How to Make a Wedding Timeline

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With so many moving parts, a timeline is imperative on a wedding day. It lends the space needed to create beautiful and romantic photographic art that tells the story of the wedding. Throughout your wedding journey, your timeline is one constant that can rely on and look to for logistical answers. It ensures balance, inclusion, structure and enjoyment by allowing each element of your day to have its own time.


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The result is a joyful wedding day that you remember as an experience rather than chaos. Without a timeline, things will be missed on your wedding day and you will almost certainly run out of time for the many photographs you hope to have captured.

I am sometimes asked why, as the photographer, I am designing the timeline in place of the wedding planner. My response is simple. It is in fact the client that is designing the timeline through your request for photographic coverage. Every couple expects documentation of each of the important wedding elements (couple’s photos, family formals, ceremony, etc.); we must create the space and time to capture these photos. Without allocated time, they are impossible.

While there is a vein of photojournalism in each part of your day, most of the times allocated to photos are meant to put a halt in the commotion to create an environment of stillness in which beautiful moments are styled, directed and happening spontaneously. In my decade of photographing weddings, never has a wedding unfolded into beauty and romance without a detailed timeline and coordination of a photographer, wedding planner or coordinator.

Let me take you under my wing here as we develop a timeline for your wedding day using this template. It will take every detail of the day into account, allow breathing space and give all vendors time to work. Together we will be respectful of and efficient with time to ensure we allow for celebration so your wedding feels nothing like a hectic day and instead like a beautiful experiential event.

IN THIS GUIDE I AM GIVING YOU ANSWERS TO:

  • How to determine the time you need for:

    • getting ready

    • couple’s photos

    • formal family photos

    • bridal party photos

  • How to determine if you need a reveal with your groom

  • How to structure your day:

    • If you opt out of having a reveal

    • To include all of your photography requests

    • So the that you can join the cocktail hour

  • What to include in your formal family photos shot list

  • How other couples create their timeline

…with templates and examples

For more guides and resources visit the RESOURCE PAGE.

STEP 1: sample timeline

Review this real-wedding example to familiarize yourself with the timeline style. You will find all the tools to build your own timeline in the download.

Couple: Jennifer and Peter Carusso
Location: Downtown Toronto Rooftop Ceremony & Reception
No. of Guests: 150
No. in Bridal Party: 5 bridesmaids, 5 groomsmen
No. of Family in Portraits: 37
Reveal with Groom: Yes
Cocktail Hour: Yes
Description: A gorgeous Toronto rooftop venue with breathtaking views of the city and harbor used for both the ceremony and reception. Although the venue is stunning, it has no ideal location for portraiture variety. The couple opts to go offsite, but nearby, for their couple’s and bridal party portraits and candids, while avoiding the request of family to travel off-site. Family formals are taken at the venue itself.

To facilitate quick transportation in style, two vehicles are arranged, a classic white Rolls-Royce to transport the couple and a white Bentley Mulsanne Grand Limousine to transport the bridal party.

CARUSSO WEDDING TIMELINE SAMPLE

morning
08:00
stylists arrive to venue for hair and make-up
10:15 photography starts (hair and make-up, dresses)
10:30 details and flat lays (rings, invitation suite, dresses, accessories…)
11:00 groom and groomsmen prep photos; bridesmaids get dressed
11:20 bride dresses into gown and bridal portraits
11:50 load transportation

afternoon
12:05
depart for first look (groom rides with bridal party)
12:20 first look
12:30 couples photos
13:20 bridal party photos
14:10 depart for formal family portraits
14:30 arrive to ceremony location & freshen up
14:45 formal family portraits
15:30 bride is tucked away before ceremony
16:00 ceremony
16:30 guests collect outside
16:45 grand exit and mingle with guests

evening
17:00
cocktail hour begins/guests arrive
17:15 bridal party drives to cocktail hour
17:45 bridal party lines up for grand entrance
18:00 grand entrance into reception
18:05 cutting of the cake
18:10 dinner service
18:40 toasts/dinner continues
19:20 first dances
19:30 open dancing for guests

Next you’ll use the guides in STEP 2 to determine your wedding timeline specifics.

STEP 2: sample timeline

  • How many people are in your bridal party?

  • How many people would you like in your formal family portraits?

  • How many ladies are getting ready with you?

  • Are you having a cocktail hour?

  • Will you have a reveal with your groom?

These five questions are critical to the flow of your day. Using the timeline guide, you’ll see the amount of time needed and how it affects your timeline, leading you to an ideal flow of the wedding day. Moving along to STEP 3 and 4, you’ll build your own personal timeline to use on your wedding day.

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More Planning Resources await you on the blog.

Ready to DISCUSS Your PhotograpHY?

 



young+woman+in+white+top+and+pink+skirt+leaning+on+white+wall+in+spain

“Steph is amazing and a true professional. Our wedding was in Toronto, Canada and we chose 5th Photography simply because of our initial encounter with Steph. We saw her photograph a close friend’s wedding and her attentiveness, personality and photographs made it clear we’d hire her for our wedding as well. She kept everyone smiling while keeping the attention on us. She’ has magic with people. Throughout the process, the service and attentiveness we received were well beyond expectation. You’ll love her and the photos she creates.”

— JENNIFER & PETER

  

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