How should my wedding day unfold?

Getting married? Wondering how this whole thing will go down? Well that’s a good question. These days, your wedding can go however you want it to. The end…

Just kidding! Below I’ve outlined 3 sample itineraries for 3 very different kinds of weddings. I’ve included how your photography schedule might look to give you an idea of what kind of time commitment you’ll be looking at for each kind of wedding.

The Traditional Wedding (10+ hours)

Your traditional wedding ceremony takes place in the afternoon, but preparation and the reception make it a whole day affair! You meet up with your bridesmaids for hair and makeup in the morning, and laugh, drink, and eat while you get ready to say your I Do’s. Your husband-to-be won’t see you until the ceremony, so there is a lot of excitement all morning trying to shield you from public view.

When the time finally comes you walk down the aisle with one or two of your parents while you and your groom try desperately not to lose it in front of all of your guests.

For the reception, your family and wedding party have prepared speeches to make you both laugh and cry, and you’ve carefully seated your rowdy college friends as far from the microphone as possible (not that that will really calm them down at all).

If you’re intending to have your photographer with you from start to finish you should expect her to be around for at least 10 hours. In my experience 10 hours is the minimum for a traditional wedding starting with hair and makeup coverage and capped off with the cake cutting and first dance. It might seem like a lot of time, but when you can’t go 2 steps without being cornered by Aunt Rosemary, Uncle Fred, or another of your 100-200 guests you’ll understand why.

Here’s how your day might unfold:

  • 10am Hair and makeup starts.
  • 12pm I arrive to take photos of hair and makeup, and to get photos of the dress, shoes, rings, and bouquet. In the meantime my assistant will be working with the boys photographing them, well, being boys
  • 2pm You put on your dress. All the bridesmaids cry.
  • 2:45pm The guys start getting dressed. (They usually wait until the last possible moment before they have to leave for the ceremony.)
  • 3pm Here comes the bride!
  • 3:30pm The family gathers for family photos.
  • 4pm The whole wedding party, myself, and my assistant jet to another location where there are no distractions (a.k.a. wedding guests). There is laughter, champagne, and maybe some hollering at the groomsmen to focus.
  • 5:30pm You return to your guests and are announced into your reception for speeches and dinner.
  • 6pm Dinner starts. Yay!
  • 8pm Desert. Double yay!
  • 9pm You cut the cake and proceed to shove it in your new husband’s face.
  • 9:30pm You take the dance floor for your first dance, father-daughter dance, and mother-son dance.
  • 10:00pm I say my congratulations and goodbyes, and leave you and your new spouse to enjoy the rest of the party.

An Evening Affair (6+ hours) 

You’re a bit more casual in your approach to your wedding. You’ve DIY’d most of your decorations, your friends are doing your hair and makeup, and your dress is second-hand. Instead you’ve put your budget into food and photography. You’re excited to share an intimate first look with your fiancé before the ceremony, get married, then party the night away with about 70 of your closest family and friends.

You haven’t planned a seated dinner, and you’ve instructed your family and friends that there will be no speeches (although you don’t yet know for sure if they took your warnings seriously).

I recommend 6 hours for this type of coverage. With casual ceremonies like this you’ll need all the time you can get for photos before the ceremony and to grab some of the party afterward. These ceremonies, while informal, tend not to run on schedule and so everything can easily take longer than expected.

Your day might look something like the following…

  • 3pm I arrive for photos of the decorations before the guests arrive.
  • 3:30pm We find a private place for you to surprise your hubby-to-be. He cries. You cry. I try not to cry. It’s a beautiful.
  • 4pm Your family and wedding party gathers (hopefully on schedule) for group photos.
  • 6pm You and the groom walk down the aisle together and get hitched.
  • 6:30pm You have your first dance because the serious part is over and it’s time to party.
  • 7pm Mingling, eating, more dancing, and even more eating happens.
  • 7-9pm I attempt to corral the two of you for some sunset photos. The exact time of these photos depend on the season.
  • 9pm I finish up and leave you with your guests to enjoy the rest of your night.

A Balanced Breakfast (4+ hours) 

You saw a pancake wedding on Pinterest and thought, “Pancake wedding? I’m getting married, and I love pancakes!” (I saw it, too. I’ve pinned it.) You tried to keep the guest list to 20-30, but it ballooned to 50 when your mother got her hands on it. Nevertheless, you’re forging ahead with your contemporary ceremony, and have even requested a chocolate chip pancake option (a girl after my own heart).

Your focus is more on enjoying your time with your family and friends than the formalities. You do not have a wedding party, and you both plan on getting ready at the same place before the ceremony. You don’t need many photos of just the two of you, but want lots of candids of you mingling with your guests (and of course, detail photos of the waffle towers, and because there will also be waffles).

For couples who aren’t at all fond of even the idea of having their photo taken, shorter coverage can work nicely. For a ceremony like this I would likely work alone, and I would more or less play a fly-on-the-wall. We would of course get family group photos and a couple of the two of you looking stunning together, but I would spend the rest of our time together documenting the day as it unfolds.

Here is how we might spend 4 hours together:

  • 8am I arrive early for a few photos of the dress and you doing your hair and makeup.
  • 9:45am You and your hubby-to-be have a moment while I grab a few photos of the excitement.
  • 9am Your immediate families arrive for family photos.
  • 10am The ceremony happens.
  • 10:30am You mingle with your guests and I grab a few photos with your new extended family.
  • 11am Pancakes (and waffles) and short-and-sweet speeches.
  • 12pm I pack up and you get to enjoy the rest of your day.

If photography is an important part of your big day and your wedding will look like any or none of the days above, click here to get in touch with me. I’d love to learn more about it and give you more insight into the type of coverage that’s best suited to you.