Wedding Day Timeline

Learn how to create a successful wedding day timeline so you can enjoy your wedding day and take it all in.

Getting Ready

(60 minutes)

The “getting ready” portion of the day is important for many reasons. It helps us tell the story and serves as a great opening chapter to your album. It also tends to be jam packed with excitement and happy tears, all of which are moments that should be captured and preserved so you can always look back and feel the emotion of the day.

Moments + Details

When we arrive, brides should be almost fully finished with hair and makeup, and grooms should be showered and partially dressed (wait to put on ties/bow-ties, jacket, shoes, etc). Since we work in teams of two photographers, we are able to split up and capture both sides simultaneously.  It’s really important to ensure that the getting ready portion runs on time so the rest of the day goes smoothly. Be sure to consult your hair and makeup specialist in order to figure out how much time is needed for each person. Sometimes we even recommend having some bridesmaids go after the bride, so if anything does run late, we can at least get started on the photos with the bride before having to head out for the First Look or Ceremony.

We will be shooting the details during this time as well (dress, shoes, jewelry, tux, etc) and it’s helpful if all items are organized and in the same area so we can move quickly and not miss any special moments. We also love when our couples tell us about a special or unique detail piece that they want us to shoot. Have an old handkerchief or piece of jewelry passed down through the generations? Be sure to tell us so we know it’s an important heirloom! In love with beautiful details as much as we are? Check out our post on The Prettiest Little Details of 2014!

The “First Look”

Should I consider seeing my fiancé before my ceremony?

There’s no right or wrong here. While having a “First Look” certainly has it’s perks in respect to timeline, we respect the fact that many couples opt to save this special moment for the alter. First Looks have become increasingly popular for the pure fact that it allows couples can get a majority of their formals portraits done before the ceremony, therefore allowing them to enjoy their cocktail hour. However, if you have your heart set on seeing each other at the ceremony, then we’re with you all the way! If you’re wondering if a First Look is right for you, here are some questions to ask yourself:

“Are we limited on time between the ceremony and the reception?”

For weddings where everything happens in the same location (ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception) and are all very close together time-wise, doing a First Look may be a good option for you. Otherwise, you may have limited time (sometimes only 1 hour) for all the necessary photographs to be taken, which would most likely take up the majority of the cocktail hour. See below for more details about the time needed for formals.

“If there is limited time in between ceremony and reception, are we ok with missing our cocktail hour in order to get all of the essential photographs done?”

While we strive to have all couples enjoy their cocktail hour, there may be times when family formals need to extend into this time period. If this is the case and if your concern is not having enough time to mingle with guests, it may be worth considering either extending the cocktail hour to 1.5 hours, or opting for a First Look.

“Are there multiple locations we want to go to for photographs?”

A good example is if your event takes place in a city and you want to take photographs in many of the iconic spots around that city. Travel time and traffic will need to be factored into the amount of time needed for these photos as well. This is also when a First Look can be handy if there is limited time between the ceremony and reception.

Couples Portrait

(45-60 minutes)

If you’ve decided that doing a First Look is right for you, this usually takes place right before we start photographing the couple’s portrait session, so we’d suggest setting aside a minimum of 45-60 minutes for both the First Look and couple portraits. Keep in mind that this timeline varies depending on the number of locations that are on your “wish list” and any travel time involved.

Tips + Tricks

You’re standing next to the love of your life, so one thing we want to see is a lot of love and affection. Hand holding, snuggling, slow dancing, gentle kisses, and doing things to make each other giggle, all work wonders when it comes to being photographed. Most importantly, trust us and our guidance when we suggest what may seem like silly things. If you are unsure about the direction that’s being given, ask for clarification. Oftentimes, we like to show a “sneak peek” from our camera, to show you what’s working and what’s not – but mostly, sometimes we’re just so excited to show you how GOOD you guys look!

One of the most benefits to having an engagement session with us in the months leading up to your wedding is that you’ll have little to no “warming up” photographically. You’ll know exactly what to expect, and understand the guidance we’ll give during your portraits.

