There’s nothing better than a stress-free wedding day when everything runs like clockwork, wedding party and family are on time for photos, your guests are having the time of their lives, and you soak in every special moment with your sweetie. Though it sounds too good to be true, you can have the smooth sailing wedding of your dreams. After years of shooting weddings of all shapes and sizes, we can attest to the fact that your secret weapon to making this happen is a well-planned wedding day timeline.
Maybe you’re sitting there thinking, “I’m such a go-with-the-flow person. I don’t need a timeline!”
I feel you. But consider this: if you have a timeline and everyone is on the same page, then your wedding day will essentially run itself and you can carry on being the easy-breezy you.
For us, wedding day timelines are doubly beneficial. It assures that you can breathe and enjoy your wedding day, and it grants us ample time to capture what we need. We don’t want to miss one detail!
We’ve fine-tuned a schedule here at The Youngrens that has become our foundation for every wedding we shoot. This schedule changes, of course, based on the unique logistics of your particular wedding day, but this is the kind of schedule we always shoot for (pun totally intended.)
- 12:00 We Arrive for Getting Ready Photos & GR Details
- 12:45 All Hair & Makeup Finished (HARD STOP)
- 1:00 Dress On; Final Touches
- 1:30 First Look; Bride & Groom Portraits
- 2:30 Wedding Party
- 3:00 Family Portraits
- 3:30 Photos Finished (Guests Begin to Arrive) / Details, Details!
- 4:00 Ceremony Begins
- 4:30 Ceremony Ends
- 4:40 The Couple (Gravy Time!)
- 5:00 Couple Joins the Cocktail Hour or Freshens Up
- 5:30 Guests are Seated for Dinner
- 5:45 Grand Entrance to Reception
Getting Ready: We always give ourselves plenty of time to shoot getting ready details such as jewelry, shoes, the dress, cufflinks, hair being done, etc. We don’t want to feel rushed, so we build that time into the schedule.
To start the day on time, we also create a HARD STOP for all hair and makeup. This applies to everyone – including bridesmaids and the Mother of the Bride – so that they’ll look fabulous and already dressed in the photos of you putting on your gown.
This also helps your makeup artists and hair stylists know when they need to be done, and it allows for a cushion if something happens to run late.
We also schedule a specific time for your dress to go on, and we allow at least 30 minutes for this. It probably won’t take 30 minutes to put on most dresses, but it allows you to relax as you put it on, slip on jewelry, hug Mom, and laugh with your bridesmaids. Plus, we get to spend a few minutes photographing just you before heading out for the First Look.
First Look: Learn all about how Jeff and I approach the First Look, and how we let you and your fiance relax and enjoy hanging out with each other. We capture so many candid, emotional moments during the First Look simply because we allow time for you to relax, feel your emotions, talk about the day, and live in the moment.
We schedule a full hour of time for your First Look plus your couple portraits before the ceremony, because the two of you are looking your best and feeling your best! This gives you plenty of time to breathe, relax, and enjoy your private time together before the day really sets in motion. This will ground you in what really matters most – the two of you together, celebrating your love with your friends and family!
Also, if worse comes to worse and things run late during the getting ready process, we don’t need to use the full hour of couple time – we have also scheduled some time after the ceremony. We can relax through the first look, grab a few portraits, and just move right into the wedding party portraits and make up some time, if needed.
Wedding Party: You’ve seen your man, your girls look fabulous in their bridesmaid dresses, and your groomsmen are dapper in their suits. These are the friends or family members who you’ve chosen to stand by your side as you begin life as husband and wife.
For our perfect wedding day timeline, we schedule 30 minutes for you to gather in close with your wedding party and show your best smiles for the camera. We snap all the essentials: everyone looking at the camera, full group shots, you with all your girls, your groom with his guys, details of the flowers and accessories, as well as candids of you laughing at your best man’s signature one-liner.
Family Portraits: After we’ve photographed your wedding party, the next step on our wedding day timeline is we schedule 30 minutes to photograph you and your family.
Doing the family portraits BEFORE the ceremony accomplishes a number of amazing things:
- There are no distractions so we can move VERY quickly (no pulling people from the black hole that is the cocktail hour).
- Family can immediately enjoy the cocktail hour and greet wedding guests right after the ceremony.
- We save that amazing light after the ceremony for just you two.
It can be one of the most relaxing and stress-free parts of the day!
The Ceremony: We will be finished with photos at least 30 minutes before your invitation time because that’s when guests will begin to arrive. You will get tucked away so nobody sees you, and we will photograph the beautiful details of your ceremony setup as well as take candids of your guests arriving and mingling.
The only thing you will need to do is freshen up and take a moment to breathe, relax, and reflect on the amazing moment that this is. Because you’ve seen one another already, you will be more relaxed and grounded, which means that you’ll be able to remember the emotional walk down the aisle with clarity and calm!
The Couple: Once the ceremony is over, it’s time for the fun part! Because we’ve taken all of the necessary “have-to-have” images before the ceremony, everything we take during this time is just gravy – and boy is it good gravy! The light will be beautiful, and you can relax and enjoy each other as brand new husband and wife!
Normally we only need to shoot for about half of the cocktail hour, and then you can choose to join your guests– and enjoy those specialty cocktails and appetizers that you picked out – or hide away and spend some time with each other before the craziness of the reception.
If the golden light of sunset doesn’t line up with cocktail hour but instead goes down later in the evening, we’ll schedule on your wedding day timeline a few minutes to sneak away during the reception for the length of a few songs. The 15-20 minutes will be so worth it when you’re basked in the best light of the day with your new husband. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy your wedding day!
Once the reception begins, you’re only job is to HAVE FUN. During dinner, take a moment to pause and savor the sounds of all of your most precious friends and family celebrating together. We’ll be there to capture all of the amazing emotions and moments!
Again, every event has different logistics, but this is the absolute best wedding day timeline (IMHO) based on our years of experience shooting lots of different celebrations.
Our number one rule for any bride and groom? The key to enjoying your day is having a great plan ahead of time. That way the day will run smoothly, and the only thing you will need to focus on is being with each other and savoring every precious moment!