CREATING YOUR IDEAL WEDDING DAY TIMELINE

WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY PLANNING SERIES PART I • TOP TIPS FROM ORLANDO WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER 


Bride & Groom laughing at their Casa Feliz Winter Park Wedding during the ceremony, coordinated by Adore Amor Wedding Planning

It's the best day ever, and the busiest day ever! Here are some tips for helping you figure out how to figure out photography timing to cover the experiences, traditions and events you'd love to incorporate into your wedding day. As modern brides, you have the luxury or choosing from countless cultural traditions or creating your own. 

Everyone has different ideas of what a wedding day should, can or must be. I'd love to help bring your specific vision about- which is quite an adventure considering that you've never married your fiancé before. Here are some important elements that go into creating beautiful wedding photos. You can include them in your day, or not! 


Wedding Day Timeline Examples

 

    MORNING BRUNCH WEDDING TIMELINE

    Morning weddings are lovely, and until recently were actually pretty much the norm, Also—who doesn’t love brunch food? Or an excuse to drink champagne. Here’s a sample morning wedding timeline:

    • 7:00am // Hair and makeup starts
    • 8:30am // Vendors arrive/Setup starts
    • 9:00am // First look and couple’s portraits
    • 9:30am // Family & wedding party group photos
    • 9:30am // Guests begin to arrive
    • 10:00am // Invite time
    • 10:15 am // Ceremony starts
    • 10:45am // Ceremony concludes
    • 10:45am // Cocktail “hour” starts/Additional family photos
    • 11:30am // Brunch starts
    • 12:15pm // Toasts
    • 1:00pm // First dance
    • 1:30pm // Cake cutting/Dessert
    • 2:45pm // Couple departs
    • 3:00pm // Guests depart
    • 3:00pm // Breakdown commences
    • 4:00pm // All vendors out

    EARLY AFTERNOON WEDDING TIMELINE

    Afternoon weddings are a happy medium, and they can work especially well for all-outdoor events. Not only do you not have to get up super early, but afternoon weddings still leave enough time for just the two of you to go out for dinner. (Seriously, if your reception is a meal other than dinner, and you’re not planning on hanging out with your guests later, please build room in your budget to take yourselves out to a lovely meal somewhere.) This is also a very kid-friendly timeline, which may be important to you if there are lots of small people in your life:

    • 9:00am // Hair and makeup starts
    • 9:30am // Vendors arrive/Setup starts
    • 9:30am // Getting ready photos start
    • 10:00am // First look and couple’s portraits
    • 10:45am // Family pictures
    • 11:00am // Guests begin to arrive
    • 1:00pm // Invite time
    • 1:15pm // Ceremony starts
    • 1:35pm // Ceremony concludes
    • 1:40pm // Cocktail “hour” starts/Additional family photos
    • 2:30pm // Lunch starts
    • 3:00pm // Toasts
    • 3:30pm // First dance
    • 5:00pm // Cake cutting/Dessert served, Bouquet Toss/ Garter Toss/ Shoe Game
    • 6:15pm // Dancing 
    • 6:30pm // Last Dance
    • 7:00pm // Grand exit send off- sparklers, bubbles, confetti canons, etc!

    WEDDING DAY TIMELINE WITH A 4PM START TIME

    This is a popular set up for many venues, and includes a first look! This creates a very relaxing, cruisy wedding day that feels just right! 

    • 10:00am // Hair and Makeup/Getting ready
    • 12:00–2:00pm // Most vendors arrive for setup
    • 1:00pm// First Look!
    • 2:00pm // Wedding party and family photos start
    • 3:30pm // Guests begin to arrive/Pre-ceremony music starts
    • 4:00pm // Invite time
    • 4:15pm // Ceremony starts
    • 4:35pm // Ceremony ends
    • 4:40pm // Cocktail hour starts
    • 5:45pm // Move guests into dinner
    • 6:00pm // Dinner is served
    • 6:30pm // Toasts begin while guests are enjoying dinner
    • 7:30pm // First dance
    • 7:35pm // General dancing music starts
    • 8:00pm // Second set of pre-sunset portraits
    • 8:15pm // Cake cutting/Dessert served, Bouquet Toss/ Garter Toss/ Shoe Game
    • 8:3pm // Open dancing
    • 9:45pm // Final dance
    • 10:00pm // Grand exit send off- sparklers, bubbles, confetti canons, etc!
    • 11:00pm // Breakdown done, all staff departs