Wedding Party Portraits

(15-30 minutes)

The amount of time required for wedding party portraits depends on the amount of people in your wedding party and also the number of locations and distance in between each location. For the sake of this article, let’s say that we’re doing everything in one location. For a wedding party of 3-6 people, we’d normally suggest 15-20 minutes. If you have a larger wedding party (with 7 or more people), we’d suggest allotting 20-30 minutes. These portraits may include portraits of each side separately, everyone together formally and then any “casual” shots you may want. If you would like to include individual photographs with each person in the wedding party, then we would recommend consulting us on additional time that may be needed to work that into the timeline.

Family Formal Portraits

( 30-45 minutes)

The length of time for family formals varies on the amount of people in your family and location(s) but we typically recommend at least 30-45 minutes for family formal portraits. If you are having a First Look and wanting to do these portraits before the ceremony, then most likely your extended family won’t be ready early enough to be included in this part of the day. In that case, we recommend shooting large extended family groups during the downtime in your reception. This may be right after dinner, before all of the dancing starts and you could ask your Band or DJ to announce that there will be a large family photo either on the dance floor or out in the lobby/stairwell. This will alleviate a lot of stress on waiting for a lot of people to gather for photos beforehand.

If you are planning to do all of the family formals in between the ceremony and reception, then we just recommend letting everyone know before the big day and you can tell them to wait after the ceremony at the church or go directly to the family formal location (we can suggest a good place to take the photos). Be sure to check with your church or ceremony location to see if there are any time restrictions or rules you need to be aware of.

Tips + Tricks

Understand that it is our goal to move quickly and efficiently through each groupings, so having a member of the wedding party to help coordinate everyone will just facilitate this. We understand your family and guests want to enjoy the party, so we make it our mission to make sure they do!

married couple and receiving line after wedding ceremony

Receiving Lines

(20-40 minutes)

If you choose to have a receiving line following your church ceremony, it’s important that your wedding day timeline accommodates some time for you to greet your guests. Choosing to have a receiving line is a personal preference, and oftentimes an after thought. However, we do suggest if there is a limited amount of time in between for photos, it may be wise to forgo the receiving line. This again depends on the structure of your timeline. Nowadays a lot of couples use their cocktail hour as the time spent going around to greet all of their guests and thank them for coming in lieu of a receiving line. If there is plenty of time in between and you feel a receiving line is important to you and your families, then we are all for it!

Cocktail Hour

(60-90 minutes)

Do you photograph guests during cocktail hour?

While the bulk of cocktail hour is normally spent shooting the details of the reception room, the benefit of having two photographers on your wedding day is that we’re able to divide-and-conquer and photograph your cocktail hour. If we do not require additional hands in the reception room, our second-shooters are ready to mingle with you and your guests during the cocktail hour. We also find it’s best to photograph groups of guests during this portion versus doing table shots during the reception. Your guests will be much more receptive to having their picture taken while they are standing and mingling than when they’re sitting and eating!

Reception Photography

Beyond Dinner + Dancing

How long do you typically stay at the Reception?

Every reception timeline and structure is going to be slightly different so we highly suggest speaking with your venue manager in order to determine when all of the major events are happening. As a general “rule of thumb” we typically stay until right after cake cutting, or 1-1.5 hours before the end of the reception. Again this timeline may vary but we are usually able to capture all of the main events before cake cutting, such as Introductions, First Dance, Speeches, Parent Dances and general dance floor shots. So we don’t need to stay until the end unless of course you are planning a grand exit, like sparklers or fireworks! In that case, you may need additional coverage to keep us until the very end. We are more than willing to stay as long as you need!

Sunset + Night shots

If there is any sort of downtime during the reception, then typically we use this time to sneak away with the two of you for some quick night or sunset shots (depending on the time of year your wedding takes place). If this is something that’s really important to you, then we recommend discussing it with us before the big day so we can work that into your reception timeline. It may require 15-20 minutes depending on where we go for those night shots, but in the end you’ll be over the moon happy with the end result!

Extended Family + Large Groups

Because the “Family Formal” portion of the day is typically reserved for the people you consider to be part of your “immediate” family, we always suggest photographing larger groups of extended family members during your reception. If you mention to your band leader and/or DJ that you’d like to photograph some larger groups, they can help announce those family members and friends by their table number!

Questions

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a call to discuss your wedding day timeline, feel free to reach out to your main contact person. (Note: Your Femina contact is the person you met or spoke with during the booking process and will most likely be your main photographer.) If you are unsure if you’ll be working with Nicole or Noelle, contact us below:

+ email us

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