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January Wedding Timeline

One benefit to working in the Temecula area as a wedding photographer is no month is off-limits for weddings! While January isn't as popular as the spring and summer months, it could be a great month to get married since some venues offer discounts as this is considered their "off-season."

One of the most important things you'll do for your wedding day is to create a timeline! A great timeline will help you have a stress-free wedding day by accurately accounting for how long things take on a wedding day (and counting on things running behind!) as well as prioritizing what's important to you.

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

What time is the sunset?

When I get a wedding inquiry, the first thing I do is look up the sunset time! This is because it helps me to know when the "golden hour" is, or the time I'd like to reserve to get gorgeous, sunset portraits of the newlyweds! Additionally, it informs me of when, most likely, their ceremony time will take place.

For our sample timeline, we'll use a typical January sunset time of 5:04 to build our timeline.

Will we be having a first look?

A first look is when you see your bride or groom prior to the ceremony. There are a few scenarios where I've found it's highly beneficial to couples to have a first look.

Early Sunset Time

With winter weddings, by the time you enter your reception, the sun will have set. This means that all of your important portraits, like wedding party photos, family photos, and newlywed portraits, need to take place before your reception. For summer weddings, because of the later sunset time, I'm able to get extra time with the newlyweds during dinner hour, when the sun is setting. This is a great "insurance" policy in case things run behind!

Large Wedding Party

The larger your wedding party, the more time you'll need for wedding party photos! This is especially true if you'd like some fun and creative portraits of your entire wedding party. Coordinating a group of 12+ people takes time and it's best to err on having more time rather than less.

Large Family Formal Groupings

My recommended family formal groupings are your grandparents, parents, and siblings, and I'll create multiple groupings from that list.

Once you start to include more people, like aunts and uncles, etc., family formals take significantly more time! I can actually take family photos very quickly if everyone is on-site - but these typically take place after the ceremony, and of course, many of these people wander right over to cocktail hour and need to be found (hey, I don't blame them!).

For weddings without a first look, I recommend keeping the formals list short to ensure those portraits don't take all of your cocktail hour.

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 timelines I've created below are for weddings where all events are taking place at one venue. If you have separate getting-ready, ceremony and reception locations, make sure to account for that travel time in your timeline.

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

If you're having what I consider a "typical" wedding, for instance getting married at a Temecula winery with 120 guests, then 8 or 9 hours of coverage will likely be sufficient for your day.

Depending on if there's a first look, I start on-site photography 3-4 hours before the ceremony, and wrap up coverage about 30 minutes after the last major reception event. I rarely stay through the very end of the reception! This is because after about an hour of dancing those photos are pretty monotonous, and most couples prefer to get coverage earlier in the day. I always work with my clients to help them with the reception timeline to ensure I'm there to cover all major moments before I leave!

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

January 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

January 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

More Wedding Planning Resources

Check out some of the links below for more info on wedding planning and some of my favorite weddings!

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Wedding
Temecula Wedding Vendors
Bel Vino Winery Wedding
How to Get Married in Temecula
Your Guide to Temecula Elopements, Minimonies & Micro Weddings
Temecula Wedding Photographer Courtney McManaway
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