How to Plan a Seamless Wedding Day Timeline
So it's time to plan your wedding day timeline.. are you feeling a bit overwhelmed? Don't worry. Take a deep breath, it doesn't have to be difficult. I know we've written about this before, really summed it up with a bow. But today we're going to walk you through the process of how we build our timelines.. plain and simple.
To begin, we ask our couples a few key questions. It gets the gears turns and pieces start to fall into place.
1. Do you want getting ready photos?
Obviously this is an important one, and will effect not only the photographer's timeline, but will effect where you get ready as well. When you're planning you day, keep in mind what the getting ready space looks like for your photographer. Not only will you want a nice bright space, but you're going to want to keep it fairly clean as well. Do you want a bunch of food and trash in the background of your getting ready photos? Probably not! There's only so much we can do.
2. Will you be doing a first look?
There's no right or wrong answer to doing a first look. Can't decide.. I've got a whole blog post on that here. It simply will effect the beginning of your day and the timing of events. Obviously if there's a first look, you'll have to allow for more time BEFORE the ceremony.
3. Are your ceremony and reception in the same place? How far away are you getting ready from your ceremony?
These questions are all about travel time. Although it stinks, travel time HAS to be built into your timeline.. and be lenient! Is it a Saturday afternoon by the beach? Yeah, you're gonna wanna leave a few extra minutes there. These are all things to consider when you build the timeline. No minute can go unaccounted for!
4. What time is the ceremony?
Now I start to get to nailing down the times. I always start with the ceremony time, and work my way out from there. Why? Well the ceremony time doesn't change. I build in about 15 minutes before the ceremony as a "wrap up" every time. This is for two reasons.. *just in case* things run over so nobody is stressed about getting to the ceremony on time, and so that the couple has a few moments to collect themselves before the ceremony.
5. Are you having a cocktail hour?
The answer is almost always yes, but I have to ask! Normally, what happens during cocktail hour depends on the answers to the questions above. If there was a first look, we have hopefully gotten a bunch of portraits already and can take some more time for wedding party and family photos. If there was no first look we have to plan to do all wedding party, family photos, and couple's portraits during cocktail hour. We are a well oiled machine at that point!
6. What's the timeline of events for the reception?
I always ask this question to make sure we are not missing any of the formalities or important parts of the reception if we don't stay for the duration. For example, I ALWAYS make sure we get the first dance, toasts, parent dances, etc. And of course we love to get some dancing photos too.
I do tell my couples that as a general rule of thumb, they can shave off time at the end of the reception and add it to the beginning of the day for getting ready photos if they need to. They do not need their photographers there for the duration of their reception if their package hours to not allow.
7. What time does the sun set?
Google is a magical thing that lets you check sunset times in any town like years in advance. I always check this to make sure we are planning outdoor portraits for couples at the right time. I also like to see if we can steal the couple away at some point for some *golden hour* or sunset photos if the sky is looking pretty!
Once we talk through these major questions, things sort of fall into place. We agree on a time that the photographers should arrive and leave. And of course if things change we always chat.
I hope this helps at least one stressed couple feel a bit of ease in the planning process. I promise it doesn't have to be difficult!
Until next time, live creatively friends!