You’re planning your wedding, which is so exciting! But also slightly overwhelming and you’re having to juggle a lot. What you are juggling revolves a lot around the timeline of your wedding day too. From when you are starting hair and makeup and doing first looks, to food, floral and cake delivery. When I was planning my wedding I felt like a fish out of water trying to make all the things happen in a cohesive way. And I wasn’t a photographer back then, so I simply didn’t know things! To help you feel more confident and stress-free I have put together some timeline tips for your wedding day from a photographer’s perspective.
Caveat on Timeline Planning
Before we talk about your wedding day timeline, I want to say something that feels obvious but is forgotten a lot. This is your wedding. Don’t let someone else, from a parent or a close friend, railroad you with their expectations. When money gets involved it is a slippery slope to allowing others opinions into your wedding to the point where the wedding stops feeling like you. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
Timeline Tips for your Wedding Day
This is written for couples who make photography a top priority. It is ok if this isn’t you! Every couple is different and have different wedding day priorities. So what are some timeline tips that will get you photos you love?
1. Getting Ready
On your wedding day there are a few things that take long than you anticipate. First is hair and makeup. I have had the more than one bride who has had her hair and makeup take longer than anticipated on their wedding day. In fact, a bride or two have fallen an hour or more behind schedule. Most photographers arrive when you will be near the end of this process, so have that important conversation with the hair and makeup team about having them run on time or early.
2. First Looks
There are three points in getting ready that first looks are becoming common: the bride with her bridesmaids, the bride with her father and the two amazing people getting married. Before a timeline would account for both partners getting dressed and a few photos with their wedding parties before the ceremony and a lot of timelines found online still center around this. So when you see a timeline online, you should add an additional 15 minutes for each first look you do. I also need to add that doing a first look will give you double the amount of couples portraits. If having a good amount of couples portraits I highly recommend doing one. As well you can do the wedding party portraits at this time, as well as family formals. It really helps make your wedding day go super smoothly. And the great thing about a first look is that it doesn’t take away from the ceremony aisle walk moment and always makes both partners calmer going into the ceremony.
Ceremonies at one of most stable parts of a wedding timeline. If it’s a full Catholic wedding, with mass, I know it will take roughly an hour. If it isn’t, it mostly likely be thirty minutes or less. The only time a ceremony will be longer is if you add speeches or songs. One thing you should note is that if you want the decorations of the space before your guests arrive, it needs to be put in the timeline. Capturing the wedding ceremony details takes around 20 minutes to capture.
4. Formal Portraits
This a part of the day where things get behind again. Family formals usually happen after the ceremony, unless you do a first look. One really important thing to note is that family formals are only for immediate family. Immediate family is your parents, grandparents, siblings and their partner. Depending on the family this could be a large amount of groupings. And with the cocktail hour being an hour or less, having a well constructed family grouping list made for the photographer will make this go much faster.
There was a survey done about part of the wedding day that guests didn’t care so much about, and guess what was on there? Wedding speeches. A lot found them awkward and that the jokes fell flat. Also, a lot of speeches start with “Hi, I am Bob, and for those of you who don’t know me…”, so much so there are video compilations of people saying that over and over again. One of my favorite trends is moving the speeches to the rehearsal dinner. That way, after dinner, the couple can move onto cake cutting or dancing.
6. Reception Activities
Once you hit the reception, you are golden! The night flows quickly and you will dance the night away! Some couples feel like they need to add activities to this section, but then wind up exhausted by this point and they just want to hang out with those they love. If you know you will be over all the wedding things once the dancing starts, I encourage you to do away with the garter/flower toss, the anniversary dance and just have a great time!
Remember, this is just advice as seen through the lens of a photographer. Every wedding is unique, so it’s important that you make sure to discuss these things with your partner and photographer as you plan your wedding. Do what makes sense for you. These are just timeline tips for your wedding day from a wedding photographer’s perspective, what’s most important is what works for you two!