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How To Plan A Wedding Day That Works For You

As a Wedding Photographer working in Victoria BC, Campbell River BC, and technically all over Vancouver Island, I have photographed my fair share of unique Wedding Days. I’ve noticed that a Wedding Day Timeline is always slightly different from one couple to the next. From this, I’ve learned which timelines work best for people and are most enjoyable.

When couples hire me as their Wedding Photographer, we sit down and discuss these in much more detail. But I wanted to give you some more ideas of how you can arrange your wedding day timeline!

In terms of booking a wedding photographer for your wedding day, I believe 7 – 9 hours of coverage is the industry standard – and for good reason. This allows you to have photos from many of the big moments of the day, and all the little moments you won’t want to forget.

The ideal timeline from a Wedding Photographer’s perspective is..

Getting Ready Photographs: 60-90 Minutes

Time Allotment: 60 – 90 minutes in the morning or early afternoon

During this time, I will photograph both the bride, groom and the rest of the wedding party while they get ready. Typically it goes Bridal Party first, Groomsmen second, back to Bridal Party location for the final shots.

If everyone is getting ready on the same property like a resort, on the ceremony grounds or in a big house, then I go back and forth. For example, I start with the ladies, go to the men, come back to the ladies and get shots like:

Bride’s Getting Ready Location

The Wedding Photographer captures detailed photos of dress, veil, jewelry, rings, flowers, accessories, invites, and any other details you don’t want to forget. Pro Tip: Have all the details in one location. This way, the wedding photographer can get started right away instead of searching for everything.

Next up is photographs of the bride getting her hair and makeup done, along with the other bridesmaids. I like to capture a lot of candid moments here, like laughter, cracking open some drinks, sharing stories, getting the flower girls ready, etc.

Christmas Mini Photoshoot in Campbell River BC
Holiday Minis at Christmas Tree Farm in Campbell River
Wedding photographer takes photos of detailed shots
Groom’s Getting Ready Location

If the men are getting ready on the same property, I will quickly head over to them while the ladies finish up (I understand no-one needs 100 photos of themselves getting their makeup on).

Once here, I can capture the entirety of the men getting ready as it is a much quicker process. I get detailed shots of their shoes, ties, etc., and then photographs of them putting on their suits, their candid moments, sharing gifts or drinks, and whatever else is happening.

I always aim to get photos of the groom alone for some sharp, unique portraits. Lastly, if there is a parent helping him, It’s nice to capture those moments of just the two of them together. It’s not often that a son and mother or father have nice moments of themselves together on camera.

Groom portrait
Holiday Minis at Evergreen Tree Farm in Campbell River
Holiday Minis at Evergreen Tree Farm in Campbell River
Back to Bride’s Getting Ready Location

Now for the final shots! This is when the Wedding Photographer (myself) would take artistic images of your bridesmaids or mom doing up your dress for you and helping with the final wedding dress or wedding jewelry details.

Photos might include people doing up the Bride’s Wedding Dress, the Bride putting on her jewelry, people crying, hugging, some artistic portraits of just the bride, some soft photographs of the bride and her mom or her dad, and more.

Some other options include doing a ‘First Look’ with the Brides father, mother, or even the entire bridal party. For example, your mom could help you with your wedding dress in another room, and then you could walk out and surprise your bridesmaids.

Usually this ‘Getting Ready’ portion of the day takes about 60 – 90 minutes for your wedding photographer to capture all the shots they wanted! The next steps depend on your preferences.

Siblings get photos taken at a Christmas Mini Photoshoot in Campbell River
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Family Photos at Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm
Holiday Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm. 3 siblings get their photo taken
Family Photos during Christmas Mini Sessions at Evergreen Tree farm in Campbell River

Next Step: First Look vs. Ceremony 

Option 1: Ceremony First Look 

This is when the Bride and Groom see each other for the first time when the bride is walking down the aisle. If you are more traditional and this is a really big moment that you’ve always dreamed of, then this is a beautiful way to see each other for the first time. Emotions are heightened and the anticipation to see each other builds all morning.

As your Wedding Photographer, I can’t miss the details at the ceremony site! So I will take a 10 minute headstart and get to the wedding ceremony location. This way I can photograph your family and friends arriving at your ceremony.

Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Option 2: Pre Wedding Ceremony First Look  

A “First Look’ is when the couple sees each other before the Wedding Ceremony. There are many reasons a couple would choose to do this.

Why Are “First Looks” So Popular Now?
  1. It allows them to shake off any nerves before the ceremony. Couples find they remember the ceremony much more vividly years after because their nerves weren’t as intense as they would have been without a first look. It just gives couples time to decompress and shake out any stress.
  2. It helps with the Wedding Day Plan because as your Wedding Photographer, I can capture all your Wedding Portraits and even Wedding Party photos before the Ceremony. This means you will look your very best (since you just finished getting ready) for all of your portraits and wedding party photos.
  3. It opens up so much time after the ceremony (which is when most people would head off with their Wedding Party for photos). I have heard people complain that they had too big of a gap between their ceremony and the dinner or wedding reception. Guests aren’t always sure what to do. Should they go home and change? Sit around all day? It’s not the worst problem BUT it is nice to just go from the ceremony to the party!

Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Option 2: Best Wedding Day Timeline

Alright, so you’ve chosen Option B (First Look). You want to get all the must-have photos done before the ceremony. Ideally, the timeline looks like this…

60-90 Minutes of Getting Ready

20-30 Minutes First Look + Couple Portraits

30-60 Minutes Wedding Party (The length of this depends on what location we go to)

30 Minute Wedding Ceremony

30 Minute Congratulations with Fiends and Family + Family Photos

60-90 Minutes Candid Moments during Cocktail Hour

90-120 Minutes Dinner and Speeches

60-120 Minutes Dancing, Games and Cake Cutting

Let me explain further..

