Planning your Wedding Day Timeline

Bride Resources, Featured

Jul 1, 2021

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Step 1: Ceremony Time

“Fresh photos with the bomb lighting” – okay snow that I got my Lizzo out – let’s talk timeline!! The first thing you need to decide is what time your ceremony is going to be. Everyone wants the glowing sunset photos. Two things need to happen to get sunset images. There needs to be a sunset (sorry, we cannot control the weather) and we need to be taking photos during sunset (we can make this happen!).

You have two options. First option, Is you plan your ceremony to end 1 hour before sunset time. So let’s say the sun sets at 6:30 (a simple google search for “sunset time – your wedding date” will give you this answer). You will want a 5:00 Ceremony so that 5:30 to 6:30 will be your cocktail hour and you are taking your portraits during sunset! This works well IF you do a first look. If you do not do a first look, we recommend planing your ceremony for 3 hours before sunset. So, for a 6:30 sunset you’ll want a 3:30 Ceremony. Cocktail hour/formals from 4:00-5:00 then we can sneak back out of the reception around 6:00 for a few sunset photos! This give you enough reception time to finish first dances and eat before we sneak out!

Check back tomorrow for your next timeline tip! I’m going to do a little mini-series talking about each portion of your day!

Step 1.5: Should you do a first look?

Okay so really before you can complete step 1 (deciding your ceremony time) you should probably determine whether or not you want to do a first look. First looks are amazing, but do not feel like you have to do one!! I am going to tell you all of the benefits of a first look but know that for years they weren’t a thing… We are confident in helping you create a timeline that will allow for the best photos at the best times even if you don’t do a first look! We love them but we do not push you to do one!

Why we love the first look:

  1. You get a lot more portrait time which leads to a less rushed (less stressful!) wedding day. You two see each other before the ceremony then we can go ahead and get couples portraits and full bridal party portraits rather than cramming them all into the hour after the ceremony! So After the ceremony we get a SECOND set of time for couples portraits (if it rains for an hour earlier in the day, you know you have a second time where we can hopefully get some umbrella-free portraits!)
  2. You get your nerves out! Cory didn’t cry when I walked down the aisle… why you ask? Not because he didn’t think I was beautiful, but because he was so dang nervous!! A lot of people (ahem grooms) have told me how glad they were that they did a first look for this reason alone. All eyes are on the two of you during your ceremony. We set the first look up with the groom turned around, we fix your dress, then YOU tell your groom when you’re ready for him to turn around. You actually get to speak to each other. He can tell you how beautiful you look and you can tell him his tie is crooked. You can cry all the happy tears. We then leave you alone for a few minutes while you soak up the moment. This allows you to be more relaxed for the ceremony when you are about to say “I Do” to the love of your life!
  3. I have heard many people suggest that they do not want to do a first look because it goes against tradition. Now, I’m not sure how true this is BUT I’ve been told that tradition comes from arranged marriages. The groom wasn’t supposed to see the bride so that he didn’t get cold feet if he didn’t like her looks

Now, all of those are reason why you should do a first look. I have one reason why you shouldn’t… If you don’t want to! Do I love a first look? YES but this day isn’t about me, it’s about YOU and you should do whatever YOU want because this is YOUR wedding day! Every year more and more choose to do a first look but we still have about 30-40% of our couples that choose not to! You can still have a perfectly beautiful photo-filled day. We just suggest that you choose option 2 when planning your ceremony time!

Step 2: Relaxation and Details

So now that you have you’re ceremony time decided, I personally like to work backwards. Let’s say for the sake of this blog post, you have chosen to do a first look and the sun sets at 6:30 so you are having a 5:00 Ceremony. You will want to be done with your pre-ceremony photos NO LATER THAN 4:30. Generally guest start arriving around that time, and you will want a little down time before you get married. During this time, I will go to your reception space (if it’s in the same location) and get reception detail and Cory will head to the ceremony site and get the ceremony details. This time is not only important for you to get a little R&R before you say your I do’s but you want too have photos of all the details you worked SO HARD on to decorate for this day!

So here is what we have so far:
4:30 Relax /Jackie to get Reception Details/Cory to get Ceremony details
5:00 Ceremony

Step 3: Pre-Ceremony Portrait time

So let’s back it up again to schedule our pre-ceremony portrait time. If you are doing a first look, there’s a little more time here. for the sake of this blog post and since a larger percentage of our couples do a first look, we are going to continue with that assumption. There are 3 sets of portraits that need to be done in this time. Bride & Groom Portraits, Full bridal party portraits, and Bridesmaids & Groomsmen portraits. These are going to happen right after your first look. We will go straight into bride and groom portraits and spend about 45 minutes on them, we will then spend about 30 minutes on bridesmaids/groomsmen portraits. I will do the girls while Cory does the guys. We will then want to allot about 15 minutes to full bridal party portraits. So if I’m adding these to the timeline it’s going to look like this:

  • 3:00 Bride & Groom Portraits
  • 3:45 Bridesmaids
    • Cory gets groomsmen
  • 4:15 Full Bridal Party
  • 4:30 Relax /Jackie to get Reception Details/Cory to get Ceremony details
  • 5:00 Ceremony

Spoiler alert: I DO NOT really need all of this time for portraits, BUT the last thing I want for you on your wedding day is for you to feel rushed or stressed about the timeline, so there’s a little bit of buffer time in there 🙂

Step 4: The First Look

We normally allot about 15 minutes for the first look. So in this scenario, the first look would happen at about 2:45. So this is a little over 2 hours before your ceremony. If you’re not at the point in your wedding planning where you are ready to create a timeline, still take note that first look happens between 2 and 2.5 hours before your ceremony time. This will be helpful to know when planning other things!

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