    6PM Evening Wedding Ceremony Timeline

    Evening is a very romantic time for your wedding, but also comes with some lighting challenges, depending on what time of year it is and when the sun sets. The first thing you should do is check the sunset time on your day. If you want to have all of your photos be bright and sunny, this is not for you! However, if you enjoy the cozy atmosphere of the evening, and want a good sleep in on your wedding day, this is just the ticket! It's highly recommended for you to do a first look, so you can have a bit of daylight for your some couples & group photos before the sun sets during your ceremony/ cocktail hour. Getting your group photos done before makes it much easier to gather everyone- less time spent looking for the groomsman or family members who headed to the open bar!

    • 12:00pm // Hair and makeup start
    • 3:00pm // Photographer arrives for detail & getting ready photos
    • 3:45pm // Bride gets into gown, Groom gets dressed
    • 4:00pm // First look
    • 4:30pm-5:30pm // Group Photos- Bridal party & Family
    • 5:30pm // Guests begin to arrive
    • 6:00pm // Invite time
    • 6:30pm // Ceremony starts
    • 7:00pm // Ceremony ends/Guests move to cocktail hour - Couple does sunset photos (depending on sunset time!)
    • 8:00pm // Dinner is served & Toasts begin
    • 9:30pm // Cake cutting/Dessert served, Bouquet Toss/ Garter Toss/ Shoe Game
    • 9:45pm // Dancing
    • 11:45pm // Final Dance
    • 12:00am // Grand Exit- Sparklers, Bubbles, confetti, etc.!

    Timing for Each part of your Wedding Day

    This list helps give you an idea of how much time it takes for your wedding photographer to photograph each part of the day, and includes some great tips I have learned in my years of photographing weddings and bridal sessions in Winter Park, Orlando, Wekiva, Clermont, St.Pete, Maine, and Colombia. These are just estimates and tips based on an 8hr wedding day. If you are planning a shorter wedding day, and have your photographer from 3-6hrs there are a lot of creative ways to approach things and save time. The absolute best time saver is planning your wedding prep, getting dressed, first look, ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception all in the same venue! If you're looking for spots like this in the Orlando area, I recommend Casa Feliz, The Bramble Tree Estate, or the Courtyard at Lake Lucerne. These are all boutique wedding venues that have gorgeous bridal suites and lovely ceremony and reception spaces so you, your guests, and your photographer don't have to be packing things into a car and driving during your wedding day. The other great way to optimize your time is to organize a list of family & group photos you'd like and take these photos after you first look before your ceremony. 

    All of my brides & grooms who have done this rave about how easy it made the day, and how much they loved going straight into their couples photos after the ceremony to capture that amazing energy of the moment! When you have to stand through 30mins to an hour of family and wedding party photos afterwards it definitely takes more time, since it's hard to keep everyone in the same area (people wander into cocktail hour, understandably!).

    Casa di Bella Windermere Bridal Boutique Lace Gown
    wedding ring band

    DRESS, RING & DETAILS

    Timeframe Needed: 30 mins

    Location: Bride & Groom Prep venue 

    Time of day: Morning, before/ during getting ready

    Photographer's Top Tip for Detail & memento photography: Have all of your accessories laid out in areas for the Bride, Maid of honor, etc. This includes your flowers, dress, ring, shoes, jewelry and any other fun little details or mementos you'd like to include. 

