how to help your clients plan their wedding timeline

October 21, 2021

colorado wedding photographer taking photos of couple on their wedding day

planning a wedding timeline can be tough, but your clients don’t have to do it alone!!

creating the perfect wedding day timeline can seem scary, but it doesn’t have to be! as a photographer, you know that day is all about your couple!!! i follow my couples around on wedding days like a new little puppy – during hair and makeup, getting on the dress, and toasting champagne with their besties (and any other fun day-of activities!)

i want to share all my best tips for a perfect wedding timeline so here they are! i have met many dj’s, wedding planners, venue event coordinators, and even parents who want to control the day, and that’s always helpful! but, if photography is important on your client’s wedding day (which if they hired you it must be!), you and your client HAVE TO make sure there is time for it!

YOUR JOB is to always capture behind the scenes of the day, every detail and moment will be photographed!

the one thing many couples can forget is to allot time after the ceremony for their photographer – after the family formal photos are done, after they hug everyone who sneaks to the group photo area, as a photographer this is when you pull the couple away for as much time as possible for those images they have always dreamt of!

they aren’t spending all that time getting ready before the ceremony to have it forgotten!

everyone at the wedding knows the couple are going to look so incredibly beautiful and handsome, but i love to capture shots of the clients both, together, MARRIED! it is truly one of the moment memorable moments of a wedding day, to take a breather, step back and soak in being MARRIED. i want to pull both of them away for an intimate moment together where you get to breathe and relish in your day! they deserve it!!

so, here’s the general layout i use for the a simple and organized day (feel free to share this with your couples!)! whether your couple choose to have a first look with their boo or not, there is a simple timeline for both! 

*with first look
GETTING READY
2:00 pm photographer arrives
2:00 getting ready photos begin of bride/groom and wedding party
2:45 bride/groom and wedding party photos begin
3:15 groom/bride and wedding party photos begin
3:45 first look photos of bride/groom + groom/bride
4:30 photos completed

CEREMONY
5:00 ceremony begins (usually around 30 minutes )
5:35 family photos
5:50 wedding party photos
6:00 newlyweds photos
6:25 depart for reception

RECEPTION
6:00 reception begins
6:30 arrive at reception + wedding party announced
6:40 grand introduction as the newlyweds
6:45 first dance
7:00 parents + wedding party toasts
7:30 dinner is served
8:00 cake cutting
8:00 open dance floor
8:30 bouquet + garter toss
8:45 open dance floor
10:00 formal sparkler exit
*without first look
GETTING READY
2:00 pm photographer arrives
2:00 getting ready photos begin of bride/groom and wedding party
3:30 bride/groom and wedding party photos begin
4:00 groom/bride and wedding party photos begin
4:30 photos completed

CEREMONY
5:00 ceremony Begins (usually around 30 minutes )
5:35 family photos
5:50 wedding party photos
6:00 newlyweds photos
6:25 depart for reception

RECEPTION
6:00 reception begins
6:30 arrive at reception + wedding party announced
6:40 grand introduction as the newlyweds
6:45 first dance
7:00 parents + wedding party toasts
7:30 dinner is served
8:00 cake cutting
8:00 open dance floor
8:30 bouquet + garter toss
8:45 open dance floor
10:00 formal sparkler exit

of course, these timelines are for fairly traditional wedding days. there is no one size fits all for a wedding timeline but that’s why having your client work with you to create it can really benefit their (and your) sanity and help you get the most wonderful images on their big day!

i make sure to include a timeline planning meeting with every couple i work with to make sure the day is pre-planned and well thought out to help them enjoy every moment! and you should too!!

bre + brandon had a traditional day without a first look, and everything went as planned! i had a moment with bre before she walked down the aisle and she glanced out the window to see brandon waiting at the altar for her, i remember how excited and in love bre looked in that moment and being able to see each other for the first time while walking down the aisle can be so incredible!

callie + ethan opted for an intimate first look on their big day. we planned it so there would be enough time to get bridal party and family photos done before the ceremony (which was right at sunset!) so we would have great light for everything, and it worked out perfectly! it made the day smooth and they also got some super sweet time together before they said I DO!

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a huge part of planning your day and deciding to have a first look depends on what time your ceremony begins and ends. that will be the first thing to decide and the rest of the day can flow right around it!

again, this is my recommendation for my brides,

and i hope this helps you help your clients in their wedding planning! remember, their wedding is going to be perfect, whether it’s sunny or rainy, with 500 guests or 3, it’s their special day and nobody can take that from them! Your job is to be there to support them and ensure that every special moment is captured so they will be able to relive this day forever!!  

if you want more help taking your wedding photography business to the next level click the link below to get my freebie on how to create an amazing client experience!

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