When you are putting together your wedding day timeline, there are a few important factors at hand. You must be able to budget the appropriate amount of time for each activity on your wedding day. To do this, you must be able to communicate with your vendors and make sure there is adequate time set aside for each activity.
As two of the top NYC wedding photographers, we have put together timelines with plenty of couples and wedding planners for their wedding day. When it comes to your special day, we want to make sure things are done right. In putting together a wedding day timeline with your photographer, you will ensure that you have plenty of room for each part of the wedding day. We will also help you put together a timeline that gives breathing room in case your day starts to fall behind.
There are a few factors that come into play when it comes to planning your wedding day. One of the most important factors is whether or not you choose to do a first look. Some couples decide not to do a first look and have the initial moment they see each other be during the ceremony. Other couples opt into a first look for an intimate moment on their wedding day.
Both timelines have validity to them. There is no right answer when it comes to your wedding day. It all comes down to what you want. There are some reasons, however, to consider a first look when it comes to planning your wedding day timeline.
Having a first look can speed up your wedding day timeline significantly so you can spend more time with the people you love. When you get your formal photos out of the way at the beginning of the day, it leaves more time for you to socialize with family and friends during your cocktail hour and reception.
If you can get your family and wedding party photos done after the first look, as well, this can speed up your timeline even further. You will not have to worry about wrangling family and friends for your wedding photos. After the ceremony, everybody can disperse and enjoy their evening.
Some couples also choose to do a first look because it is the only time you’ll be alone on your wedding day. Surprisingly, when you end up tying the knot, you don’t have a lot of time together on the day itself. This is why a first look can be such a nice experience for any couple. Having that moment alone together will be a sweet memory for your wedding day.
We have had couples in the past use their first look just to say hello to each other and have a little chat before the wedding day. Other couples make it into a momentous occasion. They will read out their wedding day letters to each other and have a beautiful moment made from it. Whatever your preference is, it will make for some beautiful photos.
Some grooms also like to have a first look because on your wedding day, when the partner is coming up the aisle, many people in the room will turn to look at the groom to see if they are going to cry or if they are crying. This can bring some discomfort for mini grooms, particularly those who are more socially anxious than others. A first look offers you a chance to be completely emotional and alone together.
While marrying couples may choose to have some family and friends witness the first look, like their wedding party or parents, for example, others choose to go it alone. This private moment together becomes a special memory just for the two of them. It doesn’t even feel like your NYC wedding photographer is there with you. Taking in each other’s looks for the first time on the wedding day completely takes your breath away as a marrying couple.
For the couples that choose not to have a first look, this is completely OK. Some people prefer the tradition of seeing your partner for the first time as the ceremony begins. If this is the case for you, you are not alone. When it comes to your formal family photos and wedding portraits, it just may take more time out of your cocktail hour and reception than if you were to do a first look.
The moment where a couple sees each other for the first time during the wedding day while the ceremony starts is also a magical moment. A room full of people that you love are staring at you both at the beginning of this next chapter of your lives together. Both having a first look and not having one have their own respective wonderful moments.
Typically, we show up about 30 minutes to 45 minutes before you are finished getting ready. For those who are getting hair and makeup done, this saves you from an hour or two of photos of you sitting there with no makeup on. For the gentlemen who are getting ready in their suits, this also means that there is less waiting around time for you before the wedding day.
There is typically less being done on a groom’s getting ready schedule, so their timeline can start a little later than perhaps a bride’s. When we arrive on your wedding day, we will take photos of the process and story of you getting ready. This could mean spending time with your family and friends, laughing and having a good time.
These special moments from your wedding morning are something to be remembered. We also love to use this time to get our couples comfortable having a camera on them at the beginning of the day. That way we are not showing up during the ceremony and having you feel as if you are being followed by a paparazzi.
If you are having a church wedding ceremony in New York City, we will check ahead of time with the church to see what the restrictions might be during the ceremony for photography. Some churches have limitations on when pictures can be taken.
Churches can also have restrictions on which parts of the church a wedding photographer may be taking photos from. We will make sure to adhere to whatever your church’s rulings are. We want to make sure that everybody, including your ceremony space, is comfortable with our presents.
For weddings that are not taking place in a church, we will photograph throughout your ceremony. We will stay as out-of-the-way as possible when it comes to photographing your wedding. The moments are about you on your wedding day, and we should not be there as a distraction.
After the ceremony is over, you may want to throw rice or bubbles. This is a fun celebratory gesture once you leave the church that makes for some fantastic photos. If you are doing a non-church wedding venue, then throwing some confetti within your venue, if they allow it, can also make a photogenic moment. Some couples choose to use small flags or ribbons, and others just have their friends and family cheer as they proceed back down the aisle.
If you have not had a first look, this would be the time when we gather your family and friends for your formal wedding portraits. This can be a relatively streamlined process if you were a sign member of your wedding party to help take care of the wrangling. Someone on your wedding day knows your family and friends a lot better than we do. Having someone that you know very well can help speed up the process on your wedding day.
