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December Wedding Timeline

As a Temecula wedding photographer, I work closely with couples in creating an ideal wedding day timeline! A great wedding day timeline will do a few things for you:

  • Provide a stress-free experience because you'll know you've planned for plenty of "buffer" time in your day
  • Allow you to prioritize the items that are important to you

There are a few questions you'll need to ask yourself when creating your timeline!

What time is the sunset?

The time of the sunset will dictate your ceremony time. Additionally, for December weddings, this often means the sun will have set by the time you enter your reception.

For our sample timeline, we'll use a typical December sunset time of 4:42.

Will we be having a first look?

With a first look, this means you’ll see your bride or groom before the ceremony. If you have enough time, you can also take wedding party and family photos at this time.

This is an option I highly recommend for fall or winter weddings. For summer weddings, I often get “bonus” time with the couple because of the later sunset time during the reception. For late fall and winter weddings, this isn’t an option, as the sun will have gone down typically by the time you enter your reception.

I would also highly recommend this option if you have a large wedding party or a lot of family photos you'd like to take! As you'll see with the sample timelines, this means you'll have time before and after the ceremony to get all the portraits you want.

To learn more about whether a first look is right for you on your wedding day, check out the article below!

Pros and Cons to a Wedding Day First Look

Is there travel required on our wedding day?

The timeline samples below are for weddings where getting ready, the ceremony and reception are taking place in the same location. If you’re getting ready at a hotel and your ceremony is at a church and your wedding is at a winery, you’ll need to account for this travel time. If you’re getting married at a church and have a gap between your ceremony and reception, you’ll likely be able to get all your portraits done during this gap time!

How many hours of wedding day photography coverage do we need?

I recommend setting up a consult to determine a wedding timeline that addresses your needs! The timeline below is fairly standard 8-hour coverage.

I’ll note I rarely stay through the end of the reception! This is because open dancing photos get fairly monotonous after about an hour, and most couples prioritize coverage earlier in the day. Sometimes couples also plan a “fake” exit if that’s something they want me to photograph before my team leaves!

Important Parts of Your Wedding Day Timeline

Getting Ready: 1 1/2 Hours
First Look: 30 Minutes
Separate Wedding Party Photos: 30 Minutes
Ceremony: 30 Minutes
Family Photos: 30 Minutes
Combined Wedding Party Photos: 30 Minutes
Married Couple Portraits: 30 Minutes
Grand Entrance: 5 Minutes
First Dance: 5 Minutes
Family Dances:10 Minutes
Toasts:10 Minutes
Bouquet or Garter Toss: 10 Minutes
Cake Cutting: 5 Minutes
Exit: 5 Minutes

December Timeline with First Look - 3:00 PM Ceremony

11:30: Photography starts / getting ready images and details
1:00: First look
1:30: Family photos
2:00: Wedding party photos
3:00: Ceremony
3:30: Any remaining family photos
3:45: Wedding party photos
4:00: Married couple portraits
4:30: Grand entrance
5:00: First dance
5:10: Toasts
5:20: Dinner service
6:30: Family dances
6:45: Cake cutting
7:15: Open Dancing
8:00: Bouquet toss/garter toss
8:30: Photography concludes

For a timeline without a first look, you’ll want to keep your posed family formals to your immediate family (grandparents, parents, siblings). This is because you will only have cocktail hour for family photos, wedding party photos, AND your married couple portraits. This is a VERY tight amount of time - I would prefer at least an hour and a half, especially since we’ll be right on the edge of the sun setting!

If you compare the two timeline options, you'll see there's about twice the time allotted for portraits because of the first look. This is a highly personal decision and one I never pressure my couples about! My job as a wedding photographer is simply to let my clients know how the timeline will impact their day and the galleries they receive!

December Timeline - No First Look - 3:00 PM Ceremony

12:30: Photography starts / getting ready images and details
1:30: Separate wedding party photos
2:00: Separate family photos
3:00: Ceremony
3:15: Wedding party photos
3:30: Married couple photos
4:00: Married couple photos
4:30: Grand entrance
5:00: First dance
5:10: Toasts
5:20: Dinner service
6:30: Family dances
6:45: Cake cutting
7:15: Open Dancing
8:00: Bouquet toss/garter toss
8:30: Photography concludes

Wedding Planning Resources

Temecula Wedding Vendors
Avensole Winery Wedding
Best Temecula Wedding Venues
How to Get Married in Temecula
Winter White Barn Micro Wedding

Temecula Wedding Photographer Courtney McManaway
Get in Touch!