Planning the timeline for your wedding day is exciting, it’s also stressful. Wedding planning isn’t always linear, and things can get out of hand in a hurry-especially on the big day. Having a well-planned timeline for your wedding day can remove a lot of stress from the equation. If you’re curious about the process and you want to know what I do to help my couples get through it, keep reading!
Start with the events that mean the most to you.
Just like your venue, you only have your photographer for a certain amount of time. To make the most out of our time together, my first step as your photographer is helping you figure out what events you want captured on your big day. Every couple is unique. Some couples like to have a sparkler exit, and others still like to sneak out the back when no one is watching. We’ll start with a 15-20-minute phone call to talk through what events you value the most. Most timelines look something like this:
This is just an example; every couple’s day is a little bit different.
1:00 PM – Arrive at venue, start getting ready
2:30 PM – Ceremony
3:15 PM – Formal portraits & cocktail hour
4:45 PM – Reception & wedding party entrances
5:00 PM – Dinner
5:45 PM – Toasts & speeches
6:15 PM – Dances (i.e. parent dances, first dance, etc.)
6:30 PM – Dance floor opens to guests
7:15 PM – Traditions (i.e. garter toss, bouquet toss, etc.)
8:00 PM – Cake cutting
9:00 PM – Exit
Making sure you have enough time.
This step involves reaching out to your vendors beforehand -earlier is better- to make sure you understand how long their services take. For example, if you plan on wearing an elaborate hairstyle you’re going to want to reach out to your stylist and make sure that you’re giving them enough time. The same thing applies to your makeup artist. These services almost always take longer than anticipated, especially if you plan on your stylist(s) taking care of the wedding party as well.
Making sure you communicate with your vendors can save you from being rushed through your wedding. I often help couples work out who they need to contact (and what they need to ask) to avoid being rushed through photos. Of course, I will also give you an estimate for how long your formal wedding photos will take based on your group size. Your formal photos include the wedding party, family, and couples’ photos- depending on group size these can take a while. I like to send couples a list for formal photos- all you have to do is fill in the names of everyone included, and check off the boxes next to their name for the photos you want them to be included in. This way we make sure no one gets left out, and things runs as smoothly as possible.
Just to be safe.
- Once you get an estimate for how long things will take with your hairstylist and/or makeup artist… Add another 15 minutes! If nothing ends up running behind, you’ll have a few minutes to toast with your wedding party (or just breath) before your ceremony. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to give yourself some extra time just in case.
- If you plan to do photos after your ceremony: While people get settled- have someone announce that pictures of the family and/or wedding party will be done immediately following the ceremony.
- If you plan to do photos before your ceremony: Let’s say your ceremony starts at 3:00, and you plan on taking photos with your family and/or wedding party at 2:15. Write into your invitations that family & wedding party should arrive no later than 2:00. Guests always run a little bit late, and if you do this you might just trick them into being on time!
Once you iron out the details, you’re done!
I promise, it really is that simple. Every wedding is unique! Some people like their ceremony done in ten minutes or less, and some people don’t like cake. Working out a timeline doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Whatever your needs may be, understanding how they fit together will make the big day run a lot smoother!