Northern MI Wedding Photographer | How To Create A Stress Free Wedding Timeline


Weddings are one of the most memorable days in a couple’s life, but it can also be the most hectic.  If you have a timeline and everyone is on the same page, then your wedding day will essentially run itself and you can carry on being the laid back free-spirited you.

There are a few things that you should ask yourself before making your wedding day schedule.

  1. How long will hair and makeup take?
  2. How long do you expect the ceremony to last?
  3. What time can you arrive and go into your reception space and what time do you have to be out of the reception area?
  4. How many hours is your photographer and/or videographer scheduled for?
  5. Are you and your bride/groom doing a first look?
  6. What is the distance between the ceremony and reception locations?
  7. Do you want a long or short cocktail hour?
  8. Is the wedding party making a grand entrance into the reception or cocktail party?
  9. Is there going to be a first dance, parent dance, bridal party dance?
  10. What time is sunset going to happen on the day of your wedding?

This helps to be clear on what you can and cannot control on the day of your wedding.  I have fine tuned a schedule that has become the foundations for every wedding I shoot.  Of course, this schedule changes based on every couple’s unique hopes and needs of their wedding day.  This is the kind of schedule I try to achieve:

12:00 Arrive for getting ready photos and details

12:45  All hair and makeup finished

1:00 Dress on, final touches

1:30 First look, bride and groom portraits

2:30 Wedding party

3:00 Family portraits

3:30 Photos finished (guests begin to arrive) / Details

4:00 Ceremony begins

4:30 Ceremony ends

4:40 The bride & groom

5:00 The couple joins the cocktail hour or freshens up

5:30 Guests are seated for dinner

5:45 Grand entrance to the reception

I always give plenty of time to shoot getting ready details such as jewelry, shoes, the dress, cuff links, hair, etc.  I don’t want to feel rushed so I build that time into the schedule.  To start the day on time, everyone should be done with hair and makeup on time.  This applies to everyone –  including bridesmaids and the Mother of the bride – so that they’ll look fabulous and already dressed in the photos of you putting on your gown.  This also helps your hair and makeup artists know when they need to  be done, and it allows for a cushion if something happens to run late.

Scheduling a specific time for your dress to go on allows you to relax as you put it on, slip on jewelry, hug Mom, and laugh with your bridesmaids.  Plus, I can spend a few minutes photographing just you before heading out for the first look.

I schedule a full hour of time for your first look and your couple portraits before the ceremony.  This gives you plenty of time to breathe, relax, and enjoy your private time together before the day really sets in motion.  This will ground you in what really matters most – the two of you together, celebrating your love.  Also, if worse comes to worse and things run late while getting ready, we don’t need to use the full hour of couple time – there is also some time after the ceremony.

Doing the family portraits BEFORE the ceremony accomplishes a number of great things:

– There are no distractions so we can move very quickly (no pulling people from the depths of the cocktail hour).

– Family can immediately enjoy the cocktail hour and greet wedding guests right after the ceremony.

-The amazing light after the ceremony is saved just for you two.

– We’ll finish with photos at least 30 minutes before the invitation time because that’s when guests will begin to arrive.  I will photograph the beautiful details of your ceremony setup as well as take candid’s of your guests arriving and mingling.

-The only thing you will need to do is freshen up and take a moment to breath, relax and reflect on the amazing moment that this is.  Because you’ve seen one another already, you will be more relaxed and grounded, which means that you will be able to remember the emotional walk down the aisle with calm and clarity.

Once the ceremony is over, it’s time for the party to begin!  Since we’ve taken all of the necessary “have to have” images before the ceremony, everything else captured during this time is just icing on the cake – and boy is it good icing!

If the golden light of sunset doesn’t line up with our timeline, we’ll sneak away during the reception for  the length of a song or two.  It will be so worth it when you’re basked in the best light of the day with your new husband.

Once the reception starts, your only job is to HAVE FUN.  During dinner, take a moment to pause and savor the sounds of all of your most precious family and friends celebrating together.  I’ll be there to capture all of the amazing emotions and moments!

The key to enjoying your day is having a great plan ahead of time.  The day will run smoothly, and the only thing you will need to focus on is being with each other and savoring every moment!

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