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Creating the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

Making the perfect timeline for your wedding day is tough. There’s a unique balance to find where you’re not only working with several different vendors who all have their own process and timeline for the day, but you also have your guests to worry about!

So, where do you even start?

The easiest place, is with your vendors. Specifically, your officiant and your reception venue coordinator (or catering company if they are not from the venue).

Getting details from those vendors will help set the key points (and least flexible times) of the day:

– Ceremony Start Time
– Dinner Service Start Time

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Next, touch base with your photographer!

This is important because every photographer has their own way of doing things, and they will be able to let you know how much time they actually need to get those photos that mean so much to you!

For example, let’s say that in 20 years from now, you dream of looking back at your wedding photos and seeing gorgeous portraits of your wedding party, and of you and your husband/wife. In order to get those photos, you may want to leave a bit more time in between your ceremony and dinner service. Leaving only an hour in between with 20 minutes of travel between locations would mean that there is only a total of 40 minutes to photograph your family photos, wedding party photos, and bride & groom portraits!

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Like I mentioned above, every photographer has their own way of doing things, and your photographer should be able to give you an idea of, a) how much time they need to capture those important moments of the day, and b) what moments of the day can be captured within the hours included in your package. Here’s an idea of the time breakdowns that I typically recommend to my clients:

45 Minutes – Groom “Getting Ready”
1 Hour – Bride “Getting Ready”
20 Minutes – Ceremony Prep (details & candids)
30 Minutes – Ceremony
30 Minutes – Receiving Line
30 Minutes – Family Photos
30 Minutes – Wedding Party Photos
45 Minutes – Bride & Groom Portraits
20 Minutes – Reception Prep (details & candids)
5 Minutes – Grand Entrance
15 Minutes – First & Parent Dances
10 Minutes – Night Photo

Other things to keep in mind:

– Travel time between locations
– Washroom breaks
– Eating and drinking (it seems silly to add this into your timeline, but with the chaos of the day it is so easy to forget! It is not unheard of for a bride or groom to faint at the altar because they forgot to eat on the day of their wedding, and it almost happened during a ceremony I was photographing!)

Take a look at these weddings to compare a six hour and eight hour wedding day!

*Sarah & Blaine’s Rustic Backyard Wedding
*Sarah & Aaron’s Wedding at Forest City National

As a photographer, I’m not doing my job if I’m not able to capture those moments that mean the most to you! So working with my clients on their timeline always takes top priority :)

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