Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

After you have decided on a wedding date and venue for your wedding, you will want to begin planning the timeline of your wedding day: your ceremony time, dinner time, and exit time. As a photographer, your wedding day timeline is one of the biggest factors of getting the most beautiful, natural light pictures. Let me share a little secret with you: I planned my whole wedding day based on the sun. Knowing that film photography was important to me, I wanted to be sure that Nancy was given the opportunity and time to be able to shoot in as much film as possible.

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If you’re beginning to plan your wedding day timeline, follow these five simple steps:

Step 1: Look up the sunset time for your specific wedding day.

Step 2: Plan to have your portraits taken in 1.5 – 2 hours before sunset.

Step 2: Choose your ceremony time (if possible plan this time around the sunset so that your portraits fall between 1.5 – 2 hours before sunset)
– If you’re getting married inside, be sure to choose a bright time of day when the space is filled with natural light
– If you’re getting married outside, be sure to notice how the sun moves over that spot. Is it in direct sunlight or shaded? Shaded, even light is what you’re looking for!

Step 3: Subtract 45 minutes from your ceremony time for “hiding.” This is the timeframe where your guests will potentially begin to arrive, therefore you don’t want to be out in the open taking pictures. Be sure to have the picture taken before your ceremony wrapped up at this time.

Step 4: Allow ample time before “Hiding” for your first look and/or separate bridesmaid and groomsmen pictures
– If you decide to do a first look before your ceremony, know that it will take more time, especially if you’d like to get some formal pictures done as well
– If you have a large bridal party (ex: 15 bridesmaids and 15 groomsmen) be sure to add in more time

Step 5: Add family pictures, bridal party pictures and bride & groom pictures after the ceremony

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Here is what my May 3rd wedding day timeline looked like:

2:00pm – Bridal detail pictures – dress, shoes, jewelry, paper goods
3:00pm – Callie puts wedding dress on
3:15pm – Bridesmaid Portraits
3:45pm – Groomsmen Portraits
4:15pm – Bridal Party and Family Hiding / Nancy shoots reception & ceremony details
5:00pm – Ceremony
5:45pm – Cocktail Hour / Portraits Begin
6:00pm – Family Pictures
6:30pm – Bridal Party Pictures
6:45pm – Bride + Groom Introduced
7:00pm – Dinner
7:20pm – Bride & Groom Portraits
8:02pm – Sunset
8:00pm – Cake Cutting & Toasts
8:30pm – Guests move to tent for reception and dancing
11:00pm – Sparkler Exit

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And remember : your wedding day timeline should not look like this if you are getting married in the fall or winter! Check the sunset for your specific day here before you begin planning.

Don’t be discouraged if after you are reading this you are not happy with the timeline in your wedding. A good photographer can photograph a wedding in any light situation! If you are dealing with a lot of dark lighting, I can not tell you enough: trust your photographer and tell them that natural light is important to you. Best wishes for beautiful light and gorgeous film photography on your big day!

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  • Great competitions of pictures !
    keep posting ...
    I''m a regular follower of your blog please update more events..
    Thanks

  • misty Bane said:

    thanks for the great tips! if the lighting for portraits is best 1 1/2-2 hours before sunset, what is your thinking in taking the bride and groom portraits 40 minutes before sunset instead of during that window?