Your wedding day is quickly approaching, and you're being asked by your wedding party, your venue, and your other vendors what your wedding day timeline is. And you feel so lost about how to make the perfect timeline! You don't want to forget anything, and you want to make sure you get all the photos you've been dreaming of, all while being able to ENJOY your wedding day.
So, you Google search "wedding day timeline" and come up with wayyyyy too many variations of a timeline that just doesn't fit with YOUR wedding day. I'll let you in on a secret: One of the best ways to plan your timeline is to ask your photographer for help!
I offer wedding timeline planning for all of my couples because I realize how much of the wedding day actually relies on the amount of time it takes to get the beautiful photos my couples want. I want to be clear that you can always do whatever YOU want for your timeline (it's your big day, after all!), but if you've come to this blog post, then you're probably wanting a little guidance. I'm here to help!
DETAIL SHOTS: 45-60 MINUTES
This probably sounds like a lot of time, right? I get it, but creating a gorgeous flat lay for your invitation suite, finding the best place to hang your dress, and getting all the bride and groom details is actually a very time-consuming process. We always recommend adding more time than you think you'll need to your timeline. It's so easy for wedding days to get behind schedule, but it's best to get these detail shots out of the way right when your photographer arrives. That way, we can focus on you!
GROOM GETTING READY: 15-20 MINUTES
We recommend taking the groom's getting ready photos first. The guys almost always get ready quicker than the girls anyway, and that way you won't have to sit around in your delicate dress for longer than necessary. Some of the best shots for the groom's getting ready photos include fixing his tie, putting on his cufflinks, and putting on his jacket.
BRIDE GETTING READY: 20-30 MINUTES
Try to schedule this right before you'll be done with your hair or makeup. It's always great to get some shots of you getting that last spritz of makeup setting spray or your hair stylist doing the finishing touches. Then you can get into your dream dress! Think of who you want to be in the photos as they help you into your dress. It could be your mom, your sister, your maid of honor, or anyone else who is super special in your life.
We love capturing shots of the dress being buttoned, the bride smiling at the person helping her into her dress, and the excitement and anticipation of the day! And if you have time left over from your getting ready photos, that's okay! You'll be able to take a deep breath and relax a little before you walk down the aisle.
BONUS TIP: When choosing your getting ready location, please consider finding a space with lots of natural light and plenty of space to move around. Your photographer can work around these issues to the best of their ability, but they are not a magician! They can't create natural light if you are getting ready in the basement of a church.
FIRST LOOK: 10-15 MINUTES*
Whether you want a first look with your dad, your bridesmaids, or your future spouse, you'll want to think about WHERE you'll take these photos. Your photographer can help you out, but it's something to definitely discuss before your wedding day. Once the location is set, then you should plan for travel time (if there is any) in addition to the 10-15 minutes we recommend to actually do your first look.
KEEP IN MIND: First looks are a staged moment. We have to think of the best way to capture both your reaction and your loved one in the best way possible. There will be a little bit of strategy involved in making sure your first look goes smoothly. But don't worry - We've done this many times before!
BRIDE AND GROOM PORTRAITS: 45-60 MINUTES
If you choose to have a first look with your soon-to-be spouse, then we recommend moving directly into your bride and groom portraits afterwards. If you aren't having a first look, then this time should go in between your ceremony and reception. Not sure about a first look? Ask your photographer for some of the pros and cons!
Bride and groom portraits are a time to get individual shots of the bride, the groom, and then LOTS of photos of you two together. This is one of the few times you'll be alone on your wedding day, so really try to enjoy this time together.
And don't forget... You'll need to add travel time if you want your portraits in a specific location.
WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS: 30-45 MINUTES
Think about all the photos that need to happen during this time. Bridesmaids photos, groomsmen photos, the whole wedding party together, individuals of each bridesmaid and groomsmen with the bride and groom (respectively), and any other combination you can think of! We definitely want to err on the side of having too much time, or else it can feel super rushed.
PRO TIP: Don't forget your bouquets and boutonnieres for these photos!
FORMAL FAMILY PORTRAITS: 3-5 MINUTES PER GROUP
Ah, family photos... One of the most stressful parts of wedding planning! Who should you include in your photos? How much time do you need? Will my second cousin twice removed be mad at me for not including her in these pictures?
We have seen and heard it all. It makes us so sad when our brides and grooms get stressed out about family portraits. Formals usually happen after the ceremony, but you'll want to make sure they are organized in the most efficient way possible. It's so hard for us to give a certain time estimate for family photos because some couples only want immediate family and some couples want to include almost everybody! So that's why our timeline recommendation is 3-5 minutes per photo grouping.
We have so many suggestions and tips for family portraits... Too many to list in this blog! Check out our Formal Family Portrait Tips here. I promise, it'll make your life so much easier!
RECEPTION DETAILS: 20-30 MINUTES
This might be something you don't think of, but in order for us to get the best photos of your reception space, we need 20-30 minutes in your reception venue *before* your guests arrive. Once guests arrive, the tables will have purses on them, the chairs and napkins are moved, drinks could be spilled on the tablecloth... You get the idea!
If this just isn't possible, don't worry! We will just need one table reserved for us so that no one sets their personal items down on the table. Super easy to plan that into your seating chart!
WE HOPE THIS HELPS!
You might be wondering why we haven't talked about reception timeline... That's because this is usually planned out with your DJ or MC. We can always give you an estimate based on what we've seen in the past, but ultimately, they'll have the best idea of how long they usually take in between reception events, like the first dance, cake cutting, toasts, speeches, etc.
Remember, this is just a helpful guide! This might not be what your photography timeline looks like when you finalize it, but it's definitely great to have a starting point.
If you are a Lacey Studios couple, don't forget to schedule your meeting with us so we can help you create a beautiful timeline that you can easily share with your wedding party and family members.
Wishing you the best in your wedding planning experience!