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  • Writer's pictureTaryn Pickard

Planning Your Wedding Day Timeline

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

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One of the most common questions I receive from wedding couples is, "how much time should we allot for everything?" That can be a hard question to answer, and the answer is different for everyone’s wedding day. That being said, there are definitely some commonalities and I would love to share that info with you today!

To start with, most weddings generally consist of 6-7 parts: getting ready, ceremony, formal photos, wedding party photos and reception. Some weddings also include a first look and/ or a separate time for couple’s photos. Each of these parts generally take a certain amount of time, but may vary based on what you as a couple want to capture. Also, don't forget to include travel time between locations if you want to go to more than one location for photos!

Getting Ready: Getting ready photos usually count for 45 minutes-2 hours of your photo time depending on whether or not you have makeup and hair coming to your hotel, or if you are going to the salon. However, they obviously count for a lot more than that in general time for your wedding day. Your photographer just doesn’t have to be present for the entire time ;)

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First Look: First looks are a great way to have an intimate moment with just you and your spouse to be before the ceremony. So what is a first look? It’s essentially a reveal to each other of how amazing you both look without a bunch of people around.

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Ceremony: Most ceremonies last between 30 minutes and an hour. It’s usually best to plan for your ceremony to last an hour, and longer if you are planning to have a receiving line.

For best photo results, it is also best to avoid having a mid-day ceremony. Overhead sun tends to create strange facial shadows, etc. For the northern hemisphere in the summer time, I recommend either having an early morning ceremony or a mid- late afternoon (after 3:00) ceremony.

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Formal Photos: Formal photos can be a fantastic and fast experience or a nightmare. Allotting an hour for formal photos is usually safe, as long as people stick around and are organized. It is best to do these photos directly after the ceremony so people don’t wander away, have a detailed list of every shot you want with each family member, and to let them know ahead of time that you need them to stick around for photos after the ceremony.

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Wedding Party Photos: The wedding party photos are often photographed in a separate location. It is best to allot about an hour for wedding party photos, plus travel time to whichever location you want your photos taken at. It is also a great idea to have some idea of the type of photos you want with your people. We also usually do some couple’s photos during this time.

Some people also opt to do wedding photos before their ceremony to get them out of the way and so they can have a ceremony later in the afternoon (which I highly recommend).

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Reception: The reception usually goes well into the night, as you and your people decide to enjoy each other and party! That being said, your photographer doesn’t usually stay for that entire time. I often suggest keeping your photographer around for about an hour of dancing, which hopefully happens after dark! When planning your reception timeline, you may want to allot time for dinner, speeches, dessert and first dances, and then let the rest unfold how it may.

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Couple’s Photos: Couple’s photos often happen to some extent along with wedding party photos, but the real magic couple’s images happen right as the sun is setting. I always recommend setting aside about 45 minutes for the three of us to sneak away from your guests during the reception, right as the sun sets. This time is not only about us capturing beautiful images, but also about you and your partner taking some quiet time to reflect on the amazing choices you just made and enjoying one another’s company. This may be the only alone time that you get throughout the day.

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I hope this info was helpful for you. Don't be afraid to make your wedding day plans your own. The day is about you and your partner, and showcasing your love for one another.

Here is the timeline drawn out for you as an example of what it may look like, from the information above.

Also, just another reminder to remember to include travel times when you are planning your wedding day!

wedding day timeline
Wedding Day Timeline

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