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Wedding Day Timeline Planning | A Photographer’s POV

December 22, 2019

Wedding day Timeline planning

Wedding Day Timeline Planning from the Destination Wedding Photographer’s point to view 

Being a destination wedding photographer, I get asked often about how much time to allocate for each part of your wedding day agenda to ensure there’s enough time to capture each part of your day. While there’s no “right” way to schedule your wedding day itinerary, there are a tons of factors that go into creating one. Here, I’m going to offer the perspective from the photographer’s point-of-view and how much time I would seriously consider allocating to each portion of your wedding day to be photographed.

There are tons of tools and articles out there on how to actually structure your wedding day timeline and other logistics to take into consideration while creating one. As you go through the process remember to reach out to your photographer for help, they can give you the insight on realistic timing. Especially if you’re getting ready in one location and going to another for your ceremony and reception.

Below, I give a rough outline for both a First Look and one without (with the option to download a pdf version here).

Which Route to Take

I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a fan of the First Look especially if you have a tight timeline when it comes to ceremony and reception time. For example, you’re having a 5PM ceremony with your reception starting at 6PM, there is a sliver of time to capture portraits after your ceremony especially when this is the time we also capture family formals. Another great reason for having a First Look is to enjoy part of your cocktail hour with your guests.

If you do not want to buck tradition and forego the First Look, then you may have to squish in portraits or even consider Bride with Brides alone and the Groom with Groomsmen alone with the whole party taking place after the ceremony along with your family formals. All food for thought and again there is no right or wrong way to plan your day. I am here for you no matter what you choose!

The following timelines all take into consideration that your ceremony and reception take place at the same venue. if yours do not, you’ll need to consider the distance between each location. Those—and other factors, like traffic estimates—will affect how much extra time you need to allocate.

destination wedding timeline planning

Wedding Day Timeline | First Look and Family Formals Before Ceremony

Pros of this agenda:

  • Helps calm nerves before the ceremony and gives you a private moment to enjoy each other. 
  • The time between the ceremony and reception doesn’t have to drag out. Because most of the photographs are completed, the reception can start much quicker.

Cons: of this agenda:

  • Your day will start earlier due to all the photographs being before your ceremony Everyone has to get ready earlier in the day and you have to make sure your family knows where and when to meet before your ceremony for family formals.

Sample Timeline:

11:00 AM- Bridal party Getting ready

Photographer arrives – Hair and Make-up are almost finished with the bride and you’re almost ready to get into you dress (I recommend you give yourself a few minutes after your HMU are finished to use the restroom and change into your under garments while we’re photographing the guys).

11:00 AM – Photograph details

  • Photograph Details 
  • Suggested time: 30 Minutes

11:30 AM – Head to Grooms Room to photograph them getting ready 

  • Suggested time 30 minutes

12:00 PM – Back to Bridal Suite/Room
Dress On Photograph you and Bridesmaids 

  • Suggested time: 30 minutes

1:00 PM Leave room for First Look

1:15 PM – First Look/Bride & Groom Creative Session 

  • Suggested time: 45 minutes

2:00 PM – All Bridal Party Photos with Bride + Groom 

  • Suggested time: 30 minutes

2:30 PM – Family Formals (for some Family Formal tips click here!)

  • Suggested time: One Hour

3:30 PM – Relax time + Freshen Up (we go photograph the ceremony site.)

  • Suggested time: 30 minutes

4:00 PM – Ceremony 

  • Suggested time: One Hour

5:00 PM – Cocktail Hour 

  • Photograph reception room with no one in it and reception details.

5:30 PM – Newlywed couples session

  • Suggested time: 30 minutes

6:00 PM – Reception

  • Suggested time varies

Wedding Day Timeline no First Look

Pros of this agenda: 

  • It’s the traditional timeline route without a first look.
  • Your day can start a little later
  • Some couples love the idea of the “anticipation” being over and are able to and fully relax for their portraits!

Cons of this agenda:

  • Some weddings only allow for an hour in between the ceremony and reception. Timing is of the essence with family formals and creative session after your ceremony.
  • If you want to enjoy your cocktail hour, you’ll want to consider a first look.

12:00 PM – Photographer arrives – Hair and Make-up are almost finished with the bride and you’re almost ready to get into you dress (I recommend you give yourself a few minutes after your HMU are finished to use the restroom and change into your under garments while we’re photographing the guys).

  • Suggested time: 2 hours

2:00 PM – Dress On

  • Suggested time: 30 minutes

2:30 PM – Bride + Bridesmaids Photos

  • Suggested time: 45 minutes

3:15 PM – Groom + Groomsmen Photos

  • Suggested time: 45 minutes

4:00 PM – Relax time + Freshen Up

  • Suggested time: 30 minutes

4:30 PM – Ceremony

  • Suggested time: 30 minutes

5:00 PM – Family formals, cocktail hour begins (for some Family Formal tips click here!)

  • Suggested time: 30 minutes

5:30 PM – Creative Session with Bridal Party and Bride + Groom

  • Suggested time: 30 minutes

6:00 PM – Reception

  • Suggested time: varies

Destination wedding photography Four Seasons Oahu

Some food for thought, you spend days and hours daydreaming and planning your perfect wedding day, take advantage of your photographers time with you. I highly recommend hiring a planner to help you with your planning and your timeline as they are experts in the process. Remember, your wedding day goes by in a flash! When the food and flowers have been cleared, the cake has been cut, the dancing and merriment are over, your images are what you’ll have to look back on your wedding day over and over again so make sue you have everything captured!

To download these two versions of my suggested timelines click here.

Did you find these timelines helpful in planning your timeline? Save this image to your Pin Board now.

timeline wedding planning italy

p.s. If you’re looking for some helpful insights on Hawaii’s Best Wedding Venues click here.

want to learn more about scheduling your timeline? Check out Lover.ly

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