How to Make a Wedding Timeline | Penny Photographics


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Minneapolis Wedding Photographers

How to Make a Wedding Timeline:

Once you’ve learn how to make a wedding timeline for yourself, I promise you will feel much better about the wedding day and not want to build a pillow-fort and hide forever.

outdoor wedding couple plane penny photographics make a wedding timeline

Weddings, ALL WEDDINGS, are chaotic in some way or at some point during the day. So being a little “A-type” on the back end allows for the day to sorta unravel and you know it’s going to still be ok.

So, in order to help y’all out, I decided to take some time to write down a little guide.

All right.

So the first thing when mocking up a simple timeline is to answer these basic questions:

  1. Are you having a first look with your fiancé?
  2. Are you having a first look with anyone else IE Dad?
  3. What time is the ceremony?
  4. What time is dinner?
  5. Is this an all-in-one venue?
  6. Will there be a cocktail hour?
  7. What time is the sunset on your wedding? (http://suncalc.net)
  8. Where will you be getting ready/where will you be getting dressed? (Sometimes these are two different places, and most of the time you and the fiancé are getting ready in two separate locations.)

There are many more questions I ask my couples to help narrow down how to make a wedding timeline best, but these are the big ones to know.

*Please note that this example is for couples who ARE having a first look with each other and planning to have group photos taken before the ceremony.*

Based on your answers you can make a first draft of a timeline. So, for example, here are the answers:

  1. Yes we will be having a first look
  2. Yes a first look with dad as well
  3. Ceremony is at 4pm
  4. Dinner is at 6pm
  5. Yes all in one venue and reception
  6. Yes there will be a cocktail hour
  7. Sunset for the day is at 7:35
  8. One of us will be getting ready at our house (20 min from the venue) and the other will be getting ready at our hotel (15 min from the venue)

Let’s begin the timeline with the ceremony time and work our way backwards.

So, lets say the ceremony is at 4pm.

Great! Most ceremonies are 30 minutes.

*Always assume everything takes at least 30 minutes.

Eating lunch? 30 minutes. Tying my shoes? 30 minutes!

4:00-4:30 Ceremony

Next, you work your way backwards and add a break or rest time before the ceremony because, believe me, you will want a buffer and some you-time before the ceremony.

3:30-4:00 Rest time before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time

All right. Assuming we are in an all-in-one venue and we are doing first looks, we know we can hammer out all of the wedding party photos and the family photos before the ceremony.

2:30-3:00 Wedding party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time

(Tip: If you have more than 6 in the bridal party, you might want to add more time for photos.)

Then you assume that right after the first look, you will sneak off and take some couple portraits/photos.

If you are planning a first look that is off-site from the venue, you will have to figure out travel time etc. (This is another benefit of having Entire-Day coverage)

2:00 First look with each other + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Bridal party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time

make a wedding timeline

Ok, so if you are having a first look with dad you are going to want to include some buffer cry-time/re-apply makeup/gather my thoughts time. So:

1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with each other + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Wedding party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time

2017-01-10_0006.jpg

SO, now you know that you have to be drop-dead gorgeous by 1:30. That means you have to start putting on that dress/tux/etc. at LEAST 30 minutes prior, if not give yourself more time for the shoes, garter, jewelry, wardrobe mishaps, etc.

1:00 Get dressed up
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with each other + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Wedding party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time

wedding details Minnesota penny photographics make a wedding timeline

Ah, the “Getting Ready” photos. This is a very important part of the day for lots of reasons.

For one, this time allows us to get to know and establish trust with all of your friends and family.

(This time also allows us to honor any family heirlooms or details.)

Typically, Earl and I will split up and each go to you and your fiancé’s getting ready places and hang out for about 1-2 hours.

11:00 Getting ready photos/ Introduction of Penny and Earl
1:00 Get dressed
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look each other + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Bridal party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time

Whew! Hopefully you are still with me at this point.

