categories

xo

Where you can find my recent work and wedding tips/advice

welcome to the blog

Sample Wedding Day Timelines

Tips and Advice

Ah, the timeline of your wedding day. Once you have the date set and a venue on lock, the photographer is typically the next vendor you book. But with so many offering collections or hourly wedding day coverage, it’s easy to get confused. How many hours should you book your photographer? I have some sample wedding day timelines to share ahead!

In this blog post, I’ll go into detail about how to guesstimate the coverage you need for your wedding day. And since it’s my blog and I can do what I want, I’ll explain the differences between six, eight, and ten hours of coverage – which is exactly what I offer my couples.

REALLY THINK ABOUT YOUR WEDDING PLANS

Sounds easy, yeah? Just think about it!

Not so much. It’s going to take a little work! Take a look at your Pinterest boards. Scroll through that inspo album on your iPhone. Are you seeing lots of sparkler exit photos? More photos of the wedding party? Lots of portraits in multiple locations? Not so many dancing shots? Take note about what you’ve already considered was “important” and start there!

Some other things to consider:

  • Do you have a larger wedding party? Or just one MOH/Best Man/Man of Honor, etc?
  • Are photos of you without your hair/makeup done really going to end up in your wedding album? Will those images be something you cherish twenty years from now?
  • Are you thinking about doing a first look? Or would you rather wait to see your partner at the ceremony?
  • Do you have a lot of family attending? Do you want formal shots of everyone?
  • Now what about the reception – will there be an Hora Loca near the end? A sparkler or champagne exit? Did you hire a helicopter to whisk you away at the end of the night?
If you have surprises planned for the late-crowd, make sure your photographer is there to photograph it!

HOURLY COVERAGE

So now that you have a good idea on what kind of wedding photos are important to you, let’s take a look at some of the typical hourly coverage options from wedding photographers:

SIX HOURS COVERAGE

Six hours is just enough for most smaller, intimate weddings and elopements that occur at one location. Most couples that choose this base collection decide to skip the “getting ready” photos and have me start right before the ceremony.

A six hour wedding day timeline may look like this:

  • Photographer photographs ceremony details and guests arriving (15-30 minutes before ceremony)
  • Wedding Ceremony (30 minutes)
  • Family Formals (20-30 minutes depending on groupings)
  • Wedding Party Photos (15-20 minutes)
  • Romantic Portraits of the Couple (30 minutes)
  • Guests seated for reception/dinner (10 minutes)
  • Introductions
  • First Dance (5 minutes)
  • Parent Dances (5-10 minutes)
  • Toasts/Speeches (15-20 minutes)
  • Dinner (45 min – One Hour)
  • Reception (including cake cutting, other formalities, 2 Hours)
With just six hours of coverage, you may be missing out on detail shots like this.

EIGHT HOURS COVERAGE

It may seem trivial, but those two hours can make a huge difference! This is the amount of coverage most couples contract me for at booking. It’s right in the middle of my hourly offerings, but still gives flexibility as the timeline comes together in the months before the wedding.

A typical eight hour wedding day timeline with a first look may look like this:

  • Photographer arrives as hair and makeup is finishing up and photographs details (30 minutes)
  • Photographer pops over to Partner B’s room to photograph their prep (15-20 minutes)
  • Final touches for Partner A (wedding gown and jewelry, etc) (45 minutes)
  • First Look and Romantic Portraits (45 min – One Hour)
  • Photographer photographs ceremony details and guests arriving (15 minutes before ceremony)
  • Wedding Ceremony (30 minutes)
  • Family Formals (20-30 minutes depending on groupings)
  • Wedding Party Photos (15-20 minutes)
  • Photographs of the reception space before guests are invited in (20-30 minutes)
  • Guests seated for reception/dinner (10 minutes)
  • Introductions
  • First Dance (5 minutes)
  • Parent Dances (5-10 minutes)
  • Toasts/Speeches (15-20 minutes)
  • Dinner (45 min-One Hour)
  • Reception (including cake cutting, other formalities, 2ish Hours)

No first look? No problem! Now you have an eight hour timeline that looks a little like this:

  • Photographer arrives as hair and makeup is finishing up and photographs details (30 minutes)
  • Photographer pops over to Partner B’s room to photograph their prep (15-20 minutes)
  • Final touches for Partner A (wedding gown and jewelry, etc) (45 minutes)
  • Photographer photographs ceremony details and guests arriving (15 minutes before ceremony)
  • Wedding Ceremony (30 minutes)
  • Family Formals (20-30 minutes depending on groupings)
  • Wedding Party Photos (15-20 minutes)
  • Romantic Portraits of the Couple (45 min)
  • Photographs of the reception space before guests are invited in (20 minutes)
  • Guests seated for reception/dinner (10 minutes)
  • Introductions
  • First Dance (5 minutes)
  • Parent Dances (5-10 minutes)
  • Toasts/Speeches (15-20 minutes)
  • Dinner (45 min-One Hour)
  • Reception (including cake cutting, other formalities, 2ish Hours)

Remember, these times are obviously an estimate, and have “padding” built into them. Of course some wedding ceremonies aren’t a full thirty minutes long, but in case of a timeline snag, that buffer allows us to get back on track easily without derailing the entire wedding day timeline.

