Every year clients have the same questions about building a wedding day timeline. Here for your reading enjoyment is version 4.0!!
A question I get quite a bit is how to plan an ideal timeline. Each of my couples has unlmited access to moi and I love having input in your timelines! Very soon I’ll be sending out the link to my new revised client site where I’ll have info for you all regarding when we should start looking at your timeline! 🙂 I’m doing a timeline review this weekend so it prompted me to re-post this guide to building your wedding day timeline. It’s a starting point for any of my couples and for those of you who weren’t lucky enough to snag me ( heehee 🙂 it’s a great way to start your planning!
Well, well, well! It seems some of you ladies are stumped on how to build the ideal wedding day timeline! Well be stumped no more! I am going to give you the basics of timelines!
Each timeline will have its commonalities and its distinctions, like every wedding! But the stepping stones are the same. I am going to assume while building your timeline that your day contains the following : getting ready, ceremony, family photos, wedding party photos, couple photos and a reception/dance. If you vary from this you’ll have a little more or less work to do. Now, this is just a framework for your basics. Please always consult with me if you have questions/ concerns about your wedding day! You all know where I am !;)
1. The first thing you need to consider is the time of year you are getting married. If you are getting married in the summer you have pretty much all the options open to you. If you are getting married in the fall or winter things get a little more limited! A fall or winter wedding means you will either need to have an earlier ceremony or do your photography before your ceremony if you wish to keep a later reception date. If your ceremony is after dark please note you will of course not be getting a light airy look in your church or ceremony location. If you choose to have no natural light in your photos the look will be reflective of that.
2. Your ceremony time is your anchor. Once you set that time, everything else slots itself accordingly. For example, lets’ say you are getting married in July. You set your ceremony time for 4 pm. Perfect. You can do all your photos after the ceremony or you can do a first look before hand and do family and wedding party after. If you are getting married in October at 4 pm you will want to do at least some of your photography before hand as by 7 pm in the fall, light gets pretty dim. What looks good to the naked eye isn’t necessarily good light to me. Remember when you used to be out playