June 16, 2019
I wanted to write a post on wedding timelines because I know this is something everyone struggles on. When do you have your ceremony? How long do family formals take? We want to be able to stop at bars in between but don’t want to cut into portrait time. These are all possible questions and scenarios that happen when planning a wedding timeline.
Although having a good timeline is the cheapest AND easiest way to have a photogenic wedding, it seems to be the last detail that is planned. I wanted to make it easy for everyone and give examples of how you should be planning your big day from a photographer’s perspective.
All the timelines are going to be based off of a 10 hour timeline because in my opinion, that is the perfect amount of time you should be booking your photographer.
1. (First Look)
2. (No First Look)
3. (Later Dinner)
Keep in mind that these do also depend on the season and when sunset is! For example, if you are having a winter wedding I HIGHLY recommend taking advantage of a first look. This will ensure that you don’t lose ANY daylight because that’s the first thing to happen and there’s no chance of it getting pushed back enough to sunset.
This is an example of a timeline I made for my best friend’s wedding. She’s getting married on New Year’s Eve, so that means the sun will be completely set by 5:00pm.
Winter Wedding Example:
The key to stay on track is also to keep your family formal list to a minimum. Personally, I am SUPER close to my extended family. Yes, it’s nice to get a portrait of each and every person individually, but trust me when I tell you this cuts a huge chunk out of your timeline. Not having the extended family there for family formals doesn’t mean you can’t get a group photo later! I have had multiple weddings where we catch everyone at the reception to grab a quick group photo. It’s an added bonus when the DJ can make an announcement for everyone.
Below is the perfect example of what your family formal list should look like. It’s not missing any staple combinations, but it is also great for time purposes. These portraits are truly a chance for you to say thank you to the people who have raised you and been there for you and your groom through the entire planning process!
Example Family Formal List:
I would not recommend going any further in family because this list will easily take 30 mins. I tell all of my couples, family formals are the most stressful part of the day. There’s always a family member that is MIA and everyone starts yelling at dad for not staying close. It really gets you out of the “I just got married” feeling quickly. For that reason, I recommend first looks. It’s the most genuine flow to a wedding day. You get to remain in that “I can’t wait to marry you” feeling for portraits. From experience, I know that portraits after a first look are more comfortable and genuine because there’s nothing that’s breaking that feeling between you and your groom. Not only does it allow for more genuine looking photos, it also allows for more portraits! Who doesn’t want more photos?!
For some reason, many brides are against the idea of a first look. Most of the time, it’s because the bride thinks she won’t get a reaction from her groom unless she’s walking down the aisle. Trust me, that is the furthest thing from the truth. Honestly, if you opt into having a first look, you will most likely have two separate reactions.
The reason that I say this is because both scenarios your groom will be experiencing different emotions. On one hand, he will be so excited to see you. The first look is giving you the chance to express your emotions without everyone staring at you. On the other, he will be thinking to himself “holy crap that’s about to be my wife.” I don’t know about you, but I know that my boyfriend would definitely be more likely to express his emotions if it’s just him and I. There’s NO way he’s crying when everyone is staring at him! *Extra Bonus* is that after a first look you have time to fix your makeup 😉
In conclusion, no matter the time you ceremony starts I would recommend giving a 2 1/2 – 3 hour time span for portraits. This includes travel time, family formal time, and wiggle room for even the drunkest wedding party. Every wedding is different. If you have questions about your timeline specifically, ask your photographer! You have no idea how much we appreciate helping in the planning process, especially if it works in our favor!