Timeline Help

getting ready

Always, ALWAYS give yourself more time to get ready than you think you'll need! For a sure-fire formula, ask your hair and makeup artist for a generous time estimate of how long their work will take them, and then add on an extra 30 minutes for actually getting everyone into their clothes & out the door.

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Although everyone's abilities & speed out on the trail are different, we find that our usual pace hiking with folks is about 2 miles per hour. However long the hike is for your wedding or elopement day, tack on a bit of extra time the more guests you have accompanying you! Larger groups just move a bit slower on the trails. 

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driving time

We are really familiar with just about all the darn backcountry roads in Washington at this point, but she can always throw us a curveball every now & again! Always GPS your route ahead of time to get a good idea of how long it will take you to drive from place to place, especially if your wedding or elopement day involves multiple locations. We like to add about 20 mins of extra time for snacks, stops for gas, looking for parking, and just in case the road is bumpier and requires a bit more time and patience to reach our destination! If your wedding day travel involves the greater Seattle area, it's always a good idea to check out what the traffic looks like at that particular time of day ahead of time! We like to use google maps trip planner for this. Be sure to download a copy of your directions ahead of time. Many of the mountain areas in Washington do NOT have cell service, so communicating solid info beforehand with all members of your party is key!

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In general, most ceremonies take about 30 minutes. If you're having a traditional religious service, you'll probably want to give yourself a bit more time. Also, be sure set aside about 15 minutes after your ceremony to breathe, sign your marriage license, hug your new spouse, all that good stuff. 

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This is the most frequent mistake we see folks making on their timelines! We'll often get timelines with 6 hr receptions, which squeezes our coverage time really tight in the first half of the day. While we know you love to party, and your friends most definitely want to hang out with you: most receptions honestly last around 4 hours. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. If you have a larger wedding (over 200 guests), you can safely bet on your reception going a bit longer, maybe 5 or so hours. 

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sunset photos

If you want to have some portrait time together during sunset (yay!), we will generally just steal you away for a few moments sometime during your reception, usually for no longer than 10 or 15 minutes. There's no real need to schedule it, but you can put it into your timeline if you want! 

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grand exit / end of the day

If you have a grand exit and want to make sure we're there to capture it (hell yea!) but aren't sure when your shindig will be ending, you can always do your exit at 4 hour reception mark to make sure we're there to capture it, and then return to partying. If you don't have any definite grand exit plans and would like to leave your reception  time open-ended, a safe bet is to have us end our coverage after about an hour of dancing.

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extra hours?

We often get folks wondering if 8 hours will be enough time for everything. While it's totally normal to get stressed about fitting everything in: the 8 hours works pretty flawlessly for *almost* everybody. If you are having a very large wedding, or have an unusually long day planned, contact us and we'll go through it with you together!

Sample Timelines

We often get asked for sample timelines for weddings and elopements. Elopements are very one-of-a-kind by their nature, and so are their day-of timelines! The amount of time we spend hiking, chilling, doing other activities, and generally just tossing out the wedding rule book means that each elopement day-of timeline is unique. If you are planning an elopement, please reach out and we'll walk through it together!  However, most weddings tend to follow a pretty similar order of operations, so we have some sample timelines for folks who are planning larger celebrations below:

Sample Timeline No. 1

Who It's For: Couples who are seeing each other before the ceremony (i.e. doing a first look or a private vow reading beforehand)

-Getting Ready
-First Look (30 minutes with portraits of bride & groom directly after)
-Bridal Party Photos (20 minutes)
-Family Photos (30 minutes)
-Breathing room (15 mins)
-License Signing (15 mins)
-Sunset Photos with Bride & Groom (15 mins)
-Bride & Groom Head to Reception

Grand Total Posed Portrait Time: 
2.5hrs of photo time before the ceremony

When It Happens:
All before the reception!

Pros: We can get all the stressful, posed pictures out of the way before the ceremony, and you'll be able to go directly to your reception & enjoy cocktail hour with your guests. Additionally, all the family & bridal party are free to mingle after the ceremony, so no herding cats for photos afterwards!

Cons: We'll be perfectly honest, we like this timeline the best! But if your family is chronically late, you may want to move family photos after the ceremony. And, of course, if you don't wish to see each other before the ceremony, this is not the timeline for you!

If you're getting married in the summer, when the days are ridiculously long, we are often shooting in pretty unflattering high-noon sunlight for portraits of your bridal party & family. An easy fix to this problem is to keep the first look portrait time from the timeline above, but move photos of the bridal party & family to after the ceremony. This will extend your cocktail hour by a bit, but you'll have much nicer lighting.

Sample Timeline No. 2

Who It's For: Couples who are not doing a first look (i.e. you see each other for the first time when walking down the aisle)

-Getting Ready
-Photos of Bride's Family (30 mins)
-Photos of Bridesmaids w/Bride (15 mins)
-Photos of Groom's Family (30 mins)
-Photos of Groomsmen w/ Groom (15 mins)
-License Signing (15 mins)
-Photos of bridal party all together (10 mins)
-Photos of Family w/ Bride & Groom (25 minutes)
-Photos of Bride & Groom together (30-45 mins)

Grand Total Posed Portrait Time: 
1.5 hour of photo time before the ceremony
1 hour of photo time after the ceremony

When It Happens:
Before the Ceremony & During Cocktail Hour

Pros: By doing as many photos as we can before the ceremony, you won't be missing from your reception for ages taking photos when you could be hanging out with your guests. Also, doing photos later in the day usually means nicer light for portraits!

Cons: Everybody who has to be in posed photos misses out on cocktail hour, and there's more herding for family members and bridal party required after the ceremony. In general, we have to run a tighter schedule with less room for error, and you are still away from your reception for a while after the ceremony, so it's imperative that you have things for your guests to do or snacks for them to eat in the mean time! 

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Keep In Mind 

The sample times listed on these timelines are for average sized groups. If you have a larger bridal party (over 10 people), then give yourself a few extra minutes of time for those photos to account for the extra people. The same follows for family photos. In general, each family photo that has 2-6 people in it takes about a minute. If you have larger groupings than that, give yourself 3-5 minutes per grouping. If you're looking for more info and advice on how to plan for family photos, we got you covered. Take a look at our family photo guide

Timeline Help


If you have any questions, confusions, concerns, or simply want to have us sit down with you over some coffee for more wedding timeline help, feel free to message us anytime. 
Laura & Devon