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The wedding day timeline is often the thing most brides dread planning but that’s where myself or your wedding planner come in to take that off of your shoulders! The flow of the wedding day always takes on a mind of it’s own no matter how much you plan for it, but having a plan is so important. It plays an a big role in the final images you will receive. Those sweet intimate images along with the fun candid moments happen with time and the location where your images will take place will also affect the look and feel of your images. I want to spend some time walking you through a typical timeline with a first look to help you in your own planning process. There are always things our brides didn’t think of or didn’t think were important, that actually are in order to tell the story of your day.

Getting Ready

Matt and I usually like to arrive about 3.5 hours before the ceremony while hair and makeup is being done. I’ll take about 30-45 minutes to photograph details such as the flowers, dress, invitations, jewelry, rings (both bride and groom), etc and I’ll use every bit of that time! Make sure your florist will have your bouquets at the location you’ll be getting ready at around the time we arrive. I love photographing details and having those items captured for our clients because it tells the story of your day. Those are the items that you carefully chose to wear on your wedding day as you vow to love your partner forever. In our Client Magazine which is full of so many amazing tips, we talk about window light and how important that is for a getting ready space! We can make any space work, but having a space that is pretty and full of natural window light will make your images even more beautiful.

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon
Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon
Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

This is the time for you to hang out with your girls and celebrate! You shouldn’t be stressed or have a care in the world! Drink mimosa, dance, laugh and be with your best friends. You have this one day, so soak it in and enjoy it! I definitely suggest giving yourself more time here as things do tend to run behind and the last thing I want is for you to rush or feel rushed!

During the time when you’re slipping into your dress, your mom and bridesmaids should be dressed and ready to go! These make for much prettier images than if they are in yoga pants and a T-shirt.

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Like I mentioned earlier, I do recommend finding a location with lots of window light! If your venue has it that’s fantastic! But if your venue doesn’t, I suggest looking into getting a suite at a hotel or maybe getting ready at home. I also suggest trying to not have any cutter in the room, I know that is something that is hard to manage on a wedding day, but if you put a bridesmaid in charge of diminishing clutter then your images will turn out even better!

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

The First Look

The first look is one of my favorite parts of the day, if our couple chooses to have one! I go into GREAT detail about the first look in our SLP Client Magazine, but the gist of it is that they are fantastic and do help with the flow of the day! I love the first look because it gives the two of you a chance to be alone together and soak in your wedding day. It moves too quickly as it is and this time together slows it down a bit! Capturing the two of you seeing each other for the first time is definitely my favorite moment. When you see each other for the first time down the aisle is such a wonderful moment as well, but you don’t have the freedom to hug, kiss, and dance together like you do with a first look. Another reason that I highly recommend having one is because it does get you more portrait time and you feel less rushed because you don’t have anywhere to be. After the ceremony there is always so much going on and all you want to do is get to the reception. This way you can fully enjoy each moment with your groom-to-be.

The first look should take place about 2 hours before the ceremony. We give our couples about 10 minutes to just be with one another before we move into the portrait portion.

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Bride and Groom Portraits

I love this time of the day as well! Not only do you all get some time together to not feel rushed and soak in the day, but you get to have this time documented and it will bring back such warm memories. We usually take about 30 minutes for these portraits and really don’t want to cut it back at all. You will have a short amount of time later during sunset (I’ll talk about that in a minute) for more portraits but this is the bulk of the images that you’ll receive so I HIGHLY suggest time is made for this!

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon
Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Wedding Party 

After the bride and groom portraits we will have the wedding party join us! We will get all of the group shots as well as the one on ones finished. All of the wedding party photos will take about 30 minutes. This can vary on the size of the group and if we are heading to a different location. I always want to plan for extra time than end up with not enough. If we finish the wedding party with time to spare we can even do a few family formal photos! Whatever we can do to limit the amount of photos done after the ceremony the better!

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

30 Minutes Before The Ceremony

About 30 minutes before the ceremony we will tuck everyone away so they can freshen up and get excited!! During this time, if the reception is in the same location and set up, we will sneak in to grab a few detail shots!

Family Formals – Immediately After The Ceremony

Right after the ceremony is over we will photograph the family. We say no longer than 30 minutes for this portion and only immediate family. We can get anything else during the reception. We want you all to enjoy cocktail hour and get through those photos as quickly as possible. Here is the list that we go by:

B&G with Bride’s Immediate Family
(Parents, Siblings, Grandparents)
B&G with Bride’s Parents
B&G with Bride’s Siblings
Bride with her Parents
Bride with Mom, Bride with Dad
B&G with Bride’s Grandparents
B&G with both sets of Parents
B&G with Groom’s Immediate Family
(Parents, Siblings, Grandparents)
B&G with Groom’s Parents
B&G with Groom’s Siblings
Groom with his Parents
Groom with Mom, Groom with Dad
B&G with Groom’s Grandparents
B&G with all family members if time allows

The-Wedding-Day-Timeline-Tips-for-Brides-from-Charlotte-Wedding-Photographer-Samantha-Laffoon_0019.jpg

Sunset Portraits

After the family formals and the time of year when the sunset takes place determines when the bride and groom’s golden hour photos will take place. The golden hour, is that magic time about an hour before sunset when the sun is low in the sky and gives this beautiful golden light and is very flattering to photograph. I also push for this time for photos because YOU’RE MARRIED and we want to celebrate that! If it’s the fall/winter months then sunset will be earlier and we will do these photos right after the family formals. If it’s the spring/summer then what we have found works best is to finish up the family formals and get you into cocktail and the first part of your reception and then pull you out for a few minutes. The sunset photos take about 10 minutes. That’s all we need!

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Reception Details

Getting the reception details can sometimes be a time crunch. If the room is set up before the ceremony then we can get the majority of the details in 20ish minutes. If it’s not then typically during the family formals and cocktail hour, Matt will take the detail photos. We want to get room and table shots before the guests put their things down. You more than likely won’t see your space until you are announced and you may not notice how the room turned out! That’s why these photos are so important!

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Reception

You are married!! Now you get to party with your family and friends!!! Our coverage is 8 hours and usually that will get you all of the above through the exit but if your reception is longer time can be added or we can do a fake exit with your wedding party and family in the middle of the reception.

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

***If You Don’t Have a First Look

If you decide to NOT have a first look, that is perfectly OK! We will switch around the timeline to accommodate that and you will still have great images! Fun fact, only about 50% of our couple do a first look! So no worries there! We have just found that the day moves more seamlessly when there is one. One more thing I do want to mention about not having a first look is without one all of the full wedding party photos along with your couple portraits have to be done after the family formals which means you will miss cocktail hour and we ask for no less than 1-1.5 hours!

Wedding Timeline Tips for Brides Charlotte and Destination Wedding Photographer Samantha Laffoon

I hope this helps you as you continue on in your planning process! Thanks for stopping by!! To all of our 2016 and 2017 brides we are SO honored to capture your day!! Thank you for trusting us with your memories!

The Wedding Day Timeline

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