YES, you DO need a Wedding Timeline!
We’ve all been that guest at a wedding…impatiently sucking on table mints and Jordan almonds, wondering when dinner will finally be served. We glance at our watches trying to figure out when the ceremony ended and calculate if we can swipe a cupcake from the dessert table unnoticed. My friend, you have been a victim of a wedding without a timeline.
Here you are, planning your wedding and that list of things you DON’T want at your wedding is looming large in your mind. I am here to tell you, much of the things that go wrong at weddings can be solved by a well-planned timeline!
First and foremost, talk to your photographer (that’s me!). I carefully craft a timeline to ensure that lighting will be optimal for each portrait situation through your wedding day. No two weddings are alike. I won’t copy and paste a wedding timeline off the internet – your day will be custom mapped out especially for you! I take many things into consideration when planning your day: Is there travel time between the ceremony location and the reception? How close to the venue are you getting ready? Will you be sharing the first look? How many family members will be participating in the family photos portion of the day? Just to name a few of the moments I am mindful of on a wedding day.
The following are my rules for crafting a timeline that will ensure that your guests (and YOU) have a great time at your wedding,
Rule Number 1: Start Early
Like really early. If your wedding ceremony is at 4 pm, plan to begin hair and makeup around 9 am. What? Seven hours? That may seem insane, but trust me, making up a team of 6-9 people can take a long time. Wedding makeup and hair is an art and when done well takes time. This also allows you time to have a break, each lunch and make one last stop in the bathroom before getting into that dress.
This rule plays into how much of your day you will have coverage with your photographer. To get full day coverage, including getting ready photos through the most important reception moments, you will need a package with at least 8-10 hours. If you choose to have less coverage, it will be important to be strategic about when I am there to ensure your most important moments are preserved.
Rule Number 2: Put in Buffers
Wedding days are known for having little glitches. Groomsmen left his shoes in his trunk. Flowergirl spilled her basket of flowers. You forgot to eat breakfast. If you are working with a tight timeline, even the smallest hitch will cause stress. A well-executed timeline will build in pockets of time so when things get off course, you can breathe easy knowing you planned for moments such as these. For example, if hair and makeup are starting at 9 am, then I would include breakfast at 8 am. Also, be sure to make note of when preparations are scheduled to be finished so you have time for a quick snack before getting into your dress. If you are having a first look before the ceremony, plan to be in your dress, at least 20 minutes before the first look so that you have time for a quick touch up for makeup and hair before you go see your groom. Groomsmen are usually quick about getting dressed but build in time for them to have a bit of lunch before getting their tuxes. The added heat from wearing multiple layers can be extra difficult to bear if you haven’t eaten!
Another simple thing you can do while creating the timeline is to include location addresses. Having this information hand will save time and possible confusion by going to the wrong place. It is also a good idea to include key people’s phone numbers so that they can be reached in the case of an emergency. I like to list the best man and maid of honor, as well as the vendors and wedding coordinator. Sometimes all you need to stay on schedule is some quick communication with a vendor to let them know where your day stands.
Rule Number 3: Plan Plenty of Time for Portraits
At the end of the day, when the last linen has been folded and put away, and the flowers are beginning to wilt, what you have to look back on are your photos. Don’t skimp on this area of your wedding day – this is often the only time in years you will have a chance to take photos with loved ones who have travel great distances to be with you. Feeling rushed during this time can add stress and take away from the joy of your reunion. It is also easy for this time to run long which means without appropriate time in your schedule, photos of you and your newly minted spouse are often what suffers. When you are choosing images to display in your home, they are usually portraits of the two of you. A well-planned timeline will ensure you have plenty of time for both, without having your guests wait well into dinner our to get your party started.
Rule Numer 4: Talk to All Your Vendors
For your photographer to have beautiful detail photos, it is important to have all those vendors on the same timeline. Flowers should arrive during your getting ready period so they are ready for portraits as soon as everyone is dressed. This also allows your photographer to capture beautiful photos of them while they are still fresh.
Determine with your bakery when the cake will be onsite so your photographer can plan her reception photos before guests enter the room. I haven’t done the math, but I feel confident saying that reception photos are 100% more beautiful when they don’t have purses and coats hanging on the chairs!
Connect your DJ and your photographer. We work closely together to ensure that your wedding reception is both fun and documented well. It is important that they aren’t announcing the first dance while I have you out for one last sunset photo!
Rule Number 5: Ask Questions!
We don’t expect you to have all the answers! Your vendors do this every weekend, so we probably have answers to guide you through any areas of your timeline that you are unsure about. We are all invested in making sure your day is everything you dream of it being.