Wedding Timeline Breakdown
The way your day is built up
Different segments of the day both add up and intertwin to make your wedding what it is.
The whole thing is kind of a puzzle you have to put together really, but for the sake of sanity. We’ll just talk about my favorite part of your coverage... photography. An Excel user would have one up on a lot of brides with organization, but even so. The calculated itinerary doesn’t superseed the organic nature of a wedding day. Experience always plays a part as an ally. The way the whole thing starts can possibly set the tone for the day. So let’s break it down into segments of your day, yes?
- Getting Ready
This is where preparing to look our best for the best day of our lives. At this point Brides and Bridesmaids are getting hair and makeup done. Grooms, don’t really have that much to do when getting ready. The important thing to note is that the hair and makeup is done or wrapping up when the photographer arrives. AT the very least for the bride. If vendors responsibilities overlap to much, things can be very pressing for time.
After all that, comes getting dressed. Now for the photographer, that person will need to know whether or not the details matter to you. Such as rings, dress, shoes, boutonnieres, along with everything else. Additional requests like, ladies in robes or the gentlemen with family members take time.
Then we get to the individual portraits. This is when you are your freshest throughout the entire day. No rain, wind or snow is going to interfere with how snazzy you look. Gotta take a picture of it for sure. Each photographer may have different requirement for this portion. So it’s good to confirm the minimum time needed. Here’s just my suggested time requirement.
Groomsmen: 30 minutes to 1 hour
Brides: Between 1 hour to 2 hours
- Travel time to the ceremony.
Always good to add a bit of safe cushion in case people are having a hard time getting situated or arriving to the transporting vehicle. You should also figure out what is the suggested time to arrive or the most comfortable. People may need be lined up to come down the aisle, or set up for introductions.
Usually this is a part where we don’t have to worry about much. You may be familiar with the routine, but it’s good to confirm the time. Officiants can sometimes be carried away with their sermons or speeches. This is really important under a strict churches, that will only allow photography for a certain period of time. It is also helpful to know how much time you have until the following wedding or mass is performed.
Ceremony Time: 15 min - 1hr 30 min
- Family Formal Photography
This is pretty standard and the best time to get everyone who’s supposed to be there photographed for the wedding. The other part of this is the size of the family. I’ve done something so simple from only 5 members to a parade of people having to stand outside of the venue that didn't have room to place the big crowd. Also narrowing down the absolute must have shots is helpful for the photographer.
Expected time: 15 min - 45 minutes
- Travel to location shoots
This also applies to weddings within the same location such as Country Clubs. Walking takes time too, if your thinking about a bridge or fountain they have on their property, sometimes a golf cart needs to be taken if available. Otherwise calculating potential traffic is part of the mix. It really adds up if you have more than one location to go to.
- Pre Reception Celebration
There’s a cocktail hour and the actual reception time. You should ask yourself if it’s important to greet your guests during cocktail hour. If not then you can use the time to add more to your location photography, but make sure to arrive with sufficient time for the wedding photographer to take venue shots before people are seated, if it's what you'd like to see. You also need to line up the bridal party for introductions.
- Events during Reception
Usually it’s your wedding coordinator or DJ that sets up this portion of the night. Things like, speeches, cake cutting, and first dance are generally the most typical. Additional events can play a role in the timeline, like special dances, other speeches or prayers, performances, or other traditional events. Hopefully this all aligns well with the amount of time your wedding photographer was hired for, whether 8, 10, or to even see if overtime maybe a requirement. This needs to be considered in order to document the celebration, the way you want to remember it.
There’s all sorts of combinations to a wedding. It’s good to have all the cards laid out in front of you to set up a good game plan and make sure you're covered. You can go to the Timeline Generator to get a basic idea. An experienced wedding photographer in your area of Chicago by your side, is absolutely helpful to making this work.