France Wedding: The Perfect Timeline

From ‘I Woke Up Like This’ to ‘Digging the Dancing Queen’: Unveiling the Perfect Timeline for your wedding in France!

Hey there, brides to be! Are you feeling the exhilarating buzz in the air? Well, it’s that time when fairy tales come to life and champagne bubbles dance with joy. Yes, we’re talking about weddings! But amidst the excitement and happy chaos, it’s essential to have a well-planned timeline that keeps everything running smoothly. So, grab a cup of coffee, get cozy, and allow me to guide you through the intricacies of crafting the perfect wedding day schedule. I’ll help you ensure that your special day unfolds seamlessly, leaving you free to focus on what truly matters: celebrating your love with family and friends.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the world of wedding timelines with a casual twist. We’ll walk you through each milestone, suggesting some flexible time frames and clever tips to make your day an extraordinary affair. As your wedding photographer, I’ll offer guidance, inspiration, and a few reassuring words to help you craft a schedule that feels comfortable and stress-free. So, get ready to strike the perfect balance between keeping things on track and going with the flow!

9AM – Breakfast (30min)

Many nutrition specialist reffer breakfast to as the most important meal of the day. Maybe because it provides essential nutrients and energy to start your day. On your wedding day, you’ll likely have a busy schedule and be involved in various activities that require physical and mental energy. Having a nutritious breakfast can help provide sustained energy throughout the day, keeping you alert, focused, and active. Plus, if you’re like me and can be easily influenced by whether or not you’re hungry (let’s not pronounce the word), eating a healthy breakfast can help stabilize blood sugar levels, regulate mood, and reduce anxiety.

9:30AM – Morning time (2h30)

A relaxed morning provides you with an opportunity to mentally prepare for the day ahead. Remember, everyone’s preferences may differ. It’s essential to structure your morning based on what brings you the most relaxation and joy. It can be spending quiet time alone, sharing breakfast with loved ones, or engaging in a light exercise routine. The goal is to create an atmosphere of tranquility and positivity to set the stage for a memorable wedding day.

12PM – Lunch time (1h)

Just like breakfast, having a nutritious lunch provides your body with the energy it needs throughout the day. When planning your lunch, consider opting for lighter, easily digestible options that won’t leave you feeling overly full or uncomfortable. Lunchtime is an opportunity to ensure proper hydration during those hot summer days.

1PM – Beginning of bridal preps (3h – Bride + 4 bridesmaids)

It’s the moment when hair and makeup artists arrive on location. For the makeup, it is beneficial for both you and your makeup artist to have access to natural light during the makeup application process. During your planning, you need to know how many people will have their makeup and hair done. This information will influence your prep time. Once, you have decided on this number, ask your makeup and hair artists how long it will take for them to work with each person. Usually, pros will suggest 30 min per person for hair, and another 30 min for makeup. For the bride, at least 90 min is necessary for hair and makeup together, depending on the complexity of the hairstyle. As the bride, you should be the last one to have your makeup and hair done, or at least not the first one. By having your makeup and hair done last, you can ensure that your look remains fresh and intact for the longest period of time.

2PM – Photographer and videographer arrive

As your wedding photographer, I love arriving a couple of hours early to capture all the excitement and candid moments that unfold during the getting ready time. It gives me the chance to document you and your bridesmaids in candid laughter, capture the intricate details of your bridal ensemble (think rings, shoes etc.), and if you’re up for it, snap some stunning bridal portraits that will take your breath away.

3PM – Beginning of groom preps (15min)

On the list of the things that make men and women so different is the time it takes men to get ready. I must admit. They are fast. The groom’s getting ready moment is a significant part of the wedding day. This moment is filled with excitement, traditions, and a crew of buddies by his side. It’s all about candid laughs, goofy antics, and boosting the groom’s spirits. Once they’re all dressed up, it’s time for some stylish portraits that capture the essence of this epic journey!

3:30PM – Bride gets dressed (30min)

The moment the bride is getting dressed is a highly expected and emotional part of the wedding day. It is a time filled with anticipation, joy, and a sense of transformation. It requires some time and attention to make sure everything is perfect. With that in mind, we set aside a solid 30 minutes to ensure the bride is not only beautiful with all her accessories but also feels comfortable in her dress and shoes. The presence of support, such as your mother or your friends provides reassurance, and creates a sense of togetherness as the bride transitions into her bridal attire. It’s also the moment I can photograph precious moments of you and your loved ones.

4PM – Guests arrive at the venue (30min)

Ever noticed those eager beavers who show up super early before the wedding? They’re just too excited to wait and ready to witness every minute of the magic. Even if it means arriving a whopping 30 minutes before the ceremony kicks off! But hey, no worries, I’ve got a plan to keep them cool, comfortable, and perfectly quenched. Especially if you’re tying the knot in the sunny landscapes of the south of France, it’s a sweet gesture to offer them something to keep them hydrated. My suggestion? How about treating them to some refreshing infused water that’s bound to make their taste buds dance with joy?

4:30PM – Wedding ceremony (30min)

How long does a wedding ceremony last? Well, it’s up to you to decide. They can be short and sweet or, as long as a saga (yep, been there, 3-hour long). Usually, they fall into the sweet spot of 30-45 minutes, including the majestic processional. It all depends on your vision! Ask your officiant, they will gladly help you craft the perfect ceremony blueprint.

