Ideal Wedding Day Timeline | Wedding Advice

Advice

07/17/2019

One of the most important details for your wedding day and the one thing that will ensure the day runs smoothly, is a detailed timeline. The timeline tells your bridal party, your family, and all your vendors, where they need to be and more specifically what time they need to be there. You’ve spent alot of money on your reception specifically and if things earlier in the day run late, that affects the amount of time everyone has at the reception to enjoy the food, the drinks and the music. As important as the timeline is, I’d say it’s also the detail that confuses most brides. How much time does each vendor need to get ready and provide their service, which vendor should be the master lead of the timeline, how do you go about even starting a timeline. Well friends, I am happy to say that if you’re a Meghan Elizabeth Bride, I do this for you! Unless you have an amazing wedding planner, then I work alongside the planner to help in building the timeline.

To answer the big question, Which vendor is the vendor that really dictates the timeline of the day? The answer, the venue followed by the photography team.

First you start with your venue. What time is the ceremony starting? What time does the reception start? Does the reception start time include the cocktail hour or is that when they plan to introduce the bridal party once the guests have been seated. Then ask, what time you’re allowed to arrive on property. Once you have those three questions answered, head to your photographer.

Your photographer will then knowing your purchased hours of coverage be able to tell you what time they’ll arrive at your getting ready location to start your bridal details and getting ready portraits – which will then tell your beauty team what time they need to be finishing up hair and makeup. But also making sure that they’re arriving late enough in the day that they’re able to stay through most of the events of the reception. This will then inform the DJ/Planner as to what time the reception events need to be concluded and just have open dancing. You don’t want your DJ starting the cake cutting after your photographer has left.

So now what about an ideal wedding day timeline you ask, where’s that?! It’s right below.

But the first big question you need to determine is, Are you having a First Look or not?

The below timelines are sample timelines. Obviously they will be adjusted based on your ceremony and reception time, but these will give you a general idea of what your wedding day would look like and also answer the question of how much time is needed for each part of the day. Hopefully this is helpful in deciding how much coverage you wish to hire your photographer for.

Ideal Timeline WITH a First Look

2:30pm Photographer Arrives at Bride’s Getting Ready Location
Ideally by the time we arrive, hair and make-up is wrapping up and applying touchups. If something is going to delay the beginning of the day, it’s often HAMU). 

2:35pm – 3:15pm Photograph Bridal Details and Portraits of Bridesmaid’s hanging out and getting final beauty touch-ups

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

2:45pm Second Photographer heads to Groom
Groom should be dressed in his pants and shirt with his details set aside. My second will come in and quickly photograph his details and then photograph him putting those details on (i.e. tieing his tie, straightening his tie, putting on his shoes, putting on his jacket, etc.) This time is also perfect to grab some shots of the Groomsman party hanging out and a perfect time for a shot of the guys all dressed and toasting the groom.

3:00pm Bride gets into her dress and we grab some bridal portraits in the getting ready location

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

3:15pm Groom and Groomsman depart for ceremony site and have their portraits taken
Group shots of all of them together, individuals of the groom with each guy and then of course individuals of the groom

3:30pm Bride and Bridesmaids depart for ceremony site and upon arrival get tucked away

4:00pm First Look
The first look can take place at the getting ready location, ceremony, or reception location. It’s up to you! Although I’m happy to make recommendations based on what makes sense time wise as well as light wise. 

4:15pm Bride and Groom Portraits
Immediately following the first look, we’ll take a few minutes to grab some romantic portraits of the two of your together during this time that its just you two before the day takes over

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

4:30pm Bridal Party Portraits
We’ll bring your bridal party out and grab portraits of everyone together. Since we have so much time, we can get really creative and have alot of fun with this time with all of your best friends. 

5:00pm Bride and Bridesmaid Portraits
We’ll send the boys away to go get a cold one and hang out before the ceremony and take this time to grab portraits of all the bridesmaids together, individuals of the brides with each girl and of course a bunch of bridal portraits

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

5:30pm All Portraits Finished
Bride and girls head back inside and myself and second shooter head to the ceremony location and reception hall and photograph all the details

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

6:00pm Ceremony

6:40pm – 7:10pm Family Portraits
We tend to do family portraits immediately following the ceremony because everyone you need will be easy to grab. Please give your family notice before the wedding (through email or text) that we’ll be taking pictures following the ceremony and that they will be included in those portraits and request that they remain at the ceremony site until the photographer has released them to go to cocktail hour. This will help in speeding up the family portrait process if we don’t have to send someone to hunt down Uncle Bob. Also, prior to the wedding day during our meeting when we go over details, we will spend time creating a detailed list of each family photo you want. This way my second shooter or assistant can run through and create a next batter up lineup, which continues to help move through this process quickly. 

