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Your Wedding Reception Checklist

Wedding Reception Checklist to Help Your Planning Process

There are many components to planning a wedding and while it can seem overwhelming at first,  the effort is well worth it! The perfect way to keep everything together is to make a wedding planning timeline and stick to it as best as you can. 


To help with that, I thought I’d share this wedding reception checklist from Janey at via Shutterfly

Shutterfly that allows you to plan as early as 12 months before your wedding and check off items leading up to that special day. 


Some wedding details like your wedding website, reception games, seating chart, wedding favors and wedding reception songs can be tempting to leave to the last minute, so having a list with deadlines like this will make your planning (and life!) a little easier. 


Once you have a good amount of to-do tasks on your checklist, we recommend splitting them with your partner. There’s no better team than you and your best friend so, get creative and conquer. If you’ll be getting help from friends and family or your bridal party, make sure to let everyone know what they’ll be in charge of pretty early on. The sooner you give them their tasks, the more time they’ll have to plan accordingly. 


Whether you’re hiring a planner, day-of coordinator or planning the entire wedding on your own, having a list can really help keep you on-track



Here is a link to a printable .pdf for you! Use it well!



The Importance of Your Wedding Timeline

The secret to having a smooth wedding day is planning ahead and breaking down your entire wedding day timeline helps you stay on plan, organized and prepared on the busy day. The more detail you provide on the time to your wedding vendors, the better it will be. Wedding ceremonies typically last 30 minutes to an hour (can be more for religious weddings), and most wedding receptions last 4 to 5 hours. Here is a sample wedding timeline, for a modern wedding reception timeline based on a wedding starting at 5:30 p.m.

This timeline has the ceremony and reception at the same venue. If yours is different, make sure that you include travel time. With this sample, as there is no travel, cocktail hour starts off right after the ceremony’s conclusion, followed by the dinner, toasts, dancing, and cake cutting.

Use the following sample wedding day timeline as a guide to create your own!

Wedding Day Timeline and Wedding Reception Timeline

2 p.m. Photographer Arrives

The wedding photographer should plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before the bride is ready. During this time, the photographer can get detail shots of the rings, details, shoes, accessories, invitational suite etc.

2:15 p.m. Bridesmaids and Bridal make-up and hair complete

If you’re doing your girls in matching robes and champagne images, plan on having everyone dressed except the bride.

2:30 p.m. Bride Gets Dressed

Once the bride is dressed, we can have images of the mother of the bride or the maid of honor putting the finishing touches on the dress with the bride.

2:45 p.m. Bridal Portraits

3:10 – 3:30 p.m. Bridesmaids Photos

This is a time for fun girly shots, think matching robes (if not dressed) champagne and glitter! If dressed, think informal twirly shots and much happiness together!

3:30 p.m. First Look

The first look is a special, personal, private moment between the future husband and wife, away from everyone else where they can share an emotional moment before the whirlwind of the day begins.

3:30 – 4:10 p.m. Bride and Groom Formal Portraiture

4:10 – 5:00 p.m. Wedding Party and Family Photos

Have a family member help the photographer with what formal group shots you want of your family members (and who they are) any family dynamics that may need special attention (discretion is the key here) and any other must have shots.

5:30 p.m. Start Time Listed on Wedding Invitation

Most weddings don’t start exactly on time, allow your guests to mingle with family and friends they may not have seen for a long time, or a chance for out of town guests to find the locations. Allow the photographer to get some reception decor shots before the guests enter. The table settings, the cake table and other details are easier and more efficient to take images of when it’s just the photographer and the wedding vendors setting up. Have fun! You’ve worked hard to plan the perfect day! You Did it!

Be sure to check out this amazing tool from the Knot which helps you plan your timeline with an interactive, personalized tool.

Choosing the right photographer

Choosing your photographer is one of the most important decisions that you’ll make when choosing the right wedding vendors. Photographs are a timeless heirloom, to be looked at and loved for many, many years to come. Selecting the right photographer who complements your personality, style and comfort level is a must.  Here’s my guide to help you plan and choose!

Step 1: Choose your Style

To start your research, I always say to my potential brides that if you’re contacting me because you love my style, we will be a perfect fit as loving your images is the most important thing for you. To begin with, research images that appeal to you and then look for a common pattern. Are they all light an airy? all dark and moody? Do they have posed couples, natural, un-posed style and/or a photo journalistic style? Then set your sights on a photographer who can match what you’re looking for. Here at Photos By Daisy we do a mix of posed, un-posed and photojournalist style for our weddings.

Step 2: Research and Review

Start looking at The Knot Marketplace. Carefully review the photographers reviews. Check out the look and feel of their website. Does it match your vision? How do they interact with their brides? What is their facebook and instagram pages like? Here at Photos by Daisy we have an exclusive area for our brides. We are very fortunate to have worked with amazing couples! We are also fortunate to have received awards, been published and featured on several blog sites!.

Step 3: Meet them!

I can’t stress how important it is to meet and/or facetime with your photographer once your date is available. Personality and comfort level is a must to make your day run smoothly. Having a camera in your face on your wedding day is very unnerving, so photographers love to meet their brides before the big day, and here we make sure to gift an engagement session for that reason, to break the ice and get to know you!

Step 4: See a Full Wedding

Photographers showpiece their best work on their website that fit their brand and ideal client. A recent wedding gallery will allow you to see true weddings, in all their hustle and bustle glory and you’ll get a feel for locations that appeal to you, moments and how they photograph and what’s important for you to have captured on the big day. You should view getting ready shots, the ceremony, formals, candids and the reception.


Step 5: Make Sure Your Personalities Match

You have to work so closely with your photographer that involves a certain level of trust. Your images will take a couple of weeks to edit and prep for viewing (see your contract or ask for time frames) and you need to be able to talk openly, have fun and be yourself!


Step 6: Get the Delivery Details

To add on to step 5, what’s the deal after the wedding? what type of editing do they do? how long until you see the images? are you ordering products or just digitals? wedding albums then need to be designed and created and can take quite a few weeks! They are custom made and a professional, high quality lab should always be used.


Step 7: Prep for the Big Day

Your photographer is the professional, so they don’t really need an in-depth shots list, however your day-of timeline is important, as well as giving them an idea of what images you’d like captured (like out of town guests or grandparents etc) and let them do their thing. We always ask for details on family dynamics as it can be easy to put your foot in a situation you had no idea about (we’d like to avoid that). If you’d like your wedding featured in a blog or publication, be sure to tell your photographer as publications lean heavy on detail shots and your photographer can help you out.

We hope this helps you and Photos by Daisy loves to create custom packages to fit with each budget to get you what you love!


Congrats on your wedding!