Let's Talk Wedding Timelines
Let's chat about something I know all of you brides at one point or another have sat there and dreaded figuring out; wedding day timeline. I know. It's a huge, daunting task and if you're anything like me you sat there discouraged before you even started. In the beginning, you feel like there is just way too much to figure out and most people don't know where to begin or how much time to set aside for every part of the wedding. I am here to help the best that I can! So take a deep breath and read on!
Your wedding day is about you and your soon to be spouse and celebrating that love with your loved ones! Your wedding photography shouldn't dictate the timeline but I want to help you figure out how much time is needed to capture each part of the day so that your timeline isn't as heavy of a task as it seems to be now!
How much time does J. Sparks Photography typically need when it comes to shooting a wedding day?
Details: We suggest setting aside at least the first 30 minutes of us being at the venue for photographing details. Your details will be anything you would like to have photographed. Most brides include their dress, veil, shoes, rings, perfume, vows, all jewelry (make sure to include your earrings), all stationary (invites, menus, etc.), bouquets, etc. We will also do the groom's detail images at the same time (shoes, ring, tie, jacket, etc.). To make this time go by smoother, it helps to have them all gathered ahead of time and set aside so that we can immediately grab the items and get to work.
Getting Ready: We suggest setting aside 45 minutes to an hour. During this time, regardless of whether you have a second shooter at your wedding or not, we will photograph both the bride and the groom getting ready for their wedding day. Setting aside this amount of time is great because it allows everything to play out naturally without feeling rushed. I can sit back and photograph the emotions as they honestly play out. Most venues have a bridal suite and some include an area for the groom and his groomsmen to get ready, but if not that's okay! There are a few things I would suggest looking at when looking for a location to get ready. Something spacious with a lot of natural light (bonus points if there are lighter colored walls because they act as natural reflectors and brighten up the room even more). Before the bride gets into her gown, we also recommend that all bridesmaids and the mother of the bride get dressed before the bride. And lastly, we suggest to try to keep the space clean and decluttered because the room will photograph better.
Bride & Bridesmaids/Groom & Groomsmen Portraits: We suggest setting aside 30 minutes if you have chosen a package with two photographers and setting aside one hour if you have chosen a package with one photographer. If there are two photographers, we can split up and while one is doing bridesmaid photos, the other will do groomsmen (don't worry! we plan this so that neither the bride or groom will see each other). And if you have hired only one, it allows me to split my time evenly between the bridesmaids and the groomsmen. I will also squeeze in some solo bride images and solo groom images into this allotted time.
The Ceremony: This part of the timeline is dependent on what kind of ceremony you are having. Most of my brides set aside up to 30 minutes for their ceremony but certain ceremonies do last longer. I only have a few suggestions and tips for you here! Unplug your wedding. Doing this means that you will have a cellphone/distraction free ceremony without your professional images showing loved ones holding up their phones (and yes, even giant iPads). Communicating this multiple ways is the best! We have seen brides set up a sign and even pass out cards with the programs but it also helps having the minister/etc. make an announcement. Make sure when you schedule your ceremony time that you have thought about lighting and have accounted for the family portrait portion of the evening as well as the bride and groom photos.
Family Portraits: I personally prefer to do the family portrait portion immediately after the wedding because then we can release them and they can go mingle with family and friends during cocktail hour. For this portion of the timeline, we suggest 30 minutes to be set aside. We recommend letting all family members being photographed know that they will need to stay seated after the ceremony since family portraits are typically taken at the ceremony site unless it is an indoor wedding and then we suggest taking them outside. Have someone designated on each side of the family to help gather everyone in the processes (just because I typically don't get to meet everyone until later in the evening.)
Bridal Party Portraits: We suggest setting aside 30 minutes. This portion will allow for full bridal party portraits. This will go a lot smoother if the entire bridal party does not wander off. This is where we will do various group photos of both the bridesmaids and groomsmen with the newlyweds. Be sure that bridesmaids have their bouquets, groomsmen have their boutineers still fastened and it also helps to have bottled water handy.
Bride & Groom Portraits: After all other photos have been taken, this is when the bride and groom will come with me to take their photos. We will typically only shoot in one or two locations with various poses. This portion is one of my favorites because these are typically the images that get hung up and displayed! It helps to set aside enough time for these and we suggest 45 minutes. These images are best taken without bridal party or family around. (We also offer night portraits to all of our brides and grooms, these are taken during down time in the reception and take only 10-15 minutes.)
This timeline is just a suggestion and is mostly a look into my part of the day. This can all be switched around and altered if you see it going in a different direction. Doing a first look would change the order and could allow you more time to spend with family, friends and your husband/wife! If you have any questions, I am always available to help in whatever way I can!
Stay tuned for an interview with a local wedding planner and her take on the wedding day timeline!