Planning Your Wedding Day Schedule 

As a Toronto wedding photographer, one of the questions I’m most commonly asked to help with is the wedding day timeline. Although your wedding day might be months away, it helps to start working on your timeline in advance. A timeline makes planning easier as more vendors become involved and the timing of their tasks overlap. For example, hair and makeup should be almost finished by the time the wedding photographer arrives. Ideally leaving one to one and a half hours for getting ready photos. Read how to get beautiful getting ready photos here. 

First write down all the events of the day: getting ready, ceremony, family photos, first dance, speeches, etc. Take into account how long it will take to travel to and from portrait, ceremony and reception location. Google Maps can give you a basic idea for travel time, but add in some extra time in case of traffic or if things get delayed. Believe me when I say adding in buffer time in is crucial. It might surprise you how long it takes to gather people.

When estimating how long each event will take, start with the ceremony. If your ceremony is later in the day, then consider doing a “first look” so that the majority of the family, wedding party, and couple photos can be taken prior to the ceremony. Give yourself one to two hours for portraits depending on the number of people who are being photographed.

Give yourself at least thirty minutes before the ceremony to hide from guests or to take a quick break. This time will also act as a buffer if your schedule runs behind. If you have special traditions or performances, don’t forget to include preparation time and length of the performance.

Decide what you would like captured so that you have enough coverage of the day. I often suggest starting wedding photography part way through getting ready and ending about 30 minutes after the dance floor is opened or after your last speech.

Leave lots of time for wedding photography! Your day will go by in a flash and you’ll want lots of wedding photos to remember the day.

See below for a sample timeline. 

Sample Wedding Schedule

8:00 am Hair and makeup team arrive (based on number of people getting ready)

11:30 am Partner one and wedding party almost finished hair and make up

12:00 pm Photographer arrives for getting ready photos

1:00 pm Leave for portrait photos at photo location

1:30 pm First look

1:45 pm Wedding party, and couple photos 

4:00 pm Photos finished head over to ceremony location

4:15 pm Couple and wedding party arrive at ceremony location 

4:30 pm Guests start to arrive for wedding 

5:00 pm Ceremony starts

5:30 pm Ceremony ends, family photos begin and cocktail hour starts

6:00 pm Family photos are finished, couple mingles with guests

6:30 pm Cocktail hour ends and guests move into dining room

7:00 pm Reception begins (speeches, first dance, entertainment)

9:30 pm couple’s or last speech and dancing begins

10:00 pm Photo coverage ends