7:15pm – 7:30pm Additional Bridal Party and Bride & Groom Portraits
This is the time for any final Bridal Party Portraits that weren’t captured before the ceremony due to time. But more importantly and more often than not, this is the time that we capture those “Just Married” portraits during golden hour! 

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

7:15pm Cocktail Hour
Depending on what we were able to capture before the ceremony, you may opt out of the additional portrait time and go enjoy your cocktail hour! This is on of the big advantages of having a first look, you may get to attend your cocktail hour. 

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

7:30pm Introductions and First Dance

7:45pm Welcome Toasts and salads followed by speeches and entrees

8:45pm Dancing Begins
This includes special dances such as Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances 

9:00pm Cake Cutting followed by Bouquet Toss

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

9:15pm Open Dancing

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

10:00pm Sparkler Exit/Special Exit

Special Exits should happen about 30 minutes before your photographer departs. 

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

10:30pm Photographer Leaves

11:30pm Reception Ends

 

Ideal Timeline WITHOUT a First Look

3:30pm Photographer Arrives at Bride’s Getting Ready Location

3:35pm – 4:00pm Photograph Bridal Details and Portraits of Bridesmaid’s hanging out and getting final beauty touch-ups

Ideal Wedding Day TimelineIdeal Wedding Day Timeline

3:45pm Second Photographer heads to Groom

4:00pm Bride gets into her dress and we grab some bridal portraits in the getting ready location

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

4:15pm Groom and Groomsman depart for ceremony site and have their portraits taken

4:30pm Bride and Bridesmaids depart for ceremony site
Upon arrival get tucked away while we make sure the groomsman are hiding. Once it’s confirmed the boys are hidden and won’t see the girls, we bring the girls out for portraits. 

5:00pm Bride and Bridesmaid Portraits

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

5:30pm All Portraits Finished
Bride and girls head back inside and myself and second shooter head to the ceremony location and reception hall and photograph all the details

6:00pm Ceremony

6:40pm – 7:10pm Family Portraits

7:10pm – 7:20pm Bridal Party Portraits
We’ll spend 10 minutes quickly grabbing a few portraits of the entire bridal party together. They’ll be asked to stay at the ceremony location until these are finished so that we don’t loose them to the cocktail hour. 

7:20pm-7:30pm Bride and Groom Portraits

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

7:30pm Introductions and First Dance

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

7:45pm Welcome Toasts and salads followed by speeches and entrees

8:45pm Dancing Begins

9:00pm Cake Cutting followed by Bouquet Toss

9:15pm Open Dancing

11:00pm Sparkler Exit/Special Exit

11:30pm Reception Ends & Photographer Leaves

Another major detail to keep in mind is the season you’re getting married in!

If you’re getting married in the summer, having a 6pm ceremony with your portraits happening at 7pm is completely fine and actually ideal due to the sun.

However, if you’re getting married in the colder months (November – March/April depending on Day Light Savings Time), getting married at 6pm means that the sun has set at 5:00pm and your ceremony will be in the dark and all of your portraits will have to be captured with flash. Or you will be forced to do a first look to make sure we can all portraits including family formals taken prior to the ceremony.

 

If you found this Ideal Wedding Day Timeline blog post helpful, you might also find these blogs helpful:
Why Do Couples Need A Wedding Planner? | Guest Feature | Angelica & Co Weddings
One Trick to Get The Best Reception Photos | Wedding Wednesday Tip
3 Questions to Ask Your Baker | WinniE’s Bakery 

Credits for First Look Wedding | Julie & Kyle’s Wedding
Venue | Springfield Manor Winery, Distillery & Brewery
Videographer | BE Videography
Florist | Scentsational Florals 
Cake & Cupcakes | Angel Cakes
Band | Bachelor Boys Band 
Makeup Artist | Up Do’s for I Do’s & Fields Artistry
Hair Artist | Up Do’s for I Do’s
Wedding Dress Boutique | Bridal Boutique in Columbia
Wedding Dress Designer | Maggie Sottero
Bridesmaid Dresses | Bridal Boutique in Columbia
Tuxes | Indochino 
Table & Bench Rentals | Barnes Farm Tables 
Photo Booth | Charm City Photo Booths
Second Shooter | Christine

Credits for Non-First Look Wedding | Lauren & Mike’s Wedding
Venue | Ceresville Mansion
Florist | Blossom and Basket Boutique
Cake | Sugar Bakers
Officiant | Ceremony by Rachael
DJ | Chris Styles Events
Videographer | Keston De Coteau
Second Shooter | Angel

 

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