You know I love to help wherever I can. One of the most helpful things I can think to put out there is a wedding timeline. How are you to know the flow of a wedding if you haven't been to hundreds of them yourself?
If you're planning your own wedding (which you know I don't recommended unless you're a planner already and even then, hire a coordinator for your day at least), one of the main things to structure your planning around is your timeline. This is something on which I go back and forth with my couples until they've got one they're comfy with.
A photographer is a great person to plan your timeline with (if not a planner) because they have a great understanding of natural light and how much of it is needed per important event throughout your day.
I will start with the timeline of an average 8 hour wedding and then finish with the timeline of a 3 hour elopement. These can act as a baseline for you to gain understanding of the allotments of time you'll need to account for.
An 8 Hour Photo Package Wedding Timeline (Based around a Queensland Springtime sunset, shift the times to suit your local sunset time for that time of the year).
Let's use a fake couple named Sam & Alex.
8am - Hair and makeup begins if you're having a wedding party. (Consult HUMA for start time).
1pm - Photographer arrives and the package starts: Shoot Sam's preparation (prep). 30 minutes is required. Allow for travel time.
1:50pm - Shoot Alex's prep. 1 hour photography is needed - there are more details to shoot. If Alex is having hair and makeup done, the photographer should start toward the tail end of this. No one likes pre / early makeup photos.
2:50pm - Be ready to leave prep location. Your Photographer needs to leave before you to set up at the location and take venue shots. Account for travel.
3pm -Sam arrives at venue (photographer arrives shortly after)
3:20pm - Alex arrives at venue
3:30pm - Ceremony begins
4pm - Ceremony concludes - mingle with your guests, they want to hug and kiss you.
4:15 - Family photos (depending on the size of your wedding this can take 10-30 minutes.
4:45pm - 1 hour for portraits with your wedding party then just the two of you.
5:45pm - make your way back to the reception area or venue and take 10 mins alone together to soak it all in before heading into the reception. This also allows your photo team to set up video cameras for speeches.
6:00pm - Reception begins and MC introduces couple and housekeeping rules - drinks arrive.
6:10pm - First speech (maximum 5 mins per speech unless it's epic).
6:15pm - Second speech as entrees arrive.
6:45pm - Third speech as entrees are cleared and mains begin to arrive
6:50pm - Fourth speech as mains are arriving.
7:50pm - Couple's speech as mains are being cleared
8pm - Cake cutting if you're having one
8:05pm - First dance / and or dance with parents.
8:15pm - This is the time for anything else like bouquet toss, garter etc.
8:20pm - kick off dance floor, your photographer will get some party shots and then head off around 9pm.
The benefit of having the photo-specific events earlier in the evening is that you don't need to book your photographer for 10 hours unless you are having a huuuuuge wedding and all the photo-time allotments need to be longer, thus pushing other events later into the evening. If you are having a wedding with over 100 people, I recommend booking a 10 hour package. If your venue or catering require more time, you will also need a longer package for this. Everything takes longer than it is supposed to on a wedding day. Everyone wants to hug you at any chance they get and when 100 people want to hug you, you move slowly haha.
A 3 Hour Photo Package Elopement Timeline (Again, based around a Queensland Springtime sunset, shift the times to suit your local sunset time for that time of the year).
We will use Will & Grace (pictured above) as our example. This is also based around the couple getting prepped at the same location in different rooms which is typically right near the ceremony location too. If it is a bit of a drive, see if your photographer will add however long that drive is to your package.
2pm - Grace begins hair and makeup
2:30 - Photo package begins, your photographer can capture 10 minutes with Will being all cute and nervous.
2:45pm - Your photographer can capture 15 minutes with Grace getting prepped before your photographer leaves for the ceremony spot to set up video cameras and take location shots.
3:30 - Ceremony begins
4pm - Hugs, a champagne and family photos (there are 0-20 guests max at an elopement)
4:30pm - Portrait session begins
5:30pm - Leave to join guests (if any) at your dinner / mini-reception venue. Photography package finishes.
With elopement packages it is also typical for only one of the members getting married to choose to have their prep captured to allow more time for it without extending the package.
It is also normal for couples to ask to extend their package if needed. Your photographer should come back to you with an adjusted price. Your expectations of the amount of images your photographer can capture in such a short time during prep at an elopement need to be realistic. You also need to have detail shot items (shoes, invitations, accessories, rings) gathered, ready for your photographer.
So that's it! I hope you found that helpful as a guide at the very least. Timelines vary depending on the venue and their reception rules and on photographers and how long they require but you always get input! It's your wedding.
Here is a link to one of my fave planner / stylist / coordinators, Haus of Hera.
Pictured blooms by Bloodwood Botanica.
Table styling by Style Le Aisle.
Venue: Deux Belettes.