Wedding Ceremony

Usually, this can last about 20-30 minutes depending on your officiant.

Post Wedding Ceremony

I find that during a typical wedding day after the ceremony your friends and family will congratulate you and smother you with a lot of hugs. This is a great time to relax, celebrate, potentially have a Champagne Pop, and enjoy these moments. This can last anywhere between 10 – 30 minutes depending on your crew!

As your Wedding Photographer, I allow for this to naturally occur, and once things settle down, I pull everyone to a nice location on site for some Family Photos.

Family Photos

20-30 Minutes is always a good amount of time for Family Photos. I make this as quick as possible by politely yelling at family members to get in line hahah. I want to ensure you both have photos with all the family you’d like, and all the different variations. Sometimes this only takes a few minutes if you don’t have tons of family with you!

 

Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Vancouver Island Wedding Photographer and Wedding Videographer 147 of 189
Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Family Photos during Christmas Mini Sessions at Evergreen Tree farm in Campbell River
Backtrack. If You Chose Not To Do A First Look, Here is Your Best Wedding Day Timeline

If You Chose Option A (Waiting until the ceremony to see each other) then your wedding day timeline would ideally look like this…

60-90 Minutes of Getting Ready

30 Minute Wedding Ceremony

30 Minute Congratulations with Fiends and Family + Family Photos

60-90 Minutes Wedding Party (The length of this depends on what location we go to)

60-90 Minutes Candid Moments during Cocktail Hour

90-120 Minutes Dinner and Speeches

60-120 Minutes Dancing, Games and Cake Cutting

Wedding Party Photos

I usually pair up your Couple Portraits and these Wedding Party Photographs together. For instance, we will likely all walk to a few different locations. It is nice to have photos of just the two of you, but also with beautiful locations I love to photograph the bride with all her bridesmaids individually. Next beautiful location, the groom with him and each of his groomsmen. Then the next beautiful spot, the entire party! All while mixing in couple portraits.

Wedding Photographer Pro Tip:

Pack a cooler full of drinks and snacks during this part of your day! I will not make this part ‘drag on’ for those that really want to party. Let the party begin as soon as we head off on our own. Yes, I am taking photos and will give directions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sit with your friends and joke around while you are off camera. It’s great to be well fed during this time!

Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Holiday Photoshoot in Campbell River
Christmas Mini Photoshoot at Evergreen Tree Farm
Family Photos during Christmas Mini Sessions at Evergreen Tree farm in Campbell River
Wedding Reception

Either way, once the Wedding Photographer captures the family photos, and wedding party photos, the pressure is off and you can fully immerse yourself into relaxation/party mode!

For the most part, the Photographer (myself) is at the Reception to get all the natural moments. The glances between the two of you, the bursts of laughter with your family members, the tears during the wedding speeches, the love felt during the first dance, and the drinks spilled when the whole party gets going.

Why is there so much time allocated to the reception? (Or Post Wedding Party Photos Time)

60-90 Minutes Candid Moments during Cocktail Hour

Because dinner is usually later in the day, there is always some downtime beforehand. Usually, couples enjoy some appetizers or drinks with their guests, go do touch-ups to their hair or makeup, spend time sitting (it’s going to be a lot of standing so it’s nice to relax and rehydrate!). Pro Tip: Sneak off for 20 minutes to be alone with just you and your partner!

90-120 Minutes Dinner and Speeches

When there are more than 40 guests, dinner can take up to an hour to get everyone fed and have them go up for another serving. Likewise, speeches always seem to last at least 30 minutes. If there are more than 4 people talking then it is almost guaranteed that this will take time. Pro Tip: Start your wedding speeches during dinner once everyone has been served.

60-120 Minutes Dancing, Games and Cake Cutting

Now that everyone has had some drinks in them, the schedule usually flies out the window – like time. Time will also be flying by at this point. What feels like 30 minutes, is really almost 2 hours. You know how it is when you’re at one of the funnest parties of your life. You blink and an hour passes. That will likely happen at night therefore, you won’t be in any hurry to cross other things off the list! Hence why I allocate so much time here.

This is my favourite part of the day to be at a wedding. Everything comes together so beautifully during this time.

Victoria BC Wedding Photographer at Oceanfront Wedding 39 of 232
Wedding Photography during Wedding Reception
Wedding Reception Photography images
Wedding Reception outdoors in Victoria BC
Wedding Photography Victoria BC first dance together
Wedding Reception in Victoria BC
Wedding Photographer in Victoria BC takes photos during the wedding reception
Outdoor Wedding Reception in Victoria BC
Wedding Photographer in Victoria BC takes photos during the wedding reception
Father Daughter dance on wedding day in victoria bc
Wedding Reception Photos in Victoria BC
Last Thing To Remember When Planning Your Wedding Day Timeline

If you are someone who wants all the memories captured, then I highly recommend hiring your photographer for a 8-10 hour day! If you are someone who isn’t big on having the dinner and dancing captured, then perhaps a 6-7 hour timeframe would be more to your liking. Either way, it seems like every couple I work with boosts their time up to at least 8 hours.

If you have any questions about the perfect wedding day timeline for you, please reach out! I am always happy to help 🙂

Victoria BC Wedding Photographer captures Sparkler Exit on Wedding Day

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