How much time you should buffer in your wedding timeline for family photos on the big day is dependent on how large your family is. There are also some couples that may not want family wedding photos at all, and that is okay too! It completely depends on your situation and what you are comfortable with. Some couples choose to have photos with every family member attending, while others choose only immediate family and close friends.
Make sure to put together a short list before your wedding day to share with your photographer. That way, your photographer will know exactly who you need to get photos of, and they won’t miss someone who’s very important to you. Hand the shot list off to one of your close friends to help speed up the process.
Wedding party photos will usually come after family photos. This is because sometimes a member of the wedding party can be helpful in wrangling family members, but also because your wedding party can be there to greet people at the beginning of the cocktail hour while the family photos are beginning.
With your wedding party photos, these can be as involved as you want them to be. Some couples only choose to have a few formal portraits. Others decide that they want to have an individual photo with every member of the wedding party. We usually recommend you take a photo with every member – these are the ones that are special to your wedding party and get posted to Instagram after the wedding.
You can also choose to have some fun with your wedding party photos. You can pull some silly poses, walk around the neighborhood that your wedding is taking place in, and have a good time with it. If you’ve got some extra time in your wedding day timeline, have a little fun with it!
After the family and wedding party photos, if you did not have a first look, you can do your wedding portraits together as a couple. This is also a great period of time to get a breath of fresh air together and recoup from the big ceremony. You can take this time in your wedding schedule to relax and spend some time together.
If you have your ceremony and reception in the same location, you can take a little longer in your wedding planning timeline for portraits. This is because you won’t have to shift between locations. When it comes to your wedding portraits, you can have fun and be creative. Your photographer may try to get you two alone in your wedding reception space if it’s different than your cocktail hour as well.
If you’ve had a first look and got your family and bridal party photos out of the way, it’s time to head to the cocktail hour after your ceremony is over. If you haven’t had your first look, then typically those photos are done during the cocktail hour. Remember to factor in travel time between locations if the ceremony and reception space are different.
After cocktail hour ends, it’s time for your sit-down meal. Some couples even choose to have a “floating dinner” and keep the cocktail hour party going. It all depends on your style for the wedding day. During your dinner, typically speeches will start. This can take as much or as little time out of your wedding timeline as you desire.
Make sure to discuss a time limit with your speakers ahead of time. If you are having slideshow projections as well, ensure that this setup time is accounted for. Your wedding planner or venue coordinator should be able to help take care of this to make it a streamlined process.
After dinner and speeches, your emcee will typically call attention to the couple for the cake cutting. It’s up to you how you want this part of your big day to go. Some couples mash cake in each other’s faces, while others gently feed each other cake. Whatever your plan is, make sure you discuss it ahead of time.
It’s super important to discuss cake cutting ahead of time because if your partner mashes cake in your face and it ruins your makeup, it might be upsetting to you. After the cake cutting is over, some couples choose to have a dessert course while others open up the dance floor immediately.
Typically, the couple will also thank their guests around this time. Taking some time to give a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to your guests means so much to them. This is usually a short joint speech given by the newlyweds.
It’s time to boogie! Dance the night away with your loved ones on your wedding day. First up: the newlyweds for their first dance together. Some couples also choose to have a first dance with a parent or close relative during this time. It totally depends on your situation, and every couple is different.
All you’ve got to worry about for the rest of the night now is dancing. This is obviously the most fun part of your wedding day timeline! As wedding photographers, we typically leave about 30 minutes to 45 minutes into dancing. This is because by the end of the night, guests are typically very inebriated and those are the photos that may end up in your trash bin.
Once you’ve boogied and partied the night away, your wedding day timeline is typically complete. You may have your own personalized additions. Some couples, for example, bring in drunk food later in the evening. Other couples will have food trucks come as a surprise for their guests.
It’s up to you how you customize your wedding timeline. The whole day is yours to personalize – that’s the most important thing to remember. When putting together your wedding day timeline, remember that every part of it should make you happy as a couple.
We’ve put together two sample wedding day timelines – one with a first look and one without. You can compare and contrast the difference between having a first look and not in terms of how the timing of your wedding will play out.
At the end of the day, it’s your wedding day. The way you create your wedding day timeline is up to you both. Make sure to remember that throughout your whole wedding planning process. Your day is a big celebration of your love as a couple.
As experienced NYC wedding photographers, we highly recommend couples work with a wedding planner for their big day. That being said, it’s definitely possible for you to DIY your wedding day timeline. Make sure to consult your vendors when creating the timeline – especially your wedding photographer.
Hudson Valley, Westchester, and Catskills wedding photographers for non-traditional couples. Available in Ulster County, Orange County, Dutchess County, and beyond. Wedding photographers based in Beacon, NY serving all throughout the Greater New York Area including Tarrytown, Hudson, Kingston, and more. Proudly serving LGBTQ+ couples.
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