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Planning your wedding day timeline

Planning your wedding day timeline

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Planning a timeline can sometimes be a confusing mess.  I often get brides who thought they had everything planned out, only to figure out a few weeks before the wedding that they need to add additional photography hours.

So how should you go about planning your timeline?

I’m a list type of girl.  Or more specifically I’m an excel girl.  I love my spreadsheets.  I probably have one for everything.   I would make a timeline for each different vendor based on times they have given you.  Then plug in the photographer based on some of the tips below.

Start off with when you want your bridal party to arrive for the wedding preparations

When the hairstylist/make up artist should arrive or when your appointments are.   I normally allow a lot of cushion time here.  Since this is the first thing in the day, it can throw the whole day off if it takes a little longer than expected.

Write down the time of the ceremony and assume guests will start arriving at least 30-45 minutes before the ceremony (for those hard core wedding guests that want the best seats!).  

Figure out when the flowers will arrive, when DJ will arrive etc.

Next, figure out what is most important to you.  

Are you one that wants the entire getting ready experience captured?   Do you want just a smidge of it captured with the wedding details (rings, flowers, dress, shoes, jewelry etc) or do you want get rid of getting ready photos all together?    I’ve had each extreme before.  However, my favorite is just getting about and hour or two of getting ready photos.  This allows enough time to get the tail end of hair and make up and the details.   It also allows to snap a few photos of you and your party ahead of time. 

 

Figure out if you would want a first look.  This is where the bride and groom have a little time before the wedding to see each other for the first time.   Now I’m a traditional girl so I completely get not seeing each other ahead of time.  However, from the couples that I have spoken to, they have loved incorporating this in their wedding day.  It gave them time to just enjoy each other without all the spectators.   I normally allow the couple a few minutes without interruption.   Once I sense that they are ready to roll, we do 90% of their photos together than.  Sometimes we do the wedding party and family too.  One tip with the family, is it often works better to do these after the ceremony as there is always someone running late.

 

Figure out if you want to attend your own cocktail hour.  This is normally when photos are completed.  However, if you want to attend your own cocktail hour (because come on, that’s the BEST food of the night normally!)  then you would want to plan extra time for photos somewhere else throughout the day.

Lastly, figure how long you would want your photographer at the reception.  Do you just want them there to capture the main events (announcements, first dances, parent dances, cake cutting, bouquet/garter toss) etc?  Or is there a sparkler send off or another type of send off you want us to capture that would have us be there until the end of the night?

 

So what does a great timeline look like?

 

Here are two examples.  One with a first look and one without.

 

10 Hour wedding day with first look

9:30 Hair/Make up begins

12:30 Getting ready photos start  - Photographer starts

2:00 First look

2:15 Wedding Party Photos

2:40 Family Photos

3:00 Hide Bride and Groom – Photographer to get set up photos of Reception

3:30 Ceremony

4:00 Cocktail hour

5:00 Reception starts/announcements by DJ

5:15 First Dance/Parent Dances

5:30 Toasts

5:45 Dinner starts

6:45 Dinner service ends

6:45 Cake cutting

7:00 Dancing to start

9:00 Bouquet/Garter Toss

9:30 Night Photos

10:15 Sparkler exit

10:30 end of reception

 

8 Hour Wedding day without the first look

10:30 Hair/Make up begins

1:30 Getting ready photos start  - Photographer starts

3:00 Photographer to get set up photos of Reception

3:30 Ceremony

4:00 Cocktail hour/Formal wedding photos with Bride/Groom, Family and Wedding Party

5:00 Reception starts/announcements by DJ

5:15 First Dance/Parent Dances

5:30 Toasts

5:45 Dinner starts

6:45 Dinner service ends

6:45 Cake cutting

7:00 Dancing to start

9:00 Bouquet/Garter Toss

9:15 Night Photos

9:30 Sparkler exit – Photographer ends

10:00 end of reception

 

Need help with your timeline for your wedding day?   Feel free to contact your photographer, venue etc. for a little insight.  I will say that venues like to stay on time with when the food is planned to be served.   Photographers sometimes get lost in their creativity so planning enough time to get all the photos you wanted to capture is sometimes hard.  Be sure to openly communicate what you are hoping for so we can all best help you nail down your wedding day timeline without stress!

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