The first thing that I want to point out is that I live in Ohio so these timelines were created using an approx. sunset time and with weather in mind.
I have said this dozens of times yet it bears repeating. I will never force/ pressure/ convince any couple to do a first look. It is not my decision – it is yours. Yes, there are benefits from a photographer’s vantage point and I will happily educate on those (that is another topic and there is actually a blog post already written about it here) however it is my job and intention to serve my clients through the decisions that you make for your own wedding.
The reason I am bringing this up is because…. Sunset is very early after daylight savings time begins. If a wedding ceremony does not begin until 6:30pm and the sunset is at 5:30 then a first look is going to be more encouraged if you want any portraits in the daylight. If you do not all of your portraits and bridal party photos will be taken with off camera flash because it will be so dark. Which is totally fine you just have to know that ahead of time and be okay with that for ALL of those photos!
So today I am providing the perfect (read: IDEAL) timelines for a winter wedding with and without a first look. For both of these times we are going to assume that sunset is at 5:30pm. Each wedding day is different based on drive time and the amount of locations that you would like to have for photos.
Winter wedding timeline with a first look
2:30 Hair and makeup completely finished
3:00 Bride into Dress
3:30/3:45 Leave getting ready location to head to picture location if separate
4:00 First Look
5:15Photos with Bride & Groom
4:45 Photos with Bridal Party
Leave photo location and head to ceremony location
5:45/6:00 Arrive at ceremony location and get tucked away as guests arrive
6:30 Ceremony start time
7:00 Approx. ceremony end time
7-8pm Cocktail Hour
7:00 Family Photos begin
7:30 Family photos end. Travel to Reception location or bustle and enjoy the rest of cocktail hour.
8:00 Guests Seated
8:15 Welcome prayer/ Speech
8:20 Dinner Service
9:00 Cake cutting
9:05 First Dances
9:15ish Open Dance!
Winter wedding timeline without a first look
If this timeline applies to you then I would recommend that you follow this timeline and opt for an earlier ceremony time to ensure that you have daylight for your bridal party and couples portraits.
12:00 Hair and makeup completely finished
12:30 Bride gets dressed
1:30 Photos of bride alone & bridesmaids
2:00 Photos of groom alone & groomsmen
2:30 Tucked away before Ceremony
3:30 Ceremony Time
4:15 Approx. Ceremony End
4:15-4:45 Family Photos
4:45-5:30 Bride and groom and entire wedding party photos. Also includes travel time if necessary
4:30-5:30pm Cocktail Hour
5:30 Guests Seated
5:45 Grand intros
6:00 Welcome Speech/ Prayer
7:00 Cake Cutting
7:15 First Dances
7:30 Open Dance
10pm Reception End