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Your wedding day timeline: both the most vital and daunting part of your day.
When you finally sit down to craft your wedding day timeline, there are a few obvious things that come to mind. What time should the ceremony start? When will dinner be served? Based off of that, how early do you need to start with hair and make up? Should you cut the cake at the beginning after the anniversary dance, or should you have a break in between dancing? It’s unavoidable that while planning all these important moments, (or “activities” as I like to call them…!) you really don’t know where to start.
This is the first of a series of posts geared towards helping you craft your timeline, from start to finish! This week, we’ll start where everyone should, at the beginning! The “getting ready” part of the day that you know you need a photographer for, but for how long? What will you need captured? AJ is going to chime in too about what it’s like for the guys!!
Let’s start with the special details of your day. The family heirlooms and significant things that you’ve planned out that make your wedding day and your love story unique.
AJ and I will both be working on these together! I’ll need to set up near a window or potentially outside, so having AJ as an extra set of hands keeps ups super efficient! Sometimes he’s in and out grabbing candids of the girls too!
We should arrive about 45 minutes to an hour before the bride & bridesmaids are all done with their hair make up. Make sure everyone is wearing their robes or PJs or other getting ready gear! Lip touch ups or a few hair zjushes are okay, but everyone needs to be almost ready to go.
Once we finish up details, AJ will head venture out for his other second shooter duties. These are things like checking the natural light around the venue to find the best portrait locations. He’ll say a quick hi to the guys and making sure they’re on track! I’ll pop in and get more candids and the finishing touches of hair and make up.
I’m laying out the details, snapping candids of hair and make up, hanging out! AJ is scoping the venue for light, saying hi to the guys, helping me with the details.
After the details, AJ and I will officially decide on portrait locations, and he’ll head over to the guys! While everything I’m about to describe is happening in the bridal suite, he’ll just be hanging out with the groom & groomsmen.
Not to brag, but this part is pretty easy. I usually come in, meet all the guys, get everybody up to date on the timeline, and then sit back and take a couple photos. The guys will typically start and finish getting ready during this time – so no worries if your groomsmen haven’t even started by the time I get there! This is a time for me to get quick candids the way you and your guys naturally interact.
Back in the bridal suite, when hair and make-up is complete, we’ll round everyone up for a quick group photo. If you’ve gotten everyone matching robes or pjs, this is a must!
It’s time for the first big celebration because the day is officially starting! This is also a perfect opportunity for a champagne pop, everyone to cheers, maybe some confetti?
I always think of this photo/grouping as the shift from “just a regular morning chilling with your glam squad” to “I’M GETTING MARRIED TODAY”!!
After that, the bridesmaids will get dressed! Any family members that will be helping you get into your dress should be dressed and ready too!
AJ syncs up with the guys. I’ll get the first group photo of the bridesmaids in the getting ready gear, cheers-ing and celebrating that the day is starting! Now it’s time to get dressed!
Back with the guys, it’s time for the groom and groomsmen to get dressed too! AJ will snap some candids of everyone helping each other out with vests, ties, and cufflinks.
Then he’ll take the groom outside or to a big window for some solo “getting ready” shots. These will be “pretend” as I like to call them, in order to get some nice pre-ceremony photos of the groom in great light!
The best part about “pretend” photos like these? They take 10 minutes tops! Then it’s time for the groom to head back and hang out with the groomsmen until it’s time for the first look!
My goal now is to keep the guys looking good (‘bouts in place, ties straightened), and to maximize their free time. But this can be a stressful part of the day! Getting the groom’s shots on his own typically gives him a few minutes to relax and reflect before the guys join him for groomsmen portraits. It always goes smoothly – even the rowdiest group of groomsmen can get behind 10 total minutes of portrait time.
Snap back to the bridal suite: bridesmaids are dressed and ready (everything but the shoes, those can wait if you want!). The mother of the bride should be ready as well!
Because…it’s time to get into the dress! BIG MOMENT!
I won’t start taking photos until the dress is basically all the way on! The most important part, photo wise at least, are the buttons! I’ll usually move the bride and whoever is helping to a window for the final buttons.
After the dress is zipped/buttoned/tied, we’ll do one of my favorite pretend photos of the day…! I always describe this like the scene in Cinderella when the birds and mice help her get dressed!
First we’ll head over to a big window. Then, the bridesmaids will horse-shoe around our bride. Then they’ll fuss over her, fluff her dress, fawn over her, etc. etc.! It always feels silly, I know, but it’s a sweet moment that I think every bride deserves!
After that, I’ll take a few solo shots of the bride. Putting on her earrings, slipping her shoes on, all that jazz! If we have time, we can even get a few bridal portraits in! *link*
Now…it’s time for the first look! WHAT! Remember when I said this was when everything clicks and it’s all happening?? This part of the day just flies by!
Pro Tip: Already have the time set for your first look? To figure out when to have your photographer arrive, simply subtract 2 hours and viola ! You have your coverage start time!
If you’re not having a first look, the first part of the day remains the same. You can subtract 2.5 hours from the start of the ceremony time to figure out your coverage start time! The extra 30 minutes is to fit in separate bridal party portraits pre-ceremony!
Next week we’ll dive into specific of a first look. What exactly it is, how it can impact your day, and a few things that might surprise you! Tune in next Wednesday to see!
We are an Austin, Texas-based wedding photography duo committed to celebrating your Big Day by capturing every joyous, unscripted moment.