I ask every Bride to work on a Wedding Timeline. Whether or not she has a coordinator or wedding planner, having a timeline that someone can follow is essential for the day going smoothly. And it becomes easier for everyone if we all work together to outline the day. The wedding planner and I can easily give advice on how much time photography sessions will take. This is my way of making sure you get the photos and moments that you want captured.
So where to begin? I'll start with the typical/ideal times needed to capture the main details of a wedding and then we can talk about logistics.
Details (rings, dress, shoes, etc) ~ 30-45 minutes
Getting Ready (candid photos & putting on the dress/suit) ~ 30-45 minutes
Bridal Portraits ~ 30 minutes
Groom Portraits ~ 30 minutes
First Look ~ 30-45 minutes
Wedding Party ~ 60 minutes
Ceremony Details (before guests arrive) ~ 30 minutes
Ceremony ~ 30-90 minutes depending on your affiliation
Family Formals ~ plan for about 3 minutes per group photo
Couples Session ~ 60 minutes
Cocktail Hour ~ 30 minutes
Reception Details (before guests arrive) ~ 30-60 minutes
Reception ~ Depends on the activities and events taking place!
Logistically there are a couple of things to notice. If there is no first look, I typically recommend a longer couple's session after the ceremony. If I am working with a second shooter for the big day, there are things we can both cover simultaneously that make the system go smoothly.
Hopefully, this helps give you some ideas about ideal timelines in a wedding day. Let me know in the comments below what is the most important part of the day for you!