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13 Tips to Maximize Your Wedding Day Timeline (+ 2 sample timelines!)

You're timeline, as un-exciting as this may sound, is one of the most important aspects of your wedding day! Without a solid schedule, you're day will be chaotic... and you haven't spent all of this time planning only to end up with a topsy-turvy, out of control wedding day did you?! You're photographer trying to pull you away for photos while your DJ is trying to get you out for your first dance while your family is begging you to go from table to table greeting guests - sounds like a nightmare (and an expensive one at that!)


A concrete timeline will make your life so much easier when everything is running smoothly and you can spend your day enjoying the fact that you just got married and are surrounded by all of your favorite people!


Here are 13 tips to really make the most of your timeline and ensure that nothing knocks you off course (or if it does, you're well prepared).

first things first : Getting Ready

This section will go over the standard times you should allot for each step of the getting ready process

1. Detail shots : 20 minutes. Make sure to have all of your details ready in one spot for your photographer to ensure this moves along quickly!

  • Dress

  • Veil / hair pieces

  • Shoes

  • Rings (all 3)

  • Garter

  • Bouquet

  • Jewelry

  • Invitation suite

  • Borrowed and blue

2. Hair & Make-Up : you should confer with your hairstylist and make up artist for these times as they will vary from person to person depending on what you are having done, how your stylist works, how many people are in your wedding party, etc. Make sure to buffer in some extra time in case this part of the day gets behind schedule.


3. Getting into your dress : 20-30 minutes to get into your dress, put on your veil and jewelry and add any last minute touches. This can take longer if you’re dress is very complicated to get in to.


I suggest scheduling a time to put your dress on. This gives everyone a set time they need to be ready by, rather than just ‘before the ceremony’ and ensures you have time to take some bridal portraits and photos with your family and friends.

4. Photo time! : 20 minutes for bridal portraits, photos with mom, grandma, bride squad, etc

Wedding Party and Bride/Groom Portraits

Now that you're dressed to the nines, it's time to consider when you'll take your formal photos! These are the photos with your bridal party and of the two of you alone.

5. Consider a first look! A first look is when you and your significant other see each other for the first time on your wedding day prior to your ceremony. Often this is a private moment witnessed only by your photographer so they can capture your reactions and all of the happy feels the exact moment you see each other for the first time. A huge bonus to the first look is that, now that you’ve seen each other before your ceremony, you can take all of your wedding party and bridal portraits before your ceremony - meaning you can relax and enjoy your cocktail hour after your ceremony!!


6. If you'd like to take the traditional route and would rather see each other for the first time walking down the aisle, you can still get some of those formal photos out of the way before the ceremony. Consider taking your bride/bridesmaids and groom/groomsmen photos during this time (at separate locations, so you don’t see each other of course). You can also take some family photos such as bride/groom with parents, siblings, generational photos, etc.


If you decide to skip the first look, generally you'll be taking all of your family, wedding party and portraits of the two of you between your ceremony and reception. Be sure to allot about an hour and a half for these, especially since this is the part of the day that's notorious for getting delayed.




Family Photos!

7. Your wedding day will be busy and you’ll be thinking about a million different things, so instead of trying to remember every photo break down of your families you’d like on the spot, provide your photographer with a list of family photos you’d like prior to your big day!


8. Prep your family for photos as well. Let grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and that brother in law who really enjoys the open bar know where they have to be and when. Time can be wasted quickly when someone has to go find wandering Aunt Susie for family photos.


9. Ask two friends or family to be your photo helpers. Pick loud and friendly people and provide them with your photo list. They can help your photographer by gathering the next group down the list while another group photo is happening.

A few more tips....

10. Skip the receiving line! Especially if you’re trying to squeeze all of your photos in between your ceremony and reception. Greet and thank your guests at their dinner tables later in the evening.


11. Buffer in 10-15 minutes everywhere. And I mean everywhere. I can't emphasize this enough - if you take one thing away from this list, this should be it!!! Weddings notoriously don’t run on time…. you just can’t be too safe : ) See the sample timelines below.


12. Don’t forget to add in travel time as well (plus 10-15 min buffer to account for traffic).


13. Get creative with your photos - they don’t all have to be taken during one time. Have your photographer take sunset or night shots of the two of you later in the evening. Trust me, you'll love being able to escape from the chaos and enjoy a little alone time during your reception, even if it's just for 10 minutes!

The sample timelines below are an example of a wedding where the preparations, ceremony, photos and reception are all at the same venue. Don't forget to include travel time if you are going to be in multiple locations throughout the day! You'll also need to add in your details such as toasts, first dances, etc.

Sample Timeline – Traditional

12:30 Photographer arrives for getting ready

1:45 Put the dress on!

2:20-2:45 Bridal portraits

3:00 Leave for ceremony (10 min drive)

3:20 Arrive at ceremony

3:30-3:45 Ceremony

4:00-4:20 Family photos

4:30-6:00 Wedding party and bride/groom portraits

6:15 Introductions

6:30 Cake cutting

6:45 – 8:15 Dinner

8:30 Dancing!

9:30 Step out for some night shots

11:00 End of reception

Sample Timeline – First Look

12:00-12:30 Photographer arrives for getting ready

12:45 Put the dress on!

1:00-1:15 First look

1:20-2:45 Wedding party and bride/groom portraits

3:00 Leave for ceremony (10 min drive)

3:20 Arrive at ceremony

3:30-3:45 Ceremony

4:00-4:20 Family photos

4:30-5:15 Enjoy your cocktail hour!

5:30 Introductions

5:45 Cake cutting

6:00 – 7:30 Dinner

8:00 Dancing!

9:00 Step out for some night shots

11:00 End of reception

DOWNLOAD OUR SAMPLE TIMELINES TO KEEP AS A REFERENCE >

FIRST LOOK TIMELINE

TRADITIONAL TIMELINE

Interested in working with us for your wedding photography? CONTACT US today to schedule a consultation!

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