Ok, so now we skim alllllll the way back to ceremony time that ends at 4:30 and keep going.

Now, this is usually where the cocktail hour begins and social hour magic is happening.

This is where more photos of you and your betrothed are taken, as well as photos of your guests.

11:00 Photographer arrives – Getting ready photos
1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with each other + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 wedding party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time
4:30-5:30 Cocktail fun time

Your venue will decide the how and when specifics of dinner. Some venues have to flip the ceremony site, sometimes it takes a while to get guests seated, etc.

11:00 Photographer arrives – Getting ready photos
1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with each other + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 wedding party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time
4:30-5:30 Cocktail fun time
6:00-7:00 Dinner

During the end of dinner are speeches and somewhere in this time is probably the cake cutting if you’re doing the cake thing.

11:00 Photographer arrives – Getting ready photos
1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with each other + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 wedding party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time
4:30-5:30 Cocktail fun time
6:00-7:00 Dinner
6:45 Speeches

wedding speeches penny photographics

*It’s important to stick to the timeline for speeches or at least keep your photographer informed of any changes so that they can be sure to be photographing the speeches and not slamming down that delicious chicken you provided for them. 😉

After speeches, couples usually get up to mingle with their guests and depending on the sunset time, you would either go into your first dance OR run off into the sunset for epic photos!

The whole reception is waiting for your first dance to kick off the party (unless you have kids at the wedding cuz kids bring their own party to the dance floor!)

11:00 Photographer arrives – Getting ready photos
1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with each other + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 wedding party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time
4:30-5:30 Cocktail fun time
6:00-7:00 Dinner
6:45 Speeches
7:00 First dances

2017-01-10_0007.jpg

All right, so you did your first dance and the DJ opens up the dance floor for all of your party people.

It’s time to haul tail into the sunset for those epic photos you are sure to want.

11:00 Photographer arrives – Getting ready photos
1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with each other + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 wedding party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time
4:30-5:30 Cocktail fun time
6:00-7:00 Dinner
6:45 Speeches
7:00 First dances
7:15-7:45 Run off into the sunset for photos

 

outdoor wedding couple plane penny photographics

outdoor wedding couple plane penny photographics

 

After the sun is gone there is not as much of a rush anymore so then the party just opens up and it’s pretty much time to dance!

The garter, bouquet, etc. can go near the end of the reception or really you can do that whenever you feel like it….it’s your wedding!

2017-01-10_0003.jpg

Last questions are if you are having any type of send-off because that needs to be documented.

Also, towards the end of the night we might steal our couples to take a few more photos of the two of them.

The emotions of the day have settled and the emotion is a little different in the end of the night photos. 😉

wedding night shot penny photographics

11:00 Photographer arrives – Getting ready photos
1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with each other + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 wedding party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time
4:30-5:30 Cocktail fun time
6:00-7:00 Dinner
6:45 Speeches
7:00 First dances
7:15-7:45 Run off into the sunset for photos

-Dance Time!
8:00- More dance fun
9:30 End of night photos
11:00 Epic send-off into married life
11:30 Last call for bar
11:45 Last drink
12:00 Last song

So, obviously there are many other factors and details that go into planning a wedding, but this is a good start.

The important thing is to talk it out with your photographer (hopefully yours truly) and go from there.

Whew! That was a lot of thought.

More coffee needed.

So, did that help you make a wedding timeline? Let me know in the comments! 

Check out more tips and tricks!

 

How to Make a Wedding Timeline | Penny Photographics

January

  1. Katie

    January 14th, 2017 at 9:35 am

    You are amazing! I have been struggling on figuring out a general time line for my wedding. We are just in the firat stages of planning now but I couldn’t find any info on how to sort it out. This helped me immensely.

  2. pennyphotographics

    January 14th, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Thanks Katie! I’m so glad I could help 🙂 Wedding planning can be overwhelming but just remember that as long as you get to marry your best friend, you win!

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