Alex MacAulay Photography
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Wedding Day Timelines

Wedding Day Timelines

You’ve probably heard that your wedding day goes by way too quickly - it does! You want to insure that you have all the images you’ve imagined but you don’t want to take too much time away from your guests. How can you fit in the photography so that you get the images you want without holding up my guests or taking too much time out of the wedding day? Great question! :) We will try and cover the basis below. We will look a the major segments of the day as well as running through a couple of 'typical' timelines below - one traditional and one with a first look and the majority of your wedding photos done before the ceremony. First, let's look at some of the things that can influence the flow of your wedding day.

Things that can influence your wedding day timeline

  1. The first is the size of your wedding party - the more people you have standing with you, the greater the chances someone will be late or forget something - like their tux.
  2. The number of locations you will be moving between on the wedding day needs to be taken into account when planning ahead - not only do you have to account for the actual driving time between locations, it's amazing how long it can take to get a group of people packed up and in to a vehicle!
  3. Dinner format. Full-service or buffet? Depending on the format you can expect to spend as little as 1.5 hours with a buffet or 2.5 for a full-service, multi-course meal.
  4. Number of guests. Surprisingly, this doesn't always work like you might think. We find that smaller more intimate weddings can lead to more meaningful connections with guests and these chats can run a little long sometimes.

Timing for various Components

Getting Ready - groom 30 minutes - bride 60 minutes

  • if you are getting ready at the same location than Kate and I will split up
  • in this case leave 60-90 minutes for getting ready pictures

First Look: 10 minutes

Wedding Party: Photos 30-45 minutes

Couple's Portraits: 45-60 minutes

Ceremony: 20-60 minutes

  • most civil ceremonies are over in less than 20 minutes
  • full church weddings can take 60+ minutes
  • immediately following the ceremony is a great time to get a quick shot with all your guests - this takes about 5 minutes

Family Portraits: 20-45 minutes

Twilight Sneak Out: 10 minutes

Reception: 2-4 hours

Halifax Wedding Ceremony at All Saints Cathedral

Typical Timeline

Here is a rough timeline of a typical full-day coverage with a 3pm ceremony...

Noon: Getting ready Groom

12:45pm Getting ready Bride

2:15pm Move to Ceremony Site

3:00pm Ceremony

3:45pm Family Pictures

4:15 pm Pictures with your Bridal Party

5:00pm Bride and Groom Pictures

5:45 Back to reception site to freshen up and get ready for dinner

6:00pm Entrance for dinner

6:30pm Dinner is served

8:30pm Speeches

8:45pm Cake Cutting

9:00pm First Dance

9:15pm Sneak-Out for dramatic twilight pictures

9:25 Dancing and Partying!

First look before the ceremony timeline

What about seeing one another before the ceremony?

While it’s not for everyone (or everyone’s Mom), seeing one another before the ceremony can be a great way to streamline your wedding day. Your photographer can help set up the first meeting where you and your partner can see one another, dressed in your finest for the first time. This can be every bit as touching as moment as you’d have if it happened during the ceremony and it makes for great pictures. Seeing one another before allows you to have the majority of pictures done earlier in the day leaving more time for you to celebrate with your guests.


First Look Timeline

Noon: Getting ready Groom

12:45pm Getting ready Bride

2:15pm First look - the photographer will usually position the groom and then message the bride to ‘enter the scene’

2:20 Bridal Party Pictures

3:15 Bride and Groom Pictures

4:00pm pictures with the Families

4:45pm Freshen up for the ceremony

5:00pm Ceremony

5:30pm Cocktail Hour

6:30pm Dinner is served

8:30pm Speeches

8:45pm Cake Cutting

9:00pm First Dance

9:15pm Sneak-Out for dramatic twilight pictures

9:25 Dancing and Partying!

Hire a Professional

Want to take away all the pressure of setting up a schedule for your wedding day? Talk with a wedding planner. Not only can they work with you and all your other wedding vendors, they can make sure things stay on schedule throughout the day. It really is amazing how much pressure this can take off of a couple - it's like hiring someone to worry for you :)