5PM – Group photos (30min)

Ah, the iconic group photos during a wedding – a delightful chaos of laughter, coordinated poses, and gathering loved ones for a snapshot of pure joy! This part includes the family portraits, and if you wish, portraits with your friends. In France, we have the tradition to take a group photo with all your guests together. Don’t ask me why! Before the wedding, I ask my couples to establish a group shot list and to designate a “director” to call the people on the list. By preparing a list of desired group shots and appointing someone charismatic (yet gentle) to rally the troops, we can ensure this moment flows smoothly without turning into an eternal affair.

5:30PM – Cocktail (2h)

Welcome to the fabulous cocktail hour, also known as ‘vin d’honneur’ in French! It’s your chance to mingle, greet your guests, and receive hugs and congrats. Keep it lively but not too long—not more than 2 hours. Make sure to offer your signature cocktails, tasty bites, and some awesome entertainment (lawn games are always a win).

7PM – Couple photos (30min)

As the cocktail hour nears its end, I whisk my couples away for a special moment. It’s that time when the sun begins its descent, casting a warm glow and painting the sky with breathtaking colors. We take advantage of this magical hour to capture some stunning couple photos before you join the reception. Why do it before dinner? Well, planning that session at that moment of your wedding timeline means you can fully dedicate the rest of the evening to your beloved guests! The duration of this session is entirely up to you, but I’d recommend around 20-30 minutes for capturing those gorgeous shots of you, the newlyweds.

7:15PM – Dinner announcement (15min)

While you’re busy capturing picture-perfect moments as newlyweds, we want to ensure a seamless transition for your guests to the dinner area. It’s important to consider the time it takes for them to hear the call, make their way to the location, find their assigned seats, and admire the charming table decors.

7:30PM – Grand entrance (5min)

It’s time to crank up the tunes and make your grand entrance as the newly minted Mr. and Mrs.! Choose that ultimate party anthem, the one that gets everyone on their feet, ready to dance the night away. And hey, if you’re up for adding a touch of French flair, here’s a fun idea: ask your guests to grab their napkins and twirl them above their heads in true celebration style.

7:35PM – Beginning of the service (3h max)

When it comes to weddings in France, get ready for a culinary journey like no other. Typically, we indulge in a delectable 4-course meal that’s sure to tantalize your taste buds: appetizer, main course, cheese and dessert/wedding cake. Some couples choose to skip the cheese as they may have served a lot of food during the cocktail time.

9:30PM – Speeches (30min cumulated)

Typically in a wedding timeline, we plan speeches during the reception, usually after the meal or between courses, and even during the cocktail hour. The most common speeches are delivered by the best man, maid of honor, and parents of the couple. Other close friends and family members may also be invited to speak. It’s important to plan and coordinate the speeches in advance, ensuring that they fit within the allocated time frame.

10:30PM – Cake cutting (15min)

The cake cutting ceremony is not only a delightful tradition but also provides a fantastic photo opportunity. While a traditional wedding cake is commonly used for the ceremony, some couples opt for alternatives such as macarons, croquembouche or other creative dessert options. The important thing is to choose a sweet treat that reflects their style and taste, and to enjoy the symbolic act of cutting and sharing it together.

11:00PM – First dance

You can totally rock the dance floor with your first dance before cutting that wedding cake. However, make sure your awesome guests have cozy seats to dig into and enjoy their cake too. It’s all about finding that sweet spot where the first dance and cake indulgence blend seamlessly.

11:05PM – Beginning of the party

Now that the dance floor is opened everybody should be dancing! One of my favorite moments in the wedding timeline, it’s the moment for me to capture the infectious energy, uninhibited moves, and sheer joy of everyone letting loose and having a great time on the dance floor! These photos are the perfect reflection of the celebration’s lively atmosphere and will undoubtedly bring a smile to your face every time you revisit them.

12PM – Photographer and videographer leave

Because weddings are about much more than just the ceremony and first dance, I leave when I judge that I’ve captured enough to tell your story. When it’s time for me to go, don’t worry, I won’t leave without giving you a big hug!!

“Literally felt like I had a 5th bridesmaid. You were truly amazing thank you!”

— Danielle

To conclude, a wedding timeline isn’t just some boring schedule—it’s a reflection of the love and commitment you both share. It’s a way to tell your story, live your dreams, and embrace your future together. As your wedding photographer, it will be a privilege for me to be a part of this journey, creating memories that’ll last a lifetime.

I totally get that every couple is unique, which means that this standard wedding timeline might not be your cup of tea. But hey, don’t sweat it! That’s where your wedding planner (if you have one) and yours truly (me) come to the rescue. And hey, if you don’t have a planner, no worries at all! I’d be stoked to lend a hand and work with you to create the most epic and customized wedding timeline that’s absolutely perfect for you.

So, if you’re an awesome couple looking for a wedding experience that’s tailored just for you, filled with incredible moments and seamless transitions, let’s do this! Together, we’ll turn your vision into reality, creating a personalized wedding timeline that’ll make your special day totally unforgettable!

Joanne x

Need inspiration for a wedding venue in France? Check out My Top 10 Wedding Venues in France.

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