How to Create A Wedding Timeline Schedule
“one of the most helpful things
Sandra did for us was take charge of the schedule.
She’s like a magician with time,
she fit in everything we wanted”
~~Heather & Neal
There are so many things to consider when setting up your timeline and if you are a couple getting married for the first time, you may find yourself questioning how much time do I really need for photos, dinner, speeches and more?
Do I want a morning, afternoon or evening ceremony, how will that effect the time my photographer needs for our formal pictures? You’ve decided on an evening ceremony…did you give your photographer the time needed for formals before that sun sets? All of a sudden you may find yourself looking at a first look situation because the sun is setting too fast after your evening ceremony and formal images will have to be done beforehand.
Have you decided on more than one location for your wedding day? Commute times matter! Your ceremony and reception are at different locations and then you need to travel to third location for your formals-you need to think about your commute times. Most photographers offer a set amount of time and that time is usually continuous. The more different places you choose the more commute time, the more time taken away for pictures on your wedding day.
Are the bride and groom getting ready at different locations…again commute time is important especially if you are dealing with a photographer who doesn’t have a second photographer to work with.
Every timeline will be different depending on the wedding and client preferences. Some clients want a first look and formals prior to the ceremony, especially if they are having a late night ceremony. Some grooms are more traditional and want that first look to be their bride walking down the aisle. Some couples aren’t in to the more traditional receiving line after a wedding ceremony where all your guests line up to congratulate you. Some couples need more time for formal photos, some couples prefer to have a more candid relaxed formals session. Some couples have one hour ceremonies while others have short 20 minute ceremonies.
There are so many things to consider in planning for your big day, if you have a great photographer they will help guide you through the planning of your day from beginning to end to make sure you get everything you need and not a moment is missed.
I always approach a couple’s wedding starting with the ceremony and dinner as those are usually set in stone and work your timeline around those two things. By discussing what images are most important to a couple, images they can not do without, a timeline will start to emerge. Below are some things to consider during every portion of your wedding day.
1. Still Imagery – do you want pictures of your gown, veil, shoes, flowers, rings, invitations etc, do you want these images for the groom as well? Allow your photographer 1 hour for these images for the bride and 15 min for the groom. If you can have all of your items in one place ready for your photographer it will allow better use of their time.
2. Getting Ready – for guys allow atleast 1 hour, for the girls between hair and makeup-I ask my brides to talk with their makeup/hair stylists to find out what they need, my next question is always how many of you are they dealing with? If they are dealing with 4-5 girls plus the bride you’re going to need 2-3 hours, then girls getting into gowns and the bride getting into hers…a total time of 3-4 hours will be needed for everything. If there ever is a crunch time during a wedding it’s during this timeframe. I always work with a second photographer because honestly it’s very hard for one photographer to fit both bride and groom getting ready in 5 hours if that photographer has to go to both by themselves. Usually my second photographer leaves the bride and myself at the 3rd hour mark to cover the groom.
Girls going to a salon before getting into gowns, remember those commute times should be over and above that 3-4 hour timeframe mentioned above.
3. First Look – you’ve decided on an evening wedding and a first look prior to your formals session…allow 20-30 minutes for this first look.
4. Ceremony time-mid morning, mid afternoon or evening. Ceremony length – 20 minutes to 1 hour are the norm.
5. Do you want Ceremony stills – images of all the ceremony details and guests arriving? Add 30 minutes for your photographer.
6. Do you want a receiving line…what is a receiving line? The wedding party, bride and groom line up and all the guests walk through the line shaking hands and congratulating the newly married couple. The time needed for this will depend largely on how many guests will be at the ceremony. 150-200 guests I allow 45 minutes. If a couple decides they don’t want this then I put in a 20 minutes buffer because the bride and groom are never able to get away immediately, guests will always stop them on the way out the door.
7. Cocktail Hour – 1 hour…will you be having a cocktail hour for your guests while you have your formal session? Do you want a photographer to cover this? If so you need a second photographer.
8. Formals Session – your photographer will usually tell you what they require. For my clients, 2 hours is mandatory, that time frame may decrease depending on their formals list. Usually I can shoot 25 images per hour as a guideline, so if you have large families and you are close to the 50 image mark on the formals list we create together, you will need that 2 hours for photos. Do you want your images done at sunset?
9. Reception Entrance – allow 15 minutes
10. Dinner – when you have your ceremony and dinner will dictate when you have your formals session. I tell clients to allow for at minimum 1.5 hours if they have atleast 5 speakers for both dinner and speeches together.
11. Do you want reception stills? Images of all the reception details you’ve paid hard earned money for? Add 30 minutes for your photographer preferably before your guests descend on the area.
12. Cutting the Cake – 15-20 minutes
13. First Dance – 5 minutes
14. Parent Dances – are you having father/daughter and mother/son dances at the same time or separately? Add 5-10 minutes.
15. Bouquet/Garter Toss – add 15-30 minutes, sometimes it takes a bit of time to assemble all the girls and all the guys.
16. Games – add 20-30 minutes depending on the game and how many you are having.
Click on this link to download a PDF of this post with schedule samples to help you create your own wedding timeline schedule. The samples are schedules I’ve helped my brides to create for their own wedding day.
I hope I’ve enlightened you and helped you to create a truly great timeline schedule for your wedding day that enables you to get every possible detail caught on camera or video.
Congratulations and best wishes on your upcoming wedding!!! If you don’t have a photographer/vidoeographer I would LOVE to chat…memories are priceless!
Life’s priceless moments happen but once, it is my goal to create artwork for your family heirlooms that will last forever. Priceless are the moments in your life, capturing those moments for a lifetime is my passion. The wedding photography artwork I produce for clients will keep those memories alive for generations to come. The utmost care is taken with every image, retouching, color correction, and many enhancements to make your images stand out on the walls of your home. Your memories are truly priceless!
Sandra Adamson Studios is a Halifax, Nova Scotia based Wedding Photographer, who offers fine artwork wedding photography services to the Halifax Nova Scotia metro area. www.sandraadamson.com.