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Hi there! Welcome to my blog, a place where I share my life, weddings, and my journey through building a life-giving business. Stay a while and say hello!


The Wedding Day Timeline

Wedding Wednesday

April 3, 2019

One of the most crucial things to plan well for a wedding day is the TIMELINE. Without this, everything would go wrong and fall behind! I don’t want to scare you, but it’s true. Most brides will find this overwhelming, and most likely, they don’t know where or how to start. If this is something that stresses you out, don’t even worry! I’ve created so many custom timelines in my life, I could whip the perfect one up for you in a matter of 10 minutes!

In order to create a timeline that works well for your unique wedding day, you have to ask yourself a few questions first:

1. What time is your ceremony and how long will it last?

2. Are you sharing a First Look?

3. Will there be any travel time between the getting ready locations and the ceremony and reception venues?

4. Will you have a cocktail hour before your reception?

Keep those answers in the back of your mind, but before we move on to the next part, let me explain something. As a photographer, I need certain amounts of time allotted to each portion of the day in order for me to capture everything in a way that reflects what you have seen on my blog! In the event that your timeline gets thrown off or it is impossible to give me the desired amount of time for each section of the day, I’ll be as efficient as humanly possible! Photography is a big investment, so it is ALWAYS my goal to capture the images that you’ve always dreamed of no matter what! However, capturing images that you are going to freak out over later can take some time! Here is a list of each part of the day and the ideal amount of time I would love to have:

Bridal Details | 60 minutes

This is when I will photograph the dress, shoes, rings, etc. and it’s my favorite way to start the day! This time allows me to get warmed up for the day and gets my creative juices flowing. I will also get some shots of the ladies hanging out/getting ready during this time!

Bride Getting Ready | 30 – 45 minutes

This can take 10 minutes or 45! You just never know! This is an area where I build in extra time just in case hair or makeup runs behind or something else! Also, I love having a few minutes to capture just the bride in her gown!!

The First Look and Bride & Groom Portraits | 45-60 mins

30 minutes is doable for B&G portrait time, though it’s risky because the timeline could easily run behind 15 minutes or even more, which only leaves you with 15 minutes for portraits! So, I love having AT LEAST 45 minutes before the ceremony, and even 60 minutes if you want lots of portraits – this will give you more time to relax and enjoy your wedding day. My goal is to be able to give my couples some additional portraits that add a little extra variety from the ones that I took pre-ceremony! If it’s a spring/summer/early fall wedding, I also like to take about 10-15 minutes at sunset for more B&G portraits! It’s the most beautiful time of day! If you are not sharing a first look, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have at least 30 minutes of portrait time after the ceremony!

Bridal Party Portraits | 30 mins

This can depend on the size of the party. I always capture just the bridesmaids, just the groomsmen, the entire group together, and then individuals with the bride and groom separately. Even with my super fast workflow, this can take some time!

Family Formals | 30 mins

This is the hardest part of the day as far as photography is concerned! I make it my mission to make family formals fast, easy, and as efficient as possible! I recommend 30 minutes for family formals, but not at the expense of your Bride & Groom portrait time! I can always grab large group photos during the reception. That glowy sunset light for Bride & Groom portraits has to be taken advantage of right when it’s happening because it will disappear quickly!

Reception Details | 20 – 30 mins

I would love at least 20 minutes to photograph all of the beautiful details and decor of your reception UNTOUCHED. However, if I’m only able to have 10 minutes, that will suffice and I will work quickly! If the ceremony and reception are at the same venue, the best time for me to do this is while the wedding party is in hiding before the ceremony!

Everything else, including the ceremony and the reception events, is in the hands of the coordinator and the DJ – I simply take photos as they happen and I work more behind the scenes!

I am usually able to make everything fit in 8 hours of coverage, especially if the ceremony and reception are at the same location! If you have lots of travel time between the getting ready location, portrait locations, ceremony venue, and reception venue OR are having a Catholic ceremony, I recommend adding an additional hour. I never want my brides and grooms to feel rushed on their wedding day – I want them to be able to enjoy every second of it because it goes SO FAST! Keep that in mind as you’re planning your timeline!


Here are some examples of what a wedding day could look like for you!


4pm Ceremony + First Look + All One Location + Cocktail Hour

12:00     Details

1:00       Dress on!

1:30        First Look and Bride & Groom Portraits

2:30       Bridal Party Portraits

3:00       Wedding party in hiding & Summer photographs reception details

4:00       Ceremony

5:00       Family Formals during Cocktail Hour (this will happen after you greet guests!)

5:45       Wedding Party announced and reception begins

6:30       Toasts, Cake cutting, Dances, etc.

7:00        Sunset photos

7:15         Open dance floor

8:00        Coverage ends


4pm Ceremony + First Look + All One Location + No Cocktail Hour

11:45     Details

12:45    Dress on!

1:15       First Look and Bride & Groom Portraits

2:15      Bridal Party Portraits

2:45      Family Formals

3:15      Wedding party in hiding & Summer photographs reception details

4:00     Ceremony

5:00     Wedding Party announced and reception begins

6:00      Toasts, Cake cutting, Dances, etc.

7:00       Sunset photos

7:15        Open dance floor

7:45       Coverage ends


4pm Ceremony + First Look + 15 Min Travel Time + Different Ceremony & Reception Venues + Cocktail Hour

11:45       Details

12:45      Dress on!

1:15        Drive to Ceremony Venue

1:30        First Look and Bride & Groom Portraits

2:15       Bridal Party Portraits

2:45       Family Formals

3:15       Wedding party in hiding

4:00       Ceremony

4:30       Cocktail Hour (Summer quickly shoots reception details before guests arrive from ceremony)

5:30       Wedding Party announced and reception begins

6:15       Toasts, Cake cutting, Dances, etc.

7:00        Sunset photos

7:15         Open dance floor

7:45        Coverage ends


4pm Ceremony + No First Look + All One Location + Cocktail Hour

1:15       Details

2:15       Dress on!

2:45       Bridesmaid Portraits

3:00      Groomsmen Portraits

3:15       Wedding party in hiding & Summer photographs reception details

4:00       Ceremony

4:30       Family Formals during Cocktail Hour

5:00       Full Bridal Party Portraits

5:15        Bride & Groom Portraits

6:00       Wedding Party announced and reception begins

6:45       Sunset photos

7:00       Toasts, Cake cutting, Dances, etc.

8:00       Open dance floor

9:15        Coverage ends

*If you are getting married in the winter months and decide to opt out of a First Look, the ceremony would need to start by 2pm at the latest in order to have enough daylight afterwards for all the portraits.


I hope this was more helpful than it was overwhelming! Every wedding day is going to be a little bit different, so don’t worry if none of these examples work well for you; maybe you have 4 or 5 different locations, maybe you decided not to have a First Look, maybe your ceremony will last 1 hour instead of 30 minutes, or maybe you want me to stay for your grand exit at the end of the night! However you want your wedding day to play out, we will make it happen. I am always available to answer any questions and to help build wedding day timelines! 3 months before your wedding day, I will send a detailed questionnaire to you that helps me get a feel for how you want your wedding day to pan out. It will have questions about the ceremony details to the location addresses, from the family portrait list to the reception order of events. From this questionnaire, I can help you plan a detailed timeline that’s perfect for you! Remember – there’s no reason to stress about it – I’ll help every step of the way!


xoxo, Summer



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