Check out this sample wedding day’s timing and apply it as a template for your own special day!
If you want to fully enjoy your wedding day and beautiful photos, you should think about timing in advance. The more attention you pay to the details, the better. A wedding ceremony usually lasts 30 minutes, or less often — 1 hour. A wedding banquet or reception lasts from 3 to 4.5 hours. I have worked as a professional wedding photographer at 300 weddings and I can offer you a perfect wedding timeline for your special day.
I have written this guide assuming that the ceremony, dinner, and party are being held in the same venue, which means that the guests should not have to walk long distances. Thus, the cocktail hour would begin immediately after the ceremony and group photos and smoothly proceed to the reception. If you decide that the wedding ceremony and the reception are in different places, please add some time to your schedule for the guests to move.
Wedding Day and Reception Timing
This schedule is based on the capture of the light at sunset. This light is the most complimentary for photos, and you can get luxurious shots in sunny weather. You should keep in mind that the time for sunset varies depending on the country and the month of the year. Please check –a reliable weather site for the sun is setting on your wedding day. For example, if sunset is at 9.30, then it’s best to organize your photo session from 08.00 to 09.00.
Contrary to popular belief, a photoshoot under a bright high sun is the worst solution. The high sun in cloudless weather casts deep, harsh shadows on faces and clothes; faces look older, and white bridal dresses will be overexposed.
2 p.m. The bride’s preparation photo session.
The wedding photographer arrives and begins to shoot the details: the bride’s dress, shoes, bouquet, rings, perfume, and garter. He also photographs the completion of the bride’s makeup application and hair-styling. The photographer may sometimes arrive earlier in order to shoot a short photo session of the bride in a boudoir style.
Then the photographer can take pictures of the bridesmaids (the bridal party), all in matching robes, and of the bride’s mother as she helps the bride put her dress on.
When the bride is dressed, the photographer shoots as the maid of honour or the bride’s mom puts on the bride’s jewellery and earrings.
2:45 p.m. Bridal party portraits and bridesmaids’ group photos
3.00 — 3.30 pm The groom’s preparations and groomsmens’ photos
3:30 p.m. First look
This is a wonderful and emotional moment when the groom sees the bride in her wedding attire for the first time. This usually happens away from the guests, in the park or in the garden. Your professional wedding photographer will help you organize this meeting to get the best candid photos.
3.45 — 4.15 Candid photos of guests
4.30 — 05.00 Wedding ceremony
I recommend setting the start time of the ceremony in the invitation to 15 minutes earlier than the real start time. This will allow those who are late to come.
If any special rituals are taking place during your ceremony, please notify your photographer in advance. If one of the newlyweds wants to make a surprise to the other newlywed, this should also be mentioned to the photographer.
The most common mistake made by the bride and the groom during the ceremony is to quickly dress the ring and hide it under their fingers. I always give instructions in advance and explain how to perform the ring exchange ceremony properly and beautifully.
Another common mistake that detracts from taking beautiful photos at the ceremony is a quick and blurry final kiss. Please show that you are enjoying this beautiful romantic moment! Kiss for a long time and with pleasure!
05.15 — 05.30 Big group photo with everyone
05.30 — 06.00 Family and friend group photos
Firstly, I take pictures of the family of the bride, and then the family of the groom; then I take photos with the parents, and then with the grandparents. Sometimes I ask the best man or the maid of honour to help to organize the family group portraits. At the end of the photo session, I ask the newlyweds to form several group photographs of themselves as they wish.
06.00 — 06.30 Bridesmaids and groomsmen photos
06.15 — 07.30 — Cocktail hour
The newlyweds can stay a few minutes with the guests or the bridal party and then go to the couple’s photo session. This will allow the guests to converse and not to get bored while there is a photo session. Invite a DJ or play a playlist with pleasant cocktail music. If my clients have problems with selecting a playlist, I always give them mine with great pleasure.
06.45 — 07.30 The bride and groom photo session
As a professional wedding photographer, I would draw your attention once again to the importance of the light at sunset. Therefore, I suggest you plan your wedding day precisely on the basis of when the sun is setting for a couple’s photo session.
08.00 — 11.00 — Introductions and reception
I will tell you about how to plan your wedding reception in my future publications.