How to Plan Your Wedding Day Timeline

For the couple who needs insight and some things to consider on how this whole ‘wedding timeline thing’ works from a veteran Detroit Wedding Photographer

When it comes time to plan your wedding day timeline, the primary focus is on seamlessly capturing the unfolding day and creating an unforgettable guest experience. Of course, this is undeniably about you, it’s also a celebration, and embracing the entirety of the experience is key.

Let’s talk about all the angles to consider when you get ready to plan your wedding day timeline.

how to plan your wedding day timeline

This is Your Day, Make it What You Want

There’s no need to rush or worry about time constraints, as your photographer I will work along side you in guiding the process of planning your wedding day timeline. We keep in mind not only your unique vision but, also consider the time of year and the specific location of your wedding. It ensures a harmonious blend of capturing the essential moments while making the most sense.

Things to Consider When You Plan Your Wedding Day Timeline

First Look or waiting to see each other down the aisle?

It is the question lately, and it extends beyond personal intimacy. The genuine moments of touching, hugging, and kissing create a moment of relief before the day begins. It’s up to you, but most of my couples keep this to a “them only” moment. If you tend to be more anxious, this will help settle your nerves before the big moment at the ceremony.

Having that moment before it all begins to just… be, is beautiful.

bride and groom kissing under veil on wedding day.

If you are concerned that it might take away from the anticipation of seeing your partner walk down the aisle, from what we hear – and from personal experience, it did not at all. It was a huge highlight! And besides, it is so hard to be away from your person for long on such an exciting day!

This choice serves as one of three portrait sessions strategically spaced throughout the day, allowing you to remain fully present without being consumed by lengthy photo sessions. Trust me, you want to have a break from non-stop smiling for pictures!

Keep it Traditional, For Me, Please

For those choosing to wait until the ceremony, it’s a valid choice, particularly well-suited for smaller wedding parties. However, it’s essential to be aware that this may result in a tighter schedule. If missing the cocktail hour aligns with your vision, then it’s a choice that complements your preferences.

What about the Ceremony Time?

Considering the timing of your ceremony is not only about lighting but also prioritizing the comfort of both you and your guests. During warmer seasons, a later ceremony is optimal for comfort, while an earlier ceremony in the fall maximizes the use of evening light. For outdoor ceremonies, scheduling wedding party photos before the ceremony preserves the freshness of outfits, hair, and makeup. This thoughtful approach not only enhances the overall guest experience but also allows you to transition to the party sooner, minimizing post-ceremony obligations.

In case you didn’t know, (especially in the warmth of a Michigan summer), having a backup button-down shirt ensures comfort for both the couple and guests. This small consideration can make a significant difference in ensuring everyone enjoys the celebration without any discomfort. And is something you can add to your suit rental.

Family Photos, How Do We Do It?

Once your Ceremony is finished, this is typically the time when we go right into family photos. If you have a large family and a big wedding party- it is easiest to make a list for both sides of your family and write them in the groups you need, from largest to smallest. This ensures that they can essentially be “roll called”, each photo takes approximately 2-5 minutes to set up, and get everyone posed. We want to fly through this as quickly as possible. Pro-tip: Give the family a heads up, and a couple of reminders beforehand that we need them to stay as close as possible to the ceremony location so we can easily find everyone to get started once the processional is completed and you can make your way back to the location to get photos started.

Side note: Most people are doing away with a receiving line for the simple fact that it takes up quite a bit of time that you could be utilizing for family photos, and getting to the party yourselves!

Wedding Party and Couples’ Portraits

This is where the multiple smaller “sessions” come in. We don’t want anyone to get burned out, especially you two – there are lots of photos to take, but we do not want it to feel that way. You enjoying the day and being with your family and and friends is the most important part.

If you chose to do the first look; you may have chosen to also do the wedding party photos before the ceremony and so from the ‘Family Photos’ this is where you could choose;

Finishing up a few portraits of just you two before joining the cocktail hour.

OR, heading straight to it!

Visiting the cocktail hour is so fun! It’s an opportunity to be present with your guests who are so excited to see you! After all, why miss out on a portion of the day you’re investing in? It’s a chance to soak in the joy, share laughter, and be part of the celebration from start to finish.

If you chose to do all portraits after the ceremony, this is the time we would be wrapping up the wedding party and couples’ portraits before doing the Grand Entrance to the Reception!

The Reception – IT’S PARTY TIME

When you plan your wedding day timeline, your reception is a big highlight of the day!

bride and groom cutting their cake on their wedding day

Do you want to come in for your Grand Entrance, and do a little dance on the floor for everyone? Then head straight to cut the cake!? That’s a great way to get it done! Once you’ve completed that you can get to your head table, and get speeches, toasts, and dinner rolling! As you’ve finished with dinner, we can sneak outside to finish up the last bit of portraits – this would be during golden hour.

bride and groom hugging on a rooftop in Grand Rapids at Golden Hour

As I said before, there are many ways to plan out your day. There is no wrong way!

Let’s come up with the best plan to suit your vision. Connect with me here.

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