One of the most stressful parts of wedding planning is the timeline. It’s not really tons of fun figuring out a set schedule when you just want to have, but it is the most crucial factor in making sure you have a stress free wedding day. We know not all weddings are the same, but this should be a good guide to get you started!
This ideal timeline is based on a wedding day that is in the summer has a 6 pm ceremony time and a first look. If your wedding is in the fall, you’d want to move the ceremony up to at least 4 pm and adjust the rest of the day accordingly.
This is the best way for us to start the day. Every bride loves having those beautiful photos of all her jewelry, shoes, and dress. They’re an important part of the story and we love having time to shoot these details. It also allows us time to get all warmed up for the day. Normally, we allow 45 minutes for this part of the day. While Adrienne is shooting the details, Dani will be shooting some photos of you and your bridesmaids while you prepare for the day. If the boys are nearby, Dani will also begin photographing them ~40 minutes before the first looks as it usually takes them a lot less time to get ready.
This is one of the most emotional parts of the day! You may think we’re crazy allowing 30 minutes to put the dress on, but trust us, you’ll need it! Most wedding dresses either have a lace-up or button up back and that can take longer than you think to do up. If your dress just has a zipper and it only takes a few minutes to get into, then allowing for 30 minutes gives you some extra time to relax and who doesn’t love that!
The first look is one of our favorite parts of the day! Usually, it’s the only chance that you and your soon-to-be husband have to be alone and share an intimate moment away from your guests during your whole day. We’ll choose a private, secluded space for your first look so you don’t have to worry about that at all.
After the first look, we’ll begin taking some romantic portraits while all of your excitement is still fresh! While we’re doing these portraits, the rest of the bridal party should start making their way to us.
After a few portraits of you and your honey, we’ll move right into bridal party portraits. To make sure we can make the most of our time, make sure all the guys have their boutonnieres on before we start photos and make sure all the ladies have their bouquets. During bridal party portraits, we always like to take photos of the guys and girls separately and together and if we have time we also love to take individual photos of each member of the bridal party with the happy couple!
This part of the day may not be necessary…wait who am I kidding?! Yes, it is! We love to allow time for our couples to just take a few minutes before the ceremony to have some time just to relax and breathe. It also means that early guests won’t get a peek at you in your dress until it’s time for the big reveal! This time also gives you a little wiggle room in your timeline just in case things earlier in the day, run a little late.
While you and your soon-to-be hubby are hidden away, we’ll be busy snapping away and capturing all the details of your reception and ceremony site. We also take this time to set up all the lighting gear we’ll need for your reception. For those last ten minutes before your ceremony, we’ll be preparing for the main event and getting a few shots of guests eagerly awaiting your arrival.
It’s time to get hitched! Most ceremonies are only about half an hour-long, sometimes even shorter (if your ceremony is longer than that we can make adjustments to the timeline as needed). During this time, you have nothing to worry about. Just relax and enjoy yourself!
After your ceremony, and some congratulations from your guests, we’ll move right into family portraits. It’s easiest to do the family portraits after the ceremony because everyone is already in the same place and we don’t have to go hunt anyone down. By now, we’ve already received our Wedding Day Questionnaire back from you and we know exactly which family portraits are most important to you. We also like to keep groupings for these portraits limited to just immediate family only and do photos with extended family or friends during the reception.
In the photo on the top, we had to do a panoramic picture to make sure that we got everyone in the photo. Now there’s nothing wrong with having a large family photo like this (and we totally won’t say no if you ask for one), but it’s more fun to have individual photos with your family. It feels more intimate and special that way. Plus it fits in your frames better!
For weddings in the late spring, summer, and early fall we love to have time for a few “just married” photos when the sun is low in the sky and provides that dreamy, glowy light!
Sometime during this time, the bridal party will get lined up and introductions will begin and it’s time to party! Once the reception starts, we don’t have to be as strict with our timeline. Once the sun sets, we’re pretty much done with portraits and we just go with the flow of events. Your DJ should be able to give you the best recommendations for the best reception timeline to endure your guests have the best time.
For our Wedding Experience to be complete, we recommend 8 hours of photography to capture all the important moments of the day. This will also ensure we capture all the main events of the reception and approximately an hour of dancing. If you plan on partying away into the night well after 10:30 pm we can always do a fake exit. If that is something that you might be interested in, just let us know!
The most important advice we can give you about planning your wedding day timeline is this: Something will most likely go wrong. I know that sounds super ominous and bad, but hear me out! Out of all the many weddings we’ve done over the years, not one has gone exactly like planned. Whether hair and makeup take a bit longer, the florist is running late, or the caterer just plain forgets to deliver your food (all of which has happened at weddings we’ve shot before), something will happen that makes the timeline run a little behind. That’s why we recommend a timeline similar to this one. It allows for bumps in the day or mishaps that may occur and still allows us to capture all the beautiful portraits and happy moments you deserve!
We're Adrienne & Dani, a wedding photography team based in Sacramento, California that specializes in weddings and engagements. We hope you grab some coffee (or a cup of tea if you're like us!) and enjoy viewing our latest work, reading about tips for your wedding day, and getting a little peek behind the scenes!