Wedding day timeline assistance!

A wedding timeline can be intimidating, but never fear I am here to help!  Even if you’re not my client….. Yet.  😉

I offer all my clients a sit down meeting either over the phone or in person to go over the day’s photography timeline in greater detail.  We will most likely scout out your venue for some epic locations for your photos.  But this is a great place to start when thinking about your day.

Even if you’ve attended a lot of weddings, you probably haven’t paid much attention to how long each individual aspect lasted (Unless you end up sitting in direct sun at 1:00pm in July). Getting started can be the toughest part, so I put together a template for a 10 hour photography coverage day.  This is a great starting point for you to start your timeline process.

wedding party, London, Ontario, Kitchener, wedding, photographer

The first thing we’re going to do is get our mindset right. 

The timeline is just a guideline.  Say it with me now!  Just a guideline.   Your wedding will not fall to pieces if it runs a little bit ahead or behind. In fact, most weddings stray by at least fifteen to twenty minutes (if not more) from the timeline at different points during the day.  But we’ll plan for that.   We might move the first look time ahead by 20 minutes because hair and makeup are a little behind ( totally worth it! ) We might move up the first dance because everyone finished eating early. The most important thing to remember is that your guests will be having so much fun they’ll never even notice.  Making sure you’re at the ceremony on time ( ish ) is the only really important timing of the day.


With all of that said, the day of you should definitely put someone else in charge of following the wedding timeline. I’ll be there keeping us on schedule for the photography, but a day of coordinator can keep all the other details of  the day running smoothly.  You want to be having so much fun that you hardly notice what time it is.

Again, these examples are just guidelines.  And your day isn’t a one size fits all.  That’s why it’s important to talk with all your vendors to discuss timing.  Are you having a Catholic mass ceremony?  We’ll need to factor that in.  Is your reception hall a forty minute drive from the beach side ceremony?  Factor that drive in! 

Wedding day with a 4pm ceremony.

For this example it will be for one photographer only.  For days that include two the only difference will be my second shooter would be with the guys for the morning.

This is an example of a day where the ceremony and the reception are at the same location with a first look.  Which I highly recommend by the way.  ( blog post to follow on why )  

10:00 a.m.—Hair and makeup / Getting ready
12:00–2:00 p.m.—Photographer arrives to the bridal location
2:00 p.m.—First look and a short Bride and Groom portrait session.
3:30 p.m.—Doors open to the ceremony
4:00 p.m.—Guests find their seats
4:05 p.m.—Ceremony starts
4:25 p.m.—Ceremony ends
4:30 p.m.—Family photos ( use the list I provided so we don’t miss anyone )
5:00p.m. —Wedding party photos, and Bride and Groom portraits
5:50 p.m.—Grand entrance, Guests seated
6:00 p.m.—Dinner served – get those carbs in for dancing later!
6:20 p.m.—Everyone has their food
6:30 p.m.—Speeches ( try and keep them to a time limit )
7:30 p.m.—First dance(s)
7:35 p.m.—Get the party started!
8:00 p.m.— Sneak out for Golden hour photos
8:30 p.m.—Dessert
9:00 p.m.—Work in those dancing shoes.
9:55 p.m.—Did someone say poutine?
10:00 p.m.—Time for the photographer to head out!



Sometimes having a time gap between the ceremony and reception is unavoidable.  While these gaps are not ideal, they aren’t uncommon, or even that difficult to deal with. We will skip the first look in the early afternoon, or shorten the time that i’m with you in the morning. Then we’ll get all the photos we need after the ceremony.  With any extra time we have we’ll spend it with your guests and get the party started early!  Afternoon sangria’s anyone!?

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Some FAQ’s about your timeline

Should we have a receiving line?

They aren’t nearly as popular as when your parents got married.  They can be very time consuming, especially for a medium/large wedding guest list. It can also get very exhausting and they take away from the burst of excitement right after the ceremony. However, I do love the energy right after you walk down the aisle, and your wedding party or family walks out and greets you, hugs you, kisses you, etc. So having a few minutes there to laugh and love is great. I just recommend that it not become a 20-40 minute event. Of course, its up to you and I’ll work around your schedule.

When do speeches happen?

I really encourage people to do toasts during dinner: you have a captive audience, and people are in a headspace to be attentive, plus you don’t have to carve separate time out of the day for them to happen. I suggest waiting until guests have had a bit of time to eat, if possible, before getting the speeches started ( 20 minutes or so ) . Make sure to tell the catering staff that they should continue to serve, clear, etc., while people are speaking (they’re good at doing this discreetly).  

When should we do our wedding photos?

Truth is we should try and break it up to a few different times during the day if possible.  If we go for the non-traditional first look then we can get some formals of the two of you then.  And then we can get some in after we get all the wedding party photos in.  Evening light is so much nicer to photograph in so the more we keep the bulk of your photos away from 12-3 window the better.

Why a sunset session?

This can vary depending on the time of year that your wedding is.  But if we can sneak away for 10 minutes it’s a great way to add diversity to your wedding gallery.  And to be honest it’s the best light of the day for photos.  I personally love to shoot 15-30 minutes prior to the sunset.  You get that dreamy soft light.  There is a reason it’s called the golden hour!

How do we make the most out of our photography time?

I find the best way to do this, is for everyone who is involved in the formal photography of the day to be given an idea of what time and the location of the photos they’re expected to be in.  Letting the wedding party know they only have 20 minutes to get all the photos of them done will help keep them on track.

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Is your engagement session coming up soon!?  Have a look at my blog post on how to Rock your engagement session!

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