How to Plan Your Wedding Day Timeline

For the couple who just needs a little insight on how this whole ‘wedding timeline thing’ works.

Bride and Groom kissing in front of a castle at Wilder Creek Nature center.

My Personal Approach

For me, starting with ‘Golden Hour’ portraits, ceremony time, and when the reception and dinner starts are the key components we need to coordinate your timeline. And you will definitely want those sunset photos, trust me. The most beautiful lighting – no matter what time of year it is. But especially during our Midwest Wedding season; May – October.

Bride and Groom dancing during their portrait time with Detroit Wedding Photographer, Magan Rogers.

There are a few ways you can go about getting the perfect glowy-golden goodness. Plan your cermeony about two hours before sunset, do immediate family photos and then your wedding party photos at that time. Or, if you are having an earlier ceremony you can schedule a time to go out during your reception for 15-20 minutes of portrait time. (I love doing that the most because you get a chance to spend some time together just taking in the whole day’s experience.)

First Look or Down The Aisle, That Is The Question

Doing a first look is always something I encourage. It’s the most intimate moment you’ll have during the day where all the feelings of excitment and anticipation come to a peak. You can touch, hug and kiss your person – spin each other around and stare in awe at the beauty before you. The person you’re about to spend the rest of your life with. There is rarely a dry eye, from anyone – including myself. This is also one of three portrait times you can have to break it up throughout the day, it helps you feel like you’re more present on your day and less consumed with photo-time.

If you are choosing to wait to see each other until the ceremony, that’s okay too! We will just have a little bit tighter of a schedule, this works best when you have a smaller wedding and not many wedding party attendees.

Bride and Groom during their first look.
Groom crying while seeing his Bride for the first time during their first look.

What time are you having your ceremony?

This does change things, for optimal lighting the closer to sunset you can get; the better. The higher the sun, the more direct lighting, the hotter it is, the more likely of a chance that you could all be standing in the sun (and in a Michigan summer) melting during the ceremony. I want to preserve your appearance for as long as possible, so if we are doing an outdoor ceremony (99% of what I photograph) I’m going to recommend we do your wedding party photos after your ceremony. Your wedding party guests will thank you, especially for our friends in the pants, with a vest, long sleeves, and a suit jacket. *Pro-tip, if you are wearing a white button down, ask your rental place for a backup shirt to change in case you are worried about sweating too much.

Bride walking down the aisle at her indian ceremony outside on the rooftop at the park shelton in Detroit.

Cocktail Hour and Reception Timing

During your cocktail hour we are typically doing the family and wedding party photos. Once we are finished up with your family and wedding party – we send them all back to enjoy the cocktail hour and give us a few minutes to do some portraits before heading up for the ‘Grand Entrance’. Once your wedding peeps’ are announced in you can do it a few ways;

  • While still spinning around and celebrating your arrival to the reception you can go right into your first dance.
  • Cut Your Cake
  • Speeches/Toasts
  • Dinner

This way all of your obligations are crossed off and you will be free to party and mingle the rest of the night, once you’ve finished with your Golden Hour portraits.

Building it backwards will help you have a solid foundation and idea of the days’ events so you can easily sort out the rest of your morning and determine when you need the hair and makeup team to arrive. Talking to your photographer is key, and will ultimately be the final say in what you do with your day and location. If you are in need of some assistance, I will gladly help you. Reach out to me!

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 Serving Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Michigan
 Wedding Photographer