Yay, you’re planning your wedding! The date is set, the venue is locked down, and guests may already be invited. And then comes the daunting task that no engaged couple wants to deal with. . .the timeline. (DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN). But, have no fear!
A note about this first look timeline. . .
Here is a sample first look timeline with some basics to get you started. My photography coverage ranges from 6-10 hours but 90% of my couples choose 8 hours of coverage time so that’s what I’ll be going with here. Keep in mind that no two weddings are alike and this timeline is just a rough sketch of what to expect. Contact your photographer and wedding planner directly to build the perfect timeline for you! *Quick note: I adore wedding planners, I swear they do God’s work keeping weddings on track. However, be sure that you go over your timeline with your photographer and get their input as well as your planner. Photographers have specific things they need out of the wedding timeline that a planner might not think about (lighting, location, etc).*
Also, keep in mind that these times will vary depending on the time of year and sunset time! If you are getting married in the winter months, I highly recommend doing a first look to have more light for portraits. Speaking of first looks. . .
The first look timeline
I’m sure I’ll write a whole blog post about why first looks are the best, but for now, here’s the short and skinny:
1. More time with your guests
If you don’t do a first look, you will have to do all of your portraits after the ceremony, which keeps your guests waiting longer. If you do a first look, almost all of your bridal portraits as well as bridal party photos will be done before the ceremony, so you will have more time to spend with your guests!
2. You get a quiet moment alone
Wedding days go by in a blur. Even with the best made timeline, it gets pretty crazy. As soon as the day begins there is so much to do and so many people to see. Doing a first look will give the two of you a moment alone (with a camera shooting from afar) to soak it all in and think through what the day means to you.
3. Less sneaking around from each other
One of the most stressful part of your wedding day is going through the excitement/stress alone without your person by your side. With a first look, you get to see each other earlier in the day and won’t have to worry about seeing each other accidentally! Plus then you can enjoy the rest of the time before your ceremony together, which is what this day is all about!
And that just scratches the surface! For more reasons why I recommend first looks to all of my couples, read my blog post about it here: Why You Should Consider Doing a First Look. Now, enough chit chat, here’s the sample first look timeline!
12:00 PM – DETAIL SHOTS
1:00 PM – BRIDE GETTING READY
1:30 PM – GROOM GETTING READY
2:00 PM – FIRST LOOK & BRIDAL PORTRAITS
3:30 PM – BRIDAL PARTY PHOTOS (AND MAYBE SOME FAMILY PORTRAITS TOO)
4:30 PM – HIDE COUPLE AWAY
5:00 PM – CEREMONY BEGINS
5:30 PM – FAMILY PHOTOS + COCKTAIL HOUR
6:00 PM – CANDID COCKTAIL HOUR PHOTOS
6:15 PM – PHOTOGRAPH RECEPTION AREA + DETAILS
6:30 PM – RECEPTION BEGINS
6:40 PM – GRAND ENTRANCE
6:45 PM – DINNER IS SERVED
7:15 PM – TOASTS
7:30 PM – SPECIAL DANCES + DANCING
7:45 PM – CAKE CUTTING, BOUQUET, + GARTER TOSS
8:00 PM – EXIT PHOTOS + COVERAGE ENDS
The amount of time needed for these details depends on how much you have! We usually like at least 45 minutes to 1 hour. While we are shooting details, we will also be capturing candid shots of everyone getting ready!
Time to get dressed! For those wearing suits, we will start taking pictures after they are in their pants and shirts. We will take pictures of everyone putting on their ties, vests, shoes, and boutonnieres.
For those wearing dresses, once the wedding party and anyone else helping (usually a parent) is dressed, we will start taking photographs. We will photograph the finishing touches or touch-ups of hair and make-up. Then we photograph you getting in your dress and all the finishing touches: jewelry, veil, shoes, etc.
FIRST LOOK & BRIDAL PORTRAITS
The absolute best part of the day! Once you’re both dressed, I will grab one partner and my hubby/second shooter will grab the other. We’ll pick the perfect, private location for your first look and set it up! Once you have plenty of time to enjoy your moment, we will get right into your bride & groom portraits. We’ll get most of your portraits done here, but we may do some after the ceremony as well to get that gorgeous, sunset light.
BRIDAL PARTY PHOTOS
Ideally, we also will take care of your bridal party portraits before the ceremony as well! After your bride & groom portraits are done, we will gather your party together and celebrate! You’ll get photos of the entire bridal party together, one partner’s side, the other partner’s side, as well as individual photos if desired!
About 30 minutes before the ceremony starts, we’ll hide the couple away so you can take some time together before it gets official. We’ll photograph guests walking into the ceremony and then it’s go-time!
Immediately after the ceremony, we will do family portraits. I generally allow 30 minutes for family photos but that depends on how many groups you want pictures of. I have a future blog post about family portraits coming so keep an eye out!
COCKTAIL HOUR/ADDITIONAL BRIDAL PORTRAITS
Your family and friends will be sent off to cocktail hour once the photos are done. Depending on the day, we may take more bride & groom portraits if necessary. We love to grab the bride and groom away from their cocktail hour/reception for golden hour and sunset portraits.
We pass the lead off to the DJ for the reception and we just go with the flow! We’ll capture the toasts, cake cutting, dances, and any special moments you may have at your reception. We will not, however, photograph during dinner because we will eat at the same time as you and, let’s be honest, no one wants photos of them eating. I recommend not having us photograph more than 1 hour of dancing. Anything more than that gets super repetitive and it’s a waste of your valuable money! If you want fun exit photos, I suggest doing a faux exit about 15 minutes before we leave for the evening. You’ll get way more people to participate than if we waited until the very end of the reception. Trust me, you don’t want super tired (probably drunk) guests holding lit sparklers above your head!
So there you have it!
A sample 8 hour first look timeline to take to your photographer and wedding planner to make yours! And if you don’t have a wedding photographer yet, hit me up and let’s chat!