Want more locations or more time with your wedding party? You might need to consider at least ten hours of coverage.

TEN HOURS COVERAGE

So it’s settled. You want it all and don’t want to risk missing any moments. I’m here for that! Ten hours gives couples the most opportunities for photo ops without the wedding day feeling like a production. Ten hours of coverage is also recommended if your wedding day has two or more locations between getting-ready, ceremony, and the reception location, and you need time for travel and transportation.

And BONUS! The couple can usually join cocktail hour with a ten hour timeline!

A sample ten hour wedding day (without a first look!) timeline may look like this:

  • Details and prep photos for Partner A (One Hour)
  • Photographer pops over to Partner B’s room to photograph their prep (30 minutes minutes)
  • Partner B portraits and photos with their side of the wedding party (20 minutes)
  • Final touches for Partner A (wedding gown and jewelry, etc) (45 minutes)
  • Partner A’s portraits and photos with their side of the wedding party (20 minutes)
    Optional – travel time between venues (15-30 minutes)
  • Photographer photographs ceremony details and guests arriving (15 minutes before ceremony)
  • Wedding Ceremony (30 minutes)
  • Family Formals (20-30 minutes depending on groupings)
  • Wedding Party Photos (10-15 minutes. Less time here because most was shot before the ceremony.)
    Optional – travel time between venues (15-30 minutes)
  • Couple can join cocktail hour!
  • Photographs of the reception space before guests are invited in (20-30 minutes)
  • Guests seated for reception/dinner (10 minutes)
  • Introductions
  • First Dance (5 minutes)
  • Parent Dances (5-10 minutes)
  • Toasts/Speeches (15-20 minutes)
  • Dinner (45 min-One Hour)
  • Nighttime portraits (optional)
  • Reception (including cake cutting, other formalities, 3ish Hours)
  • Exit photos – sparkler, champagne, etc (30 minutes) Allows time for guests to gather belongings, line up outside, wait for directions, etc. This is never a “quick” thing.

And of course, ten hours WITH a first look might look like this:

  • Details and prep photos for Partner A (One Hour)
  • Photographer pops over to Partner B’s room to photograph their prep (30 minutes minutes)
  • Final touches for Partner A (wedding gown and jewelry, etc) (45 minutes)
  • First look and Romantic Portraits (30 minutes – One Hour)
  • Wedding Party photos, including individual shots with the bride/groom (30-45 minutes)
  • Optional – travel time between venues (15-30 minutes)
  • Photographer photographs ceremony details and guests arriving (15 minutes before ceremony)
  • Wedding Ceremony (30 minutes)
  • Family Formals (20-30 minutes depending on groupings)
  • Couple can join cocktail hour!
  • Optional – travel time between venues (15-30 minutes)
  • Photographs of the reception space before guests are invited in (20-30 minutes)
  • Guests seated for reception/dinner (10 minutes)
  • Introductions
  • First Dance (5 minutes)
  • Parent Dances (5-10 minutes)
  • Toasts/Speeches (15-20 minutes)
  • Dinner (45 min-One Hour)
  • Nighttime portraits (optional)
  • Reception (including cake cutting, other formalities, 3ish Hours)
  • Exit photos – sparkler, champagne, etc (30 minutes) Allows time for guests to gather belongings, line up outside, wait for directions, etc. This is never a “quick” thing.

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER:

Remember, this isn’t an end-all-be-all when it comes to how many hours you should book your photographer. There are plenty of ways to further customize your wedding day timeline. Some couples like to photograph the family formals before the ceremony, and some don’t want to be responsible for wrangling family members that early in the day. Some prefer to have the first and parent dances during dinner, and some like all the attention on them while they dance. I’ve even had some couples only invite the wedding party for the exit so the party can rage on through the night.

Most wedding photographers are happy to add more hours “a-la-carte” as the timeline starts to come together. Expect to pay more on the day of if you surprise your vendors with a request to work overtime, though.

Your wedding planner or venue coordinator will have plenty of suggestions for you when it comes to your wedding day timeline, so check in with them first. Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge of what your photographer may need, building your wedding day timeline should be a piece of cake!

Bride and groom cut cake at Villa Woodbine

NEXT: “Your Wedding Day Timeline & How to Keep Your Timeline on Schedule”

Looking for more wedding planning tips and tricks? I’ve written a few helpful articles! Click here for more.