- Shauna Schneeman
A Sample Wedding Timeline
I realized that my last blog said "this was the most important thing" and it was regarding mind set. It IS the most important thing. However, a close second is.. the TIMELINE! I know this isn’t the most exciting aspect of the wedding day, but this is the one thing that can make or break your photography and your wedding day! This blog will outline an ideal wedding day working off of a 6 pm ceremony time frame. I was so excited to send this to my current brides that are planning. This can be the most confusing part of planning. This ideal timeline example is based off of a wedding day that includes a first look. 90% of my couples choose to do a first look and you can read more about that option on my blog here! All wedding days are different and every couple has different priorities. I always allow my couples an extra consult at any time during their planning to help them this aspect. I want my brides to have a smooth, relaxing wedding day and all the photos you want! Also if their day is going well, then so is mine!
Remember Tip #1 here. Things will happen that are not planned. Things will take longer than you expect. You have a bunch of people and personalities that are going to change how the day goes. You might have inclement weather conditions, someone may have car troubles, someone may end up sick. You cannot plan for everything, but you can try to make openings in your day for mishaps and you can set your expectations and aspect to mentally prepare for that. (Refer to planning blog #1 for that!)
Photo over here has nothing to do with planning. However, obviously the father of the bride losing his pants was not apart of the plan for Sarah's day at Eagle Manor. Sarah was the epitome of what a bride's expectations should be set at. She had the "Goal" in mind. Every thing that happened on her day she took with such grace. She had a mid-covid wedding that her venue's contract would not allow her to reschedule or cancel without paying the amount owed IN FULL. She had to change her plans to stay at that venue while needing to make a bunch of large purchases to accommodate the covid guidelines. Then there was a tropical storm sweeping through the area! When I tell you everything was working against her, and she remained in the same calm and happy demeanor that you see in this photo when faced with every single things that was happening. Her day ended up being perfect, funny, and joyous! Her and her husband are now enjoying a second baby girl and are happy and thriving despite all of those wedding obstacles.
So, let's get into the timeline! This is based on a 6pm Ceremony. Also remember every wedding is different this is just a reference!
2:00 - Photographer Arrives, time for Bridal Details shots & Hair/Make up photos!
Every bride loves having those beautiful shots of her bridal details. It’s an important part of the story. I love having some time to shoot the dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, etc. I normally like to allow at least 30 minutes for this part of the day. While I’m shooting details, I’m also capturing some shots of the bride and her girls getting ready! Photographer Arrival is set based on when the bride will have hair and make up done. No one wants photos of their wedding without hair and make up! So I grab those shots while the professionals are finishing up.
2:00 - Bridal Prep
After the details have been photographed, it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! This is a big moment! The person getting you into your dress and anyone witnessing or helping should be getting dressed while details are being photographed so we can transition to this part easily. This ensures that everyone will look nice in those images. After the bride is in her gown, she can put on her jewelry, veil, shoes, etc. and then we should allow time for some pretty shots of the bride by a window before the first look!
2:30 - Groom Prep
If groom is at the same location I can get in there to get some groom prep before the first look. Typically I will pop in to see the groom for 15 minutes for some mock shots of him getting dressed. Then we head out to the first look location. If time is an issue we will get individuals of him at the first look.
2:45 - First Look
This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day! I will find the perfect location for my couple’s First Look prior to the getting ready portion of the day! Don’t stress about that one bit! We will ensure it is just the two of you so you can really treasure this moment. I will guide you on how this plays out, but once the groom gets a look I won't say a thing until you tell me you both have enjoyed the moment and are ready to move on to the next step of your day!
4:15 - Portraits
After the bride and groom take their time with the First Look, I will begin taking a few romantic portraits of the two of them while the initial excitement is still present! I will find the locations for these shots as well! Remember, the LIGHT determines where we shoot and so I can’t decide on portrait locations until the day-of. Of course I want the prettiest spots, but sometimes those spots won't take the prettiest photos. Ideally we can take more photos later, but it is really your decision as to what your priorities are for your day. I will never force more photos, but I will give you honest opinions and lots of options!
4:50 - Bridal Party Portraits
Now it’s time for Bridal Party shots! I buffer in extra time throughout the day just in case we have some unexpected things that hold us up! We will run through your shot list to get all the shots you want with your favorite people!
5:30 - Bride in Hiding
After bridal party portraits are complete, the bride will go into hiding so that early guests don’t sneak a peek and the ushers will begin their duties. This is a great time to grab some water, use the bathroom, look at your vows again, use some hair spray, or simply relax and soak in the moments before your ceremony!
5:30 - Reception Details
If the reception is in the same location as the ceremony, I will use this time to shoot the reception decor UNTOUCHED. If the ceremony and reception are in different locations, I recommend having a cocktail hour outside of the main reception area if possible so that I can grab some great shots of your reception before the night begins and guests start laying down purses and coats on their seats or start picking up seating cards!
6:00 - Ceremony
A Typical ceremony is 30 minutes, but if your doing a catholic ceremony we will just make adjustments to the timeline! Cherish these moments! Your ceremony will pass by so quickly! If you need ceremony help be on the look out for the ceremony guide!
6:30 - Family Portraits
Family formals normally take place immediately following the ceremony. It’s best to save all of the family formals until after the ceremony because ALL family members will be present at that time. We’ll need about 30 minutes for family formals and I will send a questionnaire before the wedding where you can list out the shots that you want. I recommend shooting portraits outdoors if possible so that they resemble more natural family portraits, especially if the ceremony location is dark!
7:30 - Reception Time
This is when the bridal party lines up for introductions and the party begins!! By this part of the day, my timeline isn’t as strict. I work off of the natural light and so after the sun is set, my portrait time is over and I begin focusing on the reception events! Your DJ and venue will run this show, but I will get your goal times so I can also ensure everything is going nice and smooth! Tell your guests I am always happy to be pulled aside to take their photos! Don't be afraid to ask, it is my job!
Optional Specialty/Exit Shots
My coverage times are set so that I can be present for the main events of the reception and about an hour of dancing! If you’re interested in having your exit photographed, there are several options for this! You can either add additional coverage or plan a faux exit with just your bridal party! I have had GREAT success with this and the party never stops! The exit above was actually right after dinner, the party all went right back in and kept on dancing!