wedding planning

What's a wedding timeline and how do I make one?

What's a wedding timeline and how do I make one?.jpg

I think one of the hardest parts of my wedding planning was figuring out not only when things were going to happen, but how long I should plan for each thing to take. I, like many people getting married, don't plan wedding or partake as a bride in weddings very often and really had no idea where to start. SO now that I am a seasoned professional, I thought it would be a good time to give you a break down. THIS (BTW) is straight from my bridal guide, so you are getting a real insider scoop. ;)

Just as a heads up, this timeline is for a 8 hour day of coverage, from 2:30-10:30 pm. You certainly can have more or less coverage, but this is just an average day at a wedding. 


Bridal Details: 2:30-3:15 pm

Every bride loves having those beautiful shots of her bridal details.  It’s an important part of the story and I love having some time to shoot the dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, etc.  These shots allow me to get warmed up for the rest of the big day.

I normally like to allow at least 45 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! If the groom is getting ready nearby,  My Second Shooter will begin photographing the boys close to 40 minutes before the first look since it always takes them less time to get dressed!  


Bridal Prep: 3:15-3:45 PM


After the details have been photographed, it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! This is a big moment! I usually ask the mother of the bride and all of the bridesmaids to be dressed by the time the bride is ready to get into her dress.

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 I will shoot some additional bridal portraits!


First Look: 4:00-4:15 pm

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! I will make sure the location is private and as secluded as possible.

If you don't know what a first look is, or are on the fence about doing one, check out this article I wrote all about first looks. It just details out all the benefits of doing one, vs. not.  


Portraits: 4:15-4:45 PM

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 excitment 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 exactly on portrait locations until the day-of.   As we shoot these portraits, the bridal party can start making their way to us for Bridal Party portraits.


Bridal Party Portraits: 4:50-5:20 pm

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. (usually happens, totally normal so don't freak out!).  One way to make sure we stay on schedule for bridal party portraits is to have someone put the boutonnieres on the guys BEFORE they arrive for portraits.

During Bridal Party portraits,  I will  make sure to take some great shots of the guys and girls both separately AND together! 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. 


Reception Details: 5:30-5:50 PM

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.

That way I can grab some great shots of your reception before the night begins and guests start laying down purses and coats on their seats! 


Ceremony: 6:00-6:30 PM

It’s time to get married!! Most ceremonies are 30 minutes long.  If your ceremony is longer than 30 mins, we’ll make adjustments to the timeline. 

Cherish these moments! Your ceremony will pass by so quickly.


Family Portraits: 6:40-7:10 PM

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 mintues for family formals and I will send a questionnaire before the wedding where you can list out the shots that you want ( I recommend trying to keep it at around 10 essential images).  I also recommend shooting portraits outdoors if possible so that they resemble more natural family portraits, especially if the ceremony location is dark!


A Few “Just Married” Portraits: 7:15-7:30 PM

7:00pm is the BEST time of day for portraits in the late spring, summer and early fall! This is when the sun is glowy and golden.

I love having a few extra minutes with the bride and groom to take a few “Just Married” portraits right after family formals! 


Reception: 7:30 PM

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!


The Exit: 10:30 PM

My most popular package includes 8 hours of coverage 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! 

Every Wedding is different but generally this is the amount of time I would allow for each section of the day: 






All weddings are flexible in their timelines, so look at this as a guide not a requirement. I hope this was helpful and if you have any questions, reach out! I'm here. :)



What's a "First Look" and why you should do it!

When I first heard about doing a “First Look” from my wedding photographer I knew it was the ideal situation for my wedding day, but I was worried I would be missing out. But I was soooo WRONG! Not only did Eddie and I share a First Look on our wedding day, I encourage all my future brides and grooms to do one as well! First Looks are amazing and SO incredibly helpful to photographers! Here are the top reasons I hear against wanting to do First Looks: 1. Family/ moms expectations 2. The Bride wants that WOW moment to be when she is coming down the aisle and 3. Way too non-traditional.

Well, my answer to brides and grooms that are thinking about doing a first look is:

I love families, buuuuutttt it’s your wedding and you do what you want lady.  

I also understand wanting him to be wowed as you come down the aisle. Understandable, I wanted that too! The thing is, he is still going to be “in awe” of you coming down the aisle no matter what. Eddie still cried his eyes out when I came down the aisle (seriously we even paused the ceremony for me to tell him to breath), even though we had seen each other maybe 20 minutes earlier.  The moment you walk down the aisle is so incredible that it doesn’t lose that feeling if you see each other before hand.  Eddie can attest that even though we saw each other, when I walked down the aisle, it was still the most memorable part of our ceremony.

True, this is a non-traditional concept but here some of my reasons you should consider it:

·      Your guests will not have to wait for you to arrive at your reception for sometimes over an hour! When do portraits after the ceremony, (family, bridal party, romantic portraits and then travel to the reception) that usually takes an hour and a half (yes it takes that long), sometimes longer if the couple wants a ton of awesome portraits of just the two of them! Because this is so time consuming, it often leads to rushed portraits and can cause unnecessary stress for the Bride and Groom because they aren’t enjoying their portraits together, they are worrying about their waiting guests.

·      A first look allows you to have some alone time. When couples decide to see each other for the first time in private, it is an emotional moment that the two of them share and it’s so incredibly intimate. And for me it’s so awesome getting to be there and document it.  This is a time when you get to love on each other, for the groom to tell his bride how beautiful she is. AND as a bonus this moment serves as a once in a lifetime photo opportunity for me. You look amazing and this is a chance for your groom to tell you, versus waiting till after the ceremony.

·      Couples that choose a first look end up with about 40% more portraits than those who do not opt for the First Look. PLUS the bride’s makeup is still intact (sometimes tears from the ceremony can require a makeup touchup and this can take 15 minutes).

·      It calms both of your nerves, but this is especially huge for the groom. Eddie and I talked about it after the fact and he was in full freak out mode until we had our first look. ALL grooms that have experienced a First Look admit that seeing their bride beforehand eases the wedding day shakes and allows them to relax and enjoy the ceremony!

·      Finally, a First Look is the answer to the wedding day timeline crisis!  It creates ample portrait time and allows the bride and groom to celebrate freely. AND you end up with more portraits than couples who don’t opt to do a first look.

Attention all late fall, winter and early spring brides…. you will most likely run out of great light for portraits after your ceremony. A First Look is a great solution for this issue!!

So while it is clear that I love first looks, I never absolutely never pressure my couples into doing them. I always give them the reasons why it’s a smart choice but if they really aren’t interested, OK. It’s their wedding day! It’s my job to make them happy and to help them have a great time and a solid schedule for pictures. It’s your decision, no judgement. I’ll make your day as perfect as possible. I get that it is a BIG decision but I have never had a couple that wasn’t happy that they decided to go for it!