When I was getting married I had no idea how to write my wedding day timeline. Now that I’ve been to a fewwwww weddings, I help my couples write their timelines! I find that so much of a wedding day is centered around when pictures are being taken or where we need to be to take photos, so that’s why I like to help! Throughout the day, there are some major things to keep in mind, so keep reading and get planning!!
You don’t need to have your photographer arrive when your day starts. I usually arrive wherever the couple (or one of the parties) is getting ready around an hour and a half to two hours prior to the ceremony. This leaves time for getting ready pictures, detail shots (click to get a free flat lay checklist!) dress, and ceremony space, oftentimes a first look, bridal party shots, and a moment to chill before you walk down the aisle.
I LOVE first looks (Check out this couple’s first look and private vow reading in downtown Grand Rapids!). But that doesn’t mean you have to do one! It’s important to know how they affect your wedding day timeline, though. If you choose to do a first look, that means we will have time to get your bridal party pictures finished prior to the ceremony since you and your boo have already seen eachother (i.e. you get to your reception quicker)! However, if you choose not to do a first look, that means we probably will do bride & groom pictures, family pictures, and bridal party pictures right after the ceremony (i.e. you don’t get to your reception quite so fast)!
Wedding ceremonies are not as long as you think! Typical ceremonies are around 20 minutes! After the ceremony, one of the most time consuming aspects to a wedding can be gathering family back to the altar area for family photos! To save time on your wedding day timeline, I suggest having your officiant say something about family sticking around so they don’t scatter right away!
Whether I’m your photographer or not, I suggest giving your photographer a family photos list! That way, they can efficiently direct those photos instead of you! It’s also helpful to elect one of those family or friends who keeps asking how they can help to help during this time! Since these are posed and not as creative, family photos usually take me around 30 minutes!
Sometimes, I’ll do guys and girls separately prior to the ceremony if you didn’t do a first look. But, if you do a first look, I’ll often do these photos prior to the ceremony instead of in the middle. That way all you need to do is family photos! During these wedding party pictures, remember I/your photographer definitely wanna have fun and party hard, but you also need to be prepared to listen to get these photos and move forward with your wedding day timeline! I suggest waiting to head to the bar til after these are done for that very reason 😉
Traditions are changing! There is not an order of your reception that you need to stick to in order to keep your guests engaged, but pretty commonly, this is what I’ve been seeing: grand entrance, dinner, speeches as dinner is wrapping up, cut cake, first dances, and open dancing! However, I can’t stress this enough, make your party your own! Couples move cake cutting or special elements all around; there is no exact place this needs to happen!
It isn’t often that I stay all the way til the end of a wedding day to capture the send off! Often, a couple will do a fake send off during the dancing where everyone grabs a sparkler (or other element!) and heads outside to do a fun send off picture. To ensure guests get right back into dancing, planning this with your DJ is important so they know to play a super energetic song as you enter back inside! Don’t love the idea of a fake send off? You can totally do a real one! I’ll have an extra cup off coffee and hang out all the way til you leave. Another fun trend is doing a last dance after all your guests leave (talk about tears behind the lens!!)
Your wedding day timeline is YOURS. You have the privilege of choosing exactly how you want to party on your wedding day! If you want your timeline to be super chill, let’s do it (Check out Zach and Annie’s chill, backyard wedding day here). If you want to move from point A to B without much free time, let’s do it. This day is happening one time; make it amazing! As I mentioned, I’m here to help you plan out all the things and make sure we capture all the special elements. I CAN’T WAIT!
A couples and wedding photographer serving West Michigan + beyond.