TIMELINE

How to plan your big day

Information to gather & take into consideration

Tips for me and you



MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Calculate driving time in between locations and give yourself a buff more in a big city where you could hit traffic



FIRST LOOK

This will affect a lot of the timeline. Without a first look, you'll want to prioritize more of the coverage after the ceremony. (about 1/4 before, 3/4 after) With a first look, you'll have a little more coverage time before the ceremony. (about ⅕-½ before, ½⅔ after)

With a first look, you can take some couple portraits, wedding party, and sometimes even family photos before the ceremony.

Without a first look, you'll go straight from getting ready photos to ceremony, and then need to have a slightly longer cocktail hour and portrait time after the ceremony. Your cocktail hour will need to allow for wedding party, family, and couple photos. Consider sneaking away at sunset to get more photos of the couple since cramming it all into cocktail hour can be tough.



GUEST COUNT

If the guest count is super small, everything seems to move quicker. Give yourself a little more of a cushion if there is a huge guest list.



WEDDING PARTY COUNT

If the wedding is super small, everything seems to move quicker. Give yourself a little more of a cushion for getting ready photos, ceremony, wedding party photos, grand entrance, and toasts if there is a large wedding party.



FAMILY COUNT

If the family is super small, everything seems to move quicker. Consider giving yourself a little more of a cushion for getting ready photos, ceremony, and especially family photos, if the couple has a very large family (especially if a lot of the family is involved in the above)



CEREMONY TIME

If they have a ceremony time, start with that in your timeline. If they don't start with sunset and determine their ceremony time based off sunset.



SUNSET TIME

Starting with sunset? Typically it works well to set the ceremony time two hours before sunset.



GRAND EXIT?

If they're having a grand exit that they want photographed, make sure your coverage time allows you to be there until the exit. If not, consider starting coverage a little later, ask if they want to extend coverage time, or do a "mock exit" (like do a tunnel with sparklers on the dance floor leading them to the cake cut or something so you don't have to stay until the end of the night but can still get those iconic sparkler photos)



HOURS OF COVERAGE

Typically im shooting for 6-8 hours. If im shooting for shorter time (which i only recommend for smaller weddings), I will squeeze everything a little closer, and not be there for as much of getting ready or dancing.


If im shooting longer, i'll cushion everything a bit more and be there for more of getting ready and dancing photos



Here are a few timelines example for you.

SAMPLE Timeline #1






8 hours coverage - with a first look



2.30 photographers arrive / getting ready photos

3.00 get dressed

3:15 (optional) first look with family or wedding party

3.30 first look / couple portraits

4.00 wedding party photos

4.30 family photos

5.00 pre ceremony break / shoot details / guests arriving

5.30 ceremony

6.00 ceremony ends / cocktail hour begins / sign marriage license

6:15 couple portraits

6:45 grand entrance

6:50 first dance

6.55 special dances

7.00 sunset

7.05 dinner

8.00 toasts

8:30 cake cut

8:40 dancing

10:30 grand exit / photo coverage ends

sample Timeline #2






8 hours coverage - No first look



3:00 photographers arrive / getting ready photos

3:30 get dressed

3.45 (optional) first look with family or wedding party

4.00 pre ceremony break / shoot details / guests arriving

4.30 ceremony

5.00 ceremony ends / cocktail hour begins

5:00 family photos

5.30 wedding party photos

6.00 couple portraits

6:45 grand entrance

6:50 first dance

6.55 special dances

7.00 sunset

7.05 dinner

8.00 toasts

8:30 cake cut

8:40 dancing

10:00 grand exit / photo coverage ends

sample Timeline #3






6 hours coverage - with a first look



3:30 photographers arrive / getting ready photos

3.45 get dressed

4.00 first look / couple portraits

4:30 wedding party photos

4.50 family photos

5.10 pre ceremony break / shoot details / guests arriving

5.30 ceremony

6.00 ceremony ends / cocktail hour begins / sign marriage licence

6:15 couple portraits

6:45 grand entrance

6:50 first dance

6.55 special dances

7.00 sunset

7.05 dinner

8.00 toasts

8:30 cake cut

8.40 dancing

9.30 grand exit / photo coverage ends


sample Timeline #4






6 hours coverage - No first look



3:30 photographers arrive / getting ready photos

4:00 get dressed

4:15 pre ceremony break / shoot details / guests arriving

4:30 ceremony

5:00 ceremony ends / cocktail hour begins

5:00 family photos

5:30 wedding party photos

6:00 couple portraits

6:45 grand entrance

6:50 first dance

6:55 special dances

7:00 sunset

7:05 dinner

8:00 toasts

8:30 cake cut

8:40 dancing

9:30 grand exit / photo coverage ends


LET ME BREAK IT DOWN


  • If you're starting from scratch, start with the sunset time.
  •  Then add the ceremony time about two hours before that. Then work backwards from the ceremony time.
  •  Give yourself a pre-ceremomy break (time for wedding party to hide, photographers to grab some water, check their batteries, get set up, shoot decor, etc.)
  • Factor in any driving time If you have to change locations
  •  Figure out If they're having a first look or not, and then reference sample timelines for order of events before the ceremony.
  • Give yourself about 30 minutes for most events. (Maybe a little more if the wedding is big and their coverage time allows, maybe a little less if the wedding is small and/or they have less coverage time.)
  •  Then work down after the ceremony.
  •  Add in all the elements of their reception that you've gathered from their pre-wedding questionnaire
  •  Decide if you want to sneak away for sunset photos (I usually do this if they don't have a lot of time for portraits earlier in the day or if their photos fall during a really bright time of the day. We usually sneak away as guests are eating - but make sure you let your clients grab a bite before stealing them!)
  • Decide if they need grand exit coverage (or if they want to do a mock exit earlier)
  •  Then make sure your start to end time matches your booked coverage time!


You got this!