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  • Writer's pictureJohn Soulé, Admin

The Wedding Timeline

Updated: Sep 26, 2018

From the moment you become engaged, the clock starts ticking on your Wedding Timeline. And, the more you are involved with developing the timeline for your wedding, the better are your chances of being prepared for the unplanned events that may occur.

At first, there is selecting the date, booking the venue, selecting each of the vendors - the photographer(s), DJ, caterers, florists, and so on. But the closer you get to your Special Day, the more you may start to realize that there is much more to address in your planning process.

Time is precious and can be to your advantage or disadvantage on your Special Day. One of our goals as your photographer is to create a Timeline framework for various key events and help you plan ahead as your Special Day approaches. Someone once asked me what I would want as my "super power" if I were a Super Hero. That was simple - "to control time". But since I cannot - I can at least make the best use of it through planning. Here are some ideas for your consideration:

Share Your Vision

As photographers, from the moment we are asked to preserve your Special Day, we start working on a Timeline tailored just for you. The more we know about your vision for our services, the better we are able to provide guidance that you may find quite helpful and touch on ideas and concerns that you may have not considered. Share your ideas, your vision, of what you would like for your Special Day and what photographs would be most cherished. Do you want artistic work or just candid photography - or both? The more artistic work will need to be planed for and will take a little extra time - but it can be well worth it.

The Basics

In the beginning, we draft an overview of the Timeline which we divide into four sections (possibly five): Pre-Ceremony, Ceremony, Post Ceremony (Posed shots during the Reception) and Reception. The fifth section would be the "First Look" if that is being included. We then address the "fixed" times - such as the scheduled time for the Ceremony and then the Introduction of the Bride and Groom at the Reception. All other events must fit into a schedule to ensure the "fixed" times are met. From those times, we work backwards to the start of our day. This can be a huge help in determining when the hairstylist makeup artist should be scheduled. The more time allowed for will mean more time for creative photography and less pressure overall.

Pre Ceremony - Getting Ready

It is always important to allow for unexpected delays such as if a wedding party member runs late. Often brides find themselves being in a situation to not only be ready themselves - but that their bridal party is ready as well. And, as photographers we will need time to stage special poses, reposition furniture, position mirrors, adjust lighting and so on to be creative. All these details take time - which is why we dedicate at least one photographer for the bride and one for the groom (plus an assistant) to help us best use the time we have while everyone is getting ready. And, no one likes to feel rushed.

First Look (if applicable)

The First Look is a special and private moment that the Bride and Groom can share. (See First Look - Breaking Tradition). But to make this as private as possible, you must either choice a location removed from arriving guests or plan for a time early enough when guests will have not arrived. Often, brides choice the later. As such, it is important to allow enough time to have the First Look and share a few moments to enjoy your "alone time" before guests arrive. (Typically one hour before the ceremony allows time for a few creative photographs and still allows for the bride to back into hiding).


The Ceremony is one of the few fixed time slots that is out of everyone's control. Generally the start time is well established. And, no one wants their family and friends to arrive just to wait and wait for the Ceremony to begin based on poor planning.

We have one photographer capture images of the bride at the back of the aisle as another photographer covers the Groom from the front. In terms of the Timeline - we have this covered very well. That is unless at the last minute the Bride decides to have a receiving line for over one hundred guests. Can you imagine how much that would cut into the day's planning? And what generally follows the Ceremony is Cocktail Hour and the posed photograph sessions of the Bride and Groom.

Travel Time to Different Venues

Whether it is traveling from a hotel where makeup/hair is being done to a special bridal salon for dressing, or traveling to a different venue for the Ceremony or Reception, travel time must be considered in terms of both distance and potential traffic tie-ups. And, if time is needed to be recovered due to unexpected delays - it is the photographer's allowed time that gets crushed. Plan at least one dry run when multiple venues are being considered and add that time to day's starting time. Be sure to review the traffic at the same time of day that best matches the actual event.

Post Ceremony Photographs

Traditionally, posed photographs of the Bride and Groom , without and without the Wedding Party, are taken during the Cocktail Hour. You should allow a full hour for post wedding photography as our photographers will stage you in various poses rather than take candid shots. The Bride and Groom may also want to take advantage of several different locations within the venue - it addition to setup, it takes to walk to each location. And, if we are shooting for a sunset shot - that must be planned well in advance as well.

It is important to also allow time for the photographers to get into position for the Bride and Groom's introduction at the Reception. Often the Wedding Planner will line up the Bridal Party for the introductions while our photographers are getting into position. This all takes up time.

The Reception

In order to be prepared for each event during the Reception such as Introductions, First Dance, Toasts, Cake Cutting, Bouquet Toss, Garter Belt Toss, etc., our photographers will need to know WHEN these events will take place and WHERE they will take place. We work with both the Wedding Planner and DJ to coordinate efforts to ensure the timing is agreed to and there is a smooth flow to the event. We have found that the timing may vary from wedding to wedding and nothing is set in stone.

Putting it all together

From the moment we meet to discuss your vision for your Special Day, our Timeline is being drafted. And, as a living document, the Timeline gets revisited on a regular basis to ensure everyone is on the same page - including the Wedding Planer. We also conduct a dry run either at the rehearsal or by ourselves at least one week before the Wedding to determine if anything in the planning stages may have changed that could have an impact on the Timeline. We also know where the sun will be and when it will be setting to help guide locations for photogenic settings.

We pride ourselves on being very detail oriented. We help plan a structure for our photographic services designed to meet your vision - and add in various contingency plans as needed - just in case. When it comes to your Special Day, we want you to be sure that we have you covered in every way we possibly can though planning and structure.

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