Apr 15, 2018

Free Wedding Day Timeline | Template

I always help my couples create a stressfree and relaxed wedding day timeline and remind them of things to take into consideration when planning for the big day. From getting ready to the first dance. Today I’m sharing my thoughts concerning the start of the day. At the end of this post, I have a free bonus for you. It’s a simple timeline template that you can download and edit easily.

Light is everything!

Find a space with plenty of natural light and neutral colors for you and your bridesmaids to get ready in. Preferably a large room so it won’t feel cramped. There has to be suitable space for hair and makeup, but also enough room to have your bridesmaids help you get into the dress. As a photographer, I want to be able to move around and get photos from several different angles if possible. A well lit and large room is best for bridal prep

A Stressfree Wedding Day Timeline

Sweatpants No thanks! Make sure your bridesmaids are ready and changed before they help you with the dress. You don’t want the girls wearing sweatpants in your bridal photos. Add some extra time for this part of the day if hair and makeup run late, especially if you have a large bridal party. It’s better to feel relaxed than rushed.

White bridal shoes with adornments

Example Wedding Day Timeline With First Look

This timeline is ideal if you are having a first look and want to have family formals done before the ceremony. Don’t know what a first look is? A first look is something we organize. It’s a private rendezvous between the couple so they get to see each other before the ceremony.  It can be done in a number of ways. Typically either the bride or the groom walks up to the other and taps them on the shoulder. By having a first look the bride and groom get to enjoy a beautiful (and often emotional) moment in private.First look helps calm the nervesPros 

Calms the nerves a bit and that helps with photos a whole lot! Our couple get to spend time together before the ceremony and partake a special moment AND I have time to photograph it. This also makes for an excellent opportunity to capture some candid portraits. In a traditional wedding day timeline, a bride and groom wouldn’t see each other until the ceremony, much later in the day.  The period between the ceremony and dinner doesn’t have to drag out. Most of the photographs are already done, the reception can start faster. For winter weddings this is a must since we loose light so early.Groom with groomsmen looking coolCons

The day starts much earlier and if we are going to shoot almost all of the photographs before the ceremony, the bridal party and family has to be ready much earlier in the day. Also, the quality of the light is not as good as later in the day. The lower the sun is in the sky, the softer and more beautiful light. The best light is closer to sunset.

How much time is needed?

I need a minimum of 2 hours for the getting ready part of the day. If you have a large bridal party, add more time. If you want to have both the bride’s and the groom’s preparations photographed, add even more time. Things can’t be forced and sometimes I need a lot of time to just wait for the right moment. They just don’t happen on a schedule. Your photographer isn’t lazy. If he or she just stands silently in a corner watching what unfolding, via the viewfinder, they are waiting for that decisive moment when to press the shutter.

A first look can be 10 minutes or an hour. It depends on how much time you want to add for creative photos. Calculate with at least 30 min in your wedding day timeline. An additional hour for bridal party photos and family formals is needed, especially if you don’t have any timeslot for that during cocktail hour.

Example Timeline

10.00 I arrive and start photographing the venue. After that, I go to the bride and shoot the details such as the invitation stationery, rings, shoes, jewelry, the dress etc.

11.00 I start photographing the groom prep, approximately 30 minutes.

11.30 I go to the bride’s room and document the bride prep, hair and makeup and the bridesmaids typically make a toast.

12.30 Dress on! The bridesmaids fully ready and helps the bride get into the dress. The bride then puts on jewelry and shoes. Here’s the ideal time to photograph a few bridal portraits!

13.00 First look with bride and groom and a short creative session.

13.30 Bridal party photos with bride and groom

14.30 Family formals

If you have a large bridal party add 30 more minutes. If you plan to have more than 5-6 family formal photos done, add 30 more minutes.

Next time I’ll get a bit more into explaining how I plan and shoot the rest of the day when I start early. There will be a follow up with an example wedding day timeline when you opt not to have a first look and schedule the bridal party photos and family formals later in the day. Download the free template here!

Want to read more tips from me, you might want to check this out Why I Love Outdoors Weddings

xoxo, Isabelle

Bridesmaids dressed in pink gowns with the bride having fun.


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