A helpful guide and resource for all our couples
The timeline. Oh the dreaded timeline! It’s one of those things that makes people sweat just by hearing or seeing the word. Fear not, for we have helped so many couples create custom timelines that we can easily make one that works specifically for you! What you will see below are general timeframes around the different parts of the day. We’ll break the timelines out for those weddings that have a First Look and those that are seeing each other for the first time in a Traditional Ceremony (a wedding without a first look).
Weddings with a first look allow us to get all the photographs out of the way before the ceremony. Some couples opt for this so they can enjoy the remaining part of the wedding day without the stresses that come with formal photographs (if you want to read all about portrait sessions, read the portrait session section of the MJS Experience). In terms of timing, the day would run as this:
BEFORE GETTING DRESSED: 1 HOURIn this 1 hour we’ll shoot details like your dress, shoes, invitation suite, rings, and jewelry. We’ll also conduct the Q&A, shoot candids, get makeup touchups, and group shots of you and your bridal party in special garments (if you’re wearing them).
GETTING DRESSED: 30 MINUTESThe moments surrounding you getting into your dress plus a card reading, first look with your Dad/Someone Special/Bridesmaids will take about 30 minutes.
PORTRAITS/MISCELLANEOUS TIME: 15 MINUTESWith your hair and makeup fresh, it’s a good idea to grab a few portraits of yourself! Add in some miscellaneous time and we think 15 minutes is smart to plan for. This includes bathroom breaks, small chit chats with friends and parents/relatives, and getting yourself out of your room. It might seem crazy but you’ll soon realize that these 15 minute increments add up. It’s smart to include them in the timeline and if you don’t need it, you’ll never go wrong with more time on your side.
If you’re adding up time, preps have taken about an hour and forty five minutes. The only caveat to this timing is if your First Look is not at the same location as your preps. If we need to travel to the First Look, you’ll need to add that time here. Whenever calculating travel times, use Google to get approximate times and then add 10-15 minutes. This accounts for possible traffic delays as well as the slower travel speeds since most times limos and party buses can’t travel as fast as your normal car.
COUPLE PORTRAITS & FIRST LOOK: 1 HOUR We’ll follow the first look immediately with portraits of you and your soon-to-be spouse.
BRIDAL PARTY PORTRAITS: 30 MINUTES We’ll now add the bridal party to the fun. It’s a smart idea to tell family members who will be in the family formals to arrive at this time. This gives those family members who are notoriously late to arrive on time (without them even knowing).
FAMILY PORTRAITS: 30 MINUTES We’ll get every combination of family portraits you want captured written down so there’s no possibility of forgetting anyone. We allocate 30 minutes in this sample timeline but know that if you have a large family, this may have to be adjusted.
If you’re adding up total time spent so far, we’re at three hours and forty-five minutes (1.5 for preps, 2 for portraits). Now’s a great time for you to relax and regroup before the ceremony. The photo and video teams will use this time to get prepped for the biggest part of the day.
It’s been our experience that those who choose to do a first look typically have a 30 minute ceremony. If yours is longer, please adjust your timeline to accommodate a longer service.
One of the benefits of a First Look is that now you can enjoy your cocktail hour with limited interruption! The only thing we would need to do is finish any remaining family formals that didn’t occur during the Family Formal session.
A typical reception lasts 4 hours. At this point coverage of our services has been about six hours. If you wanted us there for your whole reception, you’d need a total of 10 hours of coverage in your package. If you’re not sure you need us until the end of the reception, find the last thing you need us there for (this is usually the cake cutting), and ask your venue when that happens during the night.
When everything is at the same location, we’ve been able to capture all major moments described above in as little as 8 hours. 8 hours is the minimum number of coverage hours we’d recommend as that timing does not include much buffer for delays or mishaps. It’s our recommendation to add an hour or two.
Seeing your soon-to-be spouse for the first time at the ceremony is something special. The anticipation of the moment coupled with the energy of a room full of your closest friends and family makes the traditional way of seeing each other still a very popular option. This does come at a price though, which we discuss at length in the Ceremony section of the MJS Experience. In terms of timing, the day would run as this:
BEFORE GETTING DRESSED: 1 HOUR In this 1 hour we’ll shoot details like your dress, shoes, invitation suite, rings, and jewelry. We’ll also conduct the Q&A, shoot candids, get makeup touchups, and group shots of you and your bridal party in special garments (if you’re wearing them).
GETTING DRESSED: 30 MINUTES The moments surrounding you getting into your dress plus a card reading, first look with your Dad/Someone Special/Bridesmaids will take about 30 minutes.
PORTRAITS: 45 MINUTES It’s our goal to get as many formal photographs completed before the ceremony as possible. These include portraits of you with your bridesmaids/groomsmen, solo shots of you, and any other family members present. The cinema team would leave during this time as they need 30 minutes of prep time before the ceremony starts.
When calculating travel times, use Google maps to get approximate times and then add 10-15 minutes. This accounts for possible traffic delays as well as the slower travel speeds since most times limos and party buses can’t travel as fast as your normal car.
It’s been our experience that those who choose to see each other at a traditional ceremony have a ceremony that lasts 45 minutes to 1 hour. If yours is longer or shorter, please adjust your timeline.
It’s important to note that from this point on, timing can be drastically different if the cocktail hour is immediately after the ceremony or if there’s a gap of time allocated for portraits. If your cocktail hour is immediately after the ceremony, we’ll have to condense all formals into 1 hour. While not ideal, it can be (and has been) done. It’s imperative everyone is on-time and we are efficient in getting through family formals. We’re not going to sugar coat it – this can be pretty stressful so mentally prepare for it.
FAMILY PORTRAITS: 30 MinutesWe’ll get every combination of family portraits you want captured written down so there’s no possibility of forgetting anyone. We allocate 30 minutes in this sample timeline but know that if you have a large family, this may have to be adjusted.
BRIDAL PARTY PORTRAITS: 15 MINUTESAfter family portraits we’ll get all the bridal party together and take the larger group shots. Remember, we allocated time during preps to get the smaller group shots during that part of the day.
COUPLE PORTRAITS: 15 MINUTESWhatever time is remaining after family portraits and bridal party portraits will be left for Bride & Groom portraits. Sometimes when there’s a large enough gap between the ceremony concluding and the cocktail hour, we’ll be left with a good chunk of time. Sometimes though, when we have to complete everything during the cocktail hour, we’re left with 10-15 minutes for bride and groom portraits. This is one of the biggest obstacles when seeing each other in a traditional ceremony setting.
If you allocated enough time for portraits and you’re able to make some of your cocktail hour, awesome! Others will have to do all their portraits during the cocktail hour – hopefully someone can save you a plate of food and a cocktail (or two)!
When you are seeing each other in a traditional ceremony setting, there are many variables that affect timing. Our past experiences tell us that 10 hours or more are needed depending on the distances between the different locations.
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