    BRIDE & GROOM GETTING READY

    Timeframe Needed: 30 mins

    Location: Bride & Groom Prep venue 

    Time of day: Morning, before/ during getting ready

    Photographer's Top Getting Ready Tip: Keep a part of the room tidy- especially near a window, where the bride can get into her gown without tote bags, waterbottles and hairdryers flying everywhere. :)

    Sneak Peak- Vintage Glam Casa Feliz Wedding Spring 2017- Jamie Claire + Ben 67.jpg
    dapper groom style at his wedding at the Casa Feliz historic home in winter park

    INDIVIDUAL PORTRAITS

    Timeframe Needed: 30 mins

    Location: Bride & Groom Prep venue 

    Time of day: Morning, before/ during getting ready

    Photographer's Top Tip for Bridal & Groom Portraits: Don't forget the details- make sure you have your bouquet, or boutonniere on for these photos so they can fully capture you looking your best!

    Angie & Joel take a moment to pray together before their ceremony begins underneath one of the beautiful ancient live oak trees in downtown Orlando's Langford Park.

    Angie & Joel take a moment to pray together before their ceremony begins underneath one of the beautiful ancient live oak trees in downtown Orlando's Langford Park.

    Bramble Tree Estate wedding where the bride and groom exchange letters around a door

    THE FIRST LOOK & FIRST COUPLES PHOTOS

    Timeframe Needed: 45 mins

    Ideal location: Gardens, lakesides, nearby parks, courtyards, beaches, etc.- scenic and somewhat private from busy onlookers is helpful too!

    Time of day: Morning, early afternoon

    Photographer's Top Tip for your First Look & Couples photos: Choose a private, shaded outdoor area for beautiful light, and plenty of space to be yourselves. 

    Longboat Key Club wedding party of bridesmaids in gold sequin mermaid dresses and orchid and white rose bouquets by Victoria Blooms and groomsmen in black tie suits by Hugo Boss

    YOUR BEST FRIENDS: WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS

    Timeframe Needed: 45-60 mins

    Ideal location: Gardens, lakesides, nearby parks, courtyards, beaches, etc.- scenic and somewhat private from busy onlookers is helpful too!

    Time of day: Morning, early afternoon

    Photographer's Top Tip for Fun Wedding Party Group Photos: Have fun! Plan these before the wedding so your bridesmaids & groomsmen can join the cocktail hour fun!

    Bramble Tree Estate wedding with family portraits with the bride and groom after the ceremony

    YOUR FAMILY: IMMEDIATE FAMILY GROUP PHOTOS

    Timeframe Needed: 30 mins

    Ideal location: Gardens, lakesides, nearby parks, courtyards, beaches, etc.- scenic and somewhat private from busy onlookers is helpful too!

    Time of day: Morning, early afternoon

    Photographer's Top Tip for Relaxing Family Group Photos: Start with your grandparents, groups with smaller children and larger family groups first so they can be dismissed and aren't waiting around. Make a family photo list for your photographer so she knows what group is up next. Schedule these before the wedding, so it's easy to have people meet up at a certain time instead of sending out search parties for Aunt Thelma after the wedding! :)

    Orchid & Willow archway by Victoria Blooms at Bobby + Brett's Longboat Key Club wedding on the beach.

    Orchid & Willow archway by Victoria Blooms at Bobby + Brett's Longboat Key Club wedding on the beach.

    CEREMONY SITE & AISLE STYLE

    Timeframe Needed: 30 mins

    Ideal location: Your ceremony venue- outdoor areas- gardens, forests, parks, courtyards, beaches, lakesides, under a live oak tree, etc. 

    Time of day: Afternoon, early evening

    Photographer's Top Tip For Photographing your Ceremony Site: Hire a planner like Lindsay Feist of Adore Amor in Orlando, and have their team style things for you so things are all ready on time! 

    Sean & Claire's rustic Bramble Tree Estate wedding ceremony on the green lawn next to some lovely live oak trees.

    Sean & Claire's rustic Bramble Tree Estate wedding ceremony on the green lawn next to some lovely live oak trees.

    WEDDING CEREMONY 

    General Timeframe Needed:  30-45 mins

    Ideal location: Your ceremony venue- outdoor areas- gardens, forests, parks, courtyards, beaches, lakesides, under a live oak tree, etc. 

