding, I'll send out a questionnaire and get all the details from you so that I can create the custom Wedding Timeline. One less thing for you to think about.
But to keep you in the loop, before I start customizing your Wedding Timeline, this is what I start with. Keep in mind, this schedule is customized for each wedding, based on the unique logistics of your day, such as ceremony time, travel time, and sunset time:
- 12:00 I Arrive for Getting Ready Photos & Details
- 12:45 All Hair & Makeup Finished (HARD STOP)
- 1:00 Dress On; Final Touches
- 1:30 First Look with Dad/Travel to meet Groom
- 2:00 First Look; Bride & Groom Portraits
- 2:30 Wedding Party Portraits
- 3:00 Family Portraits
- 3:30 Travel to Church
- 4:00 Photos Finished (Guests Begin to Arrive) / Details, Details!
- 4:30 Bride in Hiding
- 5:00 Ceremony Begins
- 6:00 Ceremony Ends; Just Married Portraits at the Church; Guests travel to reception
- 6:30 Couple travels to reception; Joins the Cocktail Hour or Freshens Up
- 7:00 Guests are Seated for Dinner
- 7:15 Grand Entrance to Reception; Dinner is served
- 7:45 Special Dances
- 8:00 Toasts & Cake Cutting
- 8:30 Formal Exit
- 9:00 Open Dancing
- 10:00 Photography Coverage Ends
While you are getting started with Hair and Makeup, this is when time to photograph all the getting ready details such as jewelry, shoes, the dress, cufflinks, your hair & makeup being done, etc. I don’t want any of that time to feel rushed, so I build it into the photography schedule.
I also note a HARD STOP time for all hair and makeup. This HARD STOP is intended for everyone. Bride, bridesmaids and Mother of the Bride. Everyone needs to be finished getting ready at this time so that they’ll be dressed and beautiful while I photograph the bride putting on her gown.
I also schedule a specific start and end time (30 minutes) for the bride to put her dress to go on. While it doesn't usually take 30 minutes to put on the wedding dress, it does allow time to slip on jewelry, hug Mom, laugh with your bridesmaids and just enjoy the moment. Plus, I'll be able to spend a few minutes photographing just the bride before heading out for the First Look.
The HARD STOP helps your makeup artists and hair stylists know when they need to be completely DONE. It allows for a small time cushion if something happens to make us run late.
The First Look is really all about emotion, intimate moments, and providing you and your fiance a few minutes to relax and enjoy alone time with each other on your Wedding Day! Because this is prime time for the two of you to feel your emotions, talk together and just live in the moment, it is the most ideal time for me to capture the most candid, emotional and genuine expressions from the both of you.
Between the First Look and Formal Portraits of the two of you before the ceremony, we'll need to schedule a full hour. After all, this is the time when you are both looking and feeling your best!
Also, if worse comes to worse and things run late during the getting ready process, we don’t need to use the full hour of couple time – we have also scheduled some time after the ceremony. We can relax through the first look, grab a few portraits, and just move right into the wedding party portraits and make up some time, if needed.
Before you know it, the Wedding is set in motion and moments are flying by. The First Look is all about giving you a moment to breathe, relax, and enjoy a few intimate moments together. Ultimately it emphasizes the two of you and this celebration of your marriage with family and friends!
Now is the time to showcase your dapper groomsmen in their tuxes and your lovely ladies all dolled up. They've come to stand by your side and celebrate as you begin this new life as husband and wife, so I want to be sure we highlight them as well!
I schedule 30 minutes for Wedding Party Portraits, which is just enough time for you to gather in close with your besties, laugh together, and flash a few smiles for the camera. I get all the classic pictures (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 photos of you laughing together and just enjoying this moment.
The mood of your wedding party has a huge impact on the success of these photos. Be sure to let them know ahead of time that we intend this to be fun and lively! Rather than feeling stiff in front of the camera, they should feel free to crack jokes and signature one liners!
The next step on our wedding day timeline is Family Portraits! I photograph these just after (and in some cases, just before) the Wedding Party portraits. I also schedule 30 minutes for the family portraits.
A few months before your wedding, when I send out the wedding questionnaire (which I use to create your Photography Timeline) you'll also be able to answer a few questions regarding your family portraits list. Combining your answers with my standard portrait list, I create a custom plan to streamline your family portraits. That means your family members get to enjoy a few moments IN the photos with you, but it's not too long before they get to enjoy cocktail hour as well!
I highly recommend doing the family portraits BEFORE the ceremony. This is because there are not nearly as many distractions (i.e pulling people back from cocktail hour) and we can move very quickly. Plus, then family members can greet wedding guests and enjoy cocktail hour immediately after the ceremony!
But there is one more perk to having family portraits before the ceremony. And that is we get to save the most amazing sunset light after the ceremony for your "Just Married" Bride & Groom portraits!
Thirty minutes before your ceremony time is what I like to call "Bride in Hiding". This is when most of your guests start to arrive, and we want to be sure the bride is nicely tucked away from view. That means we will be finished with photos at least 30 minutes before your invitation time. While you freshen up, I will photograph the beautiful details of your ceremony and reception setup, as well as candid photos of your guests arriving and mingling.
While you freshen up be sure to take a moment to relax and breathe. This is literally the moment you have been waiting for. The moment you've worked so hard to prepare for and the reason everyone is here to celebrate! As you pause to take it all in, you’ll have more recollection of the emotional walk down the aisle!
Bride & Groom Portraits
After the ceremony is over, you get to let loose a little and just enjoy being newlyweds on your wedding day! Because we photographed the must-have images before the ceremony, this time is purely to celebrate you! The light will be soft and romantic, no one will be watching the countdown till the ceremony or you, for that matter! And you can relax and spend a few minutes alone together! (Well, mostly alone - I'll only be there to photograph the two of you just being in love!)
Because all the other photos have been taken before the ceremony, we only need to 30 minutes (about half of the cocktail hour) for Bride and Groom portraits. Then you can choose to hide away for a few completely solitary moments together before the reception, or join your guests and enjoy your signature cocktails and appetizers.
If sunset's golden rays do not line up with cocktail hour (instead setting later in the evening) we’ll send you in to the cocktail hour earlier, and schedule about 15-20 minutes to sneak away during the reception later. During the time it takes to play just a few songs, I'll photograph the two of you bathed in the most glorious light of the day. I can’t think of a more romantic way to enjoy your wedding day!
Once the reception begins, you’re only job is to HAVE FUN. During dinner, take a moment to pause and savor the sounds of all of your most precious friends and family celebrating together. We’ll be there to capture all of the amazing emotions and moments!
As I mentioned at the beginning, every wedding day has different plans and logistics. But based on my experience, this model for the timeline has the best results not only for your wedding photos, but also for you to enjoy your own celebration! And lucky for you, I'll do the heavy lifting in putting together your photography timeline and collaborating with your planner and other vendors.
And the last Pro Tip?! The secret to enjoying your day is to plan well ahead of time. When you have a solid plan, the day will run smoothly, and the only thing you need to think about is being madly in love, newly wed and present for every precious moment!