As you plan your wedding day timeline, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. When you want your ceremony to start, how early you need to begin hair and make-up, time for family photos, when dinner is going to be served, how long you want the reception to last and making sure your guests have an awesome time… You want to make it perfect, for everything to flow smoothly. Not to mention you also want fabulous photos. So how can you make sure your timeline is just right? The answer is really quite simple: work with your photographer (and planner if you have one) when you create your timeline.
Your photographer has the same goal as you. We want you to have a lovely schedule and stellar photos. And since we have done this a few times before, we know what works, and what doesn’t! Which is why it is so important to work closely with or at least take into consideration what your photographer has to say about your timeline.
For my own wedding, I created the timeline by myself and thought I was good to go. Looking back, it all worked out just fine, but there are definitely a few things I would have changed. It took me longer to get ready than I had anticipated, which cut into our First Look photos, and I hadn’t allotted time for any more photos of us the rest of the day. That might not be an issue for every bride, but getting plenty of pictures of Jake and I was a priority for me, and I didn’t give my photographer enough time to get all the photos I wanted. We also missed basically all of our cocktail hour because of family pictures. (I definitely made it a point to grab a few coconut shrimp in between families, though!) That being said, I really did have an amazing day and beautiful pictures to show for it, but if I had worked more closely with my photographer, it could have been that much better.
So, here a few things to take into account when making your timeline! Do you want a lot of photos of the two of you? Definitely consider doing a First Look!! When you do a First Look, not only can you get plenty of pictures together, but it will also give you more time to celebrate with your guests after the ceremony! You can get the majority of them done before all your guests arrive, and then you can sneak off for just 15-20 minutes during sunset to get a few more in prime light, without the pressure of squeezing in a ton of photos in a short amount of time. I view what I do as an art, and when I don’t have the pressure of hurrying and I can really evaluate the light and location, it is so much easier to let my creativity out and make beautiful imagery. Now, don’t get me wrong, if there is a time crunch, I can make (and have made) it work! But I think any artist will agree that when we aren’t rushed we can create better work. (In case you’ve never a heard a First Look, it’s when the bride and groom see each other privately before the ceremony and then take portraits. I’ll be doing another Wedding Wednesday post soon in more detail about it and how much I LOVE when couples choose to do this!)
Another thing to think about… there is real time, and then there is “wedding time.” Wedding time is slower than real time. Meaning, everything always takes longer than you think it will! I have yet to shoot a wedding that stayed on track with the timeline in every aspect. The thing is, this is NORMAL. Which is why I always suggest having ample amounts of cushion time in your schedule! You can never give yourself too much time for photos. (Ok, maybe I shouldn’t say never… but, I have yet to see too much time. Ha.) The most common time when things fall behind is the beginning of the day, getting ready. (I am proof of this!) Giving yourself an extra thirty minutes for that portion of the day is a great thing to do. After all, if you do end up finishing early, you have that much more time to enjoy being in your dress and soaking in the moment :)
The last thing to think about is getting detail shots. I mention detail shots because it’s not something a bride normally remembers when it comes to planning on the timeline. And it’s not something you necessarily should! It’s your photographer’s job to know when to get the detail shots. But you spend so much time planning out all the pretty things you want people to see and how you are personalizing your wedding, we do need a few minutes to photograph all of it before any of your guests arrive! If you are having both the ceremony and the reception at the same venue and everything is set up, normally we can grab those shots before the ceremony starts, while you are freshening up and hiding from guests. If they are in different places, though, or if things can’t be set up early enough, ideally we love getting about 10 minutes (any longer than that is a sweet bonus!) before guests arrive at the reception site to photograph all of your stunning details. Just something to keep in mind :)
To give you an idea, here is a sample of what a great timeline can look like. Obviously your timeline is totally dependent on ceremony and reception times, different venues, time of year, etc., and this is by no means a schedule that you should feel the need to follow to a T. It’s simply an example of a timeline for summer wedding (sunset times) that I have found usually works beautifully and gives me enough time to get fabulous photos!
- 12:30- Bride begins hair and make up
- 2:45- Bride gets dressed and ready for First Look
- 3:00- First Look
- 4:00- Bridal party photos
- 4:30- Finish photos, bride hides from guests and freshens up, photographer gets detail photos
- 5:00- Ceremony
- 5:30-6:30- Cocktail hour, and family photos taken immediately following ceremony
- 6:30- Guests seated for dinner
- 6:35- Grand entrance, blessing of food, begin dinner
- 7:00- Toasts
- 7:30- Sneak bride and groom away for sunset photos while guests finish dinner
- 7:45- Cake cutting, first dance, Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dance
- 8:00- Reception and dancing
- 10:30- Grand exit
Again, that is not to say that you need to make this your exact wedding timeline, it’s just something to refer to when thinking about how much time you need for your day.
Well, this post got entirely too long. Apparently I ramble when I talk AND when I type… Wow. But hopefully it will be helpful to some of you planning your perfect wedding day :) Happy Wednesday!