    Time of day: Afternoon is the most common, but the choice of when to have your wedding ceremony is up to you. The time you choose affects the flow of your whole day, since it's the big moment that changes your life forever! If you're not sure when to set your ceremony, look up the Sunset time for your date and think about how you want to use the daylight hours for spending time with guests in a cocktail hour, and of course for your photos.

    Photographer's Top Tip for photographing your Wedding Ceremony: Immerse yourself in the moment- feel each word of your vows, and enjoy! Also, a little extra kiss at the end of the aisle is beautiful- since it captures you two with all of your guests behind you!  We photographers also love the festive atmosphere of having your guests toss rose petals, ecofetti (eco-friendly & biodegradable in a variety of colors!) or dried lavendar for your final walk down the aisle! 

    ROMANTIC BRIDE & GROOM SUNSET PORTRAITS

    Timeframe Needed: 45 mins

    Ideal Location: Venue garden, beach, park, forest, field, natural, lakeside or secluded areas preferred.

    Time of day: GOLDEN HOUR- the hour before sunset is ideal!

    Photographer's Top Tip for Romantic Sunset Bride & Groom Portraits: Choosing the best evening light is ideal for this session, so we can create signature portraits of you two as a couple.
    Why this matters: Hello golden hour & magical light! This is my favorite time of the day to create stunning signature portraits of my couples in the first few hours of their marriage. Making time during your reception for a chance to be alone together will help slow down the pace of a day that flies by, and give us a chance to create some gorgeous photos for you in the process!

    Erica & Aaron's enchanting powder blue & eucalyptus inspired wedding at the Casa Feliz Historic Home, with floral design by Simply Roses and decor by Kristy Rapp Events.

    Erica & Aaron's enchanting powder blue & eucalyptus inspired wedding at the Casa Feliz Historic Home, with floral design by Simply Roses and decor by Kristy Rapp Events.

    RECEPTION VENUE & DETAILS

    General Timeframe Needed:  20 mins

    Ideal location: Ceremony Venue

    Ideal time of day:  20 mins before guests arrive to the reception

    Photographer's Top Tip for Photographing Reception decor: Let your vendors know your photographer will be photographing the reception before guests arrive, and to have everything ready 20 mins before they enter for dinner

    downtown Orlando romantic night wedding kiss bridge streetlights city

    NIGHT PORTRAITS

    Timeframe Needed: 5-15 mins

    Ideal Locations: Areas near your reception with large live oak trees, fountains, mirrors, unique lighting, historic streets, or some unique feature of your reception area like wine barrels at a winery, historic bar, etc.

    Time of day: Night!

    Photographer's Top Tip for Unique Night Bride & Groom Portraits: This is a fun time to create a signature couples portrait of you two, that captures the magic and ambiance of the night atmosphere. 

    Hilton Daytona Beach wedding sparkler exit send off inspiration ideas

    THE GRAND EXIT

    Timeframe Needed: 15 mins

    Ideal Locations: Reception entrance areas, stairway entrances, pedestrian streets, etc.

    Time of day: last event of the day

    Exit ideas: rose petals, lavendar buds, paper lanterns, eco friendly artificial rose petals, eco friendly Eco friendly confetti or Ecopetals (looks dreamy and made from eco friendly rice!), Sparklers, bubbles, birdseed, hooray flags/ ribbons, candles (with paper holders), eucalyptus leaves, beach balls, streamers in your wedding colors.

    Photographer's Top Tip for creating a fun & unique Wedding Grand Exit experience: If you're choosing a fiery option, be sure to have plenty of lighters on hand, and be safe! If you're choosing to throw confetti, streamers, etc choose something that is eco and animal friendly. And most of all choose something you think will be fun! 


    I hope these sample wedding photography timelines, and my expert tips have helped inspire you for planning your very own timeline. When you book me as your wedding photographer we will be working closely to help you plan for your ideal wedding day- so you can enjoy it as much as possible! If you have any timeline questions, feel free to give me a call, or email your questions.

    In light + love,

     

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