The number one thing that my brides ask me about is how to make a wedding day timeline. And seriously, I LOVE that they ask because when I get to help build it from the ground up, I get in on important decisions around photography that helps make sure I get enough time to do my job and they get images they love. Building a great wedding timeline is truly the key to having a great wedding day. The secret is making sure you’re scheduling enough time to get everything done, extra time for just in case situations (things will happen), and communicating your timeline to everyone involved before your wedding day so everyone is on the same page.
Here are some tips I give my brides to start the process of making a wedding day timeline.
Hair : talk to your hair stylist about how many heads of hair she’ll be doing as well as how long she needs for each person. Having the bride go last is usually best, as that ensures she looks super fresh for pictures. This is usually when I’m arriving and shooting details as well. I shoot the dress and small details while the bride is having her hair done, popping in occasionally to photograph it in stages. I’m usually finished with the bride’s details in time for finishing touches on her hair. The brides hair typically takes about 1 hour from start to finish.
Makeup : Again, it’s best to talk with your makeup artist about how many faces she’ll be doing. Again, it’s best for the bride’s makeup to be done closest to photo times as well. Makeup typically takes 40-60 minutes depending on the style.
Padding Time: I always suggest padding time. I like to add 15-20 minutes of padding time in between each event so that leaves plenty of time for breathing room. As the day goes on, those minutes can really add up if you’re early or can be used up if things are running behind without it affecting the actual timeline too much.
Eating: If you and your bridal party are going to be busy during meal times, it’s great to plan for meals. Having sandwiches catered for lunch, coffee and muffins delivered mid-morning, and having snacks handy like granola bars and maybe a few sweets can help keep energy levels up for you and your bridal party and help make sure no one passes out. (It’s totally happened, the passing out part.)
Hiding: Make sure you’ve got plenty of padded time in your timeline to keep the bride in hiding for about 1 hour prior to ceremony start time. Many guests arrive super early to weddings to make sure they get a great seat and have time to visit with their friends.
Reception: It’s great to have a plan for your reception. Having a set time for special dances, cake cutting, toasts, bouquet and garter tosses and your get away can help ensure your reception flows smoothly.
Now comes the fun part:
Pictures: Pictures are honestly the staple of your wedding timeline. Making sure your photographer has enough time to capture everything and capture it WELL is a huge key to your wedding planning. I’ve you’ve got videographers, it’s great to communicate with them as to what they need as well, but most are able to flow right along with what the photographer needs and they work in filming right along side.
Here’s what I recommend for every wedding:
45 minutes for small details (shoes, invitations, jewelry, rings, stationary, hanging up the dress, bouquets, etc.)
45 minutes for finishing touches on hair and makeup, getting ready candids.
15-20 minutes for getting dressed (this always takes longer than 5 minutes. It’s all about getting that dress just right, putting those shoes on, getting the veil situated, etc.
1 hour for first look and bride and groom portraits
45 minutes for bridal party : individuals, bridesmaids, groomsman and full bridal party shots.
45 minutes for family photos: bride’s side first, groom’s side last.
20-30 minutes reception details: the cakes, the centerpieces, wide shots of the empty room all set up.
Then comes the Ceremony, Reception and Getaway which are all shot documentary style as they happen.