The Basics

There truly is an art to organizing and planning your timeline for your wedding day. This is a step-by-step look into how I help my couples achieve more relaxation on their wedding day.

Basically, it's broken down into sections. At its core, your wedding day is sectioned as follows:

-Getting Ready


-First Look (if applicable)

-Bridal Party/couples portraits

-Family Formals


-Additional portraits (as desired)


Let's dive into how a typical wedding day is broken down by time.

How long does everything take?

Detail photos are usually handled during the getting ready phase if the couple is getting ready onsite. If the couple is getting ready off site, details are handled when arriving at the venue, and can take up to 45 minutes to achieve.

Getting Ready photos really depend again on where you are getting ready. If you are getting ready onsite, it is very typical to allow at least 3hours for getting ready (hair and makeup/changing clothes/jewelry/etc) If you are getting ready off site, you also have to account for drive time.

First Look usually doesn't take much longer than 20 minutes from start to finish.

Bridal Party Portraits take about 1-1.5 hours to achieve. Generally speaking, bridal party goes first, then the couple will continue on.

Family Formals can easily be done within 1 hour if you have a well-written shot list. Your shot list should include the names of the participants/family members in a way that is easy to callout, making the flow much smoother.

Making Time

The easiest way to break down the time is to know how long the above events will take to accomplish. It's easiest to work from the ceremony backwards, then go back to the beginning of the day, and keep working like that. I'll explain.

Let's say the ceremony is at 5:00pm. The general rule is to have the couple tucked away about 45 minutes to an hour before the wedding. It is true that some wedding guests will arrive up to an hour early (no, I am not kidding.) This is especially true if you wedding is in a more remote location, or if parking is limited/less accessible at your venue.

Then we look at the beginning of the day. When are you allowed to occupy the venue for getting ready? In most cases, venues will allow couples to enter when they open (around 8:00am or 9:00am.) For the purposes of this article, let's just say 8:00am.

So, the getting ready process can begin as early as 8:30 depending on the hair and makeup team hired. If we are going by "standard" timeline rules, you should be ready for first look by 11:30, or easily take a little break. Sometimes it's nice to gather some individual photos of the bride and groom (or bride and bride or groom and groom) at this time before the first look. Either way, taking a small meal break is never a bad idea.

First look can be done at 12:00 which is a great day-breaker. No more hiding the bride, so to speak. Everyone is free to roam about the cabin, seatbelt signs off.

At around 12:30, we can either adjourn for a lunch /snack break, or proceed with portraits!

1:00 Bridal Party portraits/Couple Portraits. Since there are so many variations of photos that can be taken WITH the bridal party, I do like to allot myself a couple of hours for this. This gives us scene variation, and allows for enough time to get individual photos with the couple, and larger group shots. After we have moved from bridal party portraits, we can move directly into couple portraits.

3:00 Family photos. Since they take roughly an hour to achieve, they can be completed by 4:00 easily.

4:00: Tuck the couple away so as not to be seen by your guests, pre-ceremony.

5:00 Ceremony

Following Ceremony: More portraits (just couple, if perfered) Then on to the reception!

Simply Put...

This day would look like

8:30 Getting ready/Details

12:00 First Look (if no first look, individual couple's images; Just bride then Just Groom)

12:30 Break

1:00- Bridal Party Portraits/Couple Portraits

3:00- Family Formals

4:00- Rest time before ceremony

5:00 -Ceremony

After Ceremony- Post wedding portraits

It is important to note:

Even with the MOST MATICULOUS timeline, things can run behind or ahead of schedule. It should always be considered a "loose" timeline, which helps you better understand the overall layout of your day, which in turn will make you feel less stressed about "how much time" you have until the next phase. The idea is total relaxation, not stressing to stay within the timeline.

Even if...

... this doesn't match your wedding times or schedule, it's a great resource for knowing about how long you will need for each phase of your wedding day. There are so many factors that play into your wedding day, and that's what makes it unique from all others. Working with me means having help to break down your wedding timeline! Let me know how I can help!