How long will this take? Your hacksheet for knowing how long it will ACTUALLY TAKE.
Does your wedding timeline have you feeling like this? Like you're going to be literally running from event to event on a day that is supposed to be amazing, fun and enjoyable? Well, if you're anything like me, I do NOT like to run--not even for donuts ya'll, nope!
Since 2019, I have single-handedly photographed over 50 Weddings and a few Elopements here and there. In that time, I have had weddings ranging from laid back and turtle pace slow to "okay, I'm dying, I'm dead, please, no more!" I've found that the best wedding timelines are the ones who discussed their day planning with their photographer (me!) prior to finalizing everything.
One of the most common misconceptions is how long things actually take to do. Like, for instance, you've decided to do a "First Look". Great! I love those! Well, chances are you've made this a 20-30 minute block of time on your wedding day and that is just absolutely insane! Unless you and your partner are going for a walk down the road for some fast food, there is NO WAY your first look should ever take 30 minutes to do! LOL! Another example, first dances. The average length of a song, according to the Billboard Hot 100, is approximately 3.5 minutes long. Let's say you have 3 first dances: Wedding Couple, Father-Daughter and Mother-Son (or any other combination!) and you average each one to be 4 minutes in length--that is 4x3=12. So, 12 minutes for first dances! Budget out 15 minutes and you should be good! Of course, it is wise to budget a few extra minutes throughout your wedding day, you never know when someone is going to get lost or stuck in the bathroom for longer than expected, but for the most part, it is smart to budget your time to as-necessary.
Here is a simple run-down of time expected for many of the popular Wedding Day to-do's (don't hold me liable if this doesn't work for your day! This is simply a suggestion or a base to get you started!):
Hair & Make-up w/one artist: Average 60-90 minutes PER person
Getting Dressed: 15-20 minutes for the ladies, like 10 tops for the men 🙄
First Looks: 10 minutes per person you're doing this with
Private Individual Portraits: 10-15 minutes with your photographer, each.
Private Vow Readings: 15 minutes, because tears! 😢
PEACE TIME: I don't care who you are, please add this into your schedule, you will thank me later. This is time, just before you walk down the aisle, FOR YOU and ONLY YOU. This is peaceful, destress time for yourself. I recommend 20 minutes, however, even 10 minutes is better than nothing. You deserve a rest to decompress before you say "I do". This will be your final moments as an un-wed person. SO IMPORTANT! DO IT!
Ceremony: This depends on the type of Wedding you are having. Catholic Wedding Ceremonies can go for 1.5-2 hours, however, more casual weddings or non-religious weddings can be as short as 5 minutes long!
Cocktail Hour: It's obvious and it's not at the same time. This is when the Family Portraits take place, the Wedding Party photos happen and then the Wedding Couple portraits occur. I recommend blocking off 80-90 minutes for this portion. Top reason why? The couple always gets bombarded post wedding. So, unless you plan on herding your guests away and turning away and running from the crowd, budget for this.
Family Photos: 15 minutes, tops! Get them OUT OF THE WAYYYY!
Wedding Party Photos: Small Groups, 15 minutes, Larger Groups, 20 minutes
Wedding Couple Photos: (do an AFTER SESSION! 🤗) 20-30 minutes
Grand Entrances: Depends on the Wedding Party size and who is getting special announcements but I would budget 10 minutes of prep with the DJ -PLUS- 1.5 minutes per person/couple.
First Dances: We talked about this earlier, I'd recommend 4 minutes per dance.
Cake Cutting: 5 minutes
Bouquet/Garter Toss: 5 minutes
Dollar Dance: 15 minutes--don't let these go on forever, they're exhausting lol
Sparkler Exits: 15 minutes to get everyone outside and educated. If your photographer ain't yelling at people to line-up and get ready, they aren't doing their job! Once everyone is lined-up and educated on how NOT to burn the couple, lighting the sparklers will take 2-3 minutes and the walk-through with your photographer will go on for as long as the sparkler's will last lol. NOTE: IF YOU ARE PLANNING A SPARKLER EXIT BUT THE EXTRA LONG ONES OR YOU WILL BE FILLED WITH REGRET! The short sparklers you get for $1 at the Dollar Tree are junk and won't last long enough at all. Spend the money or don't do it at all.
So, that's a decent info-filled block of time budgeting recommendations. Obviously if you have questions, please let me know! I would be happy to assist!!!! Be sure to check out the blog post with a few pre-made and pre-used "Timelines" for your day. Feel free to use these for your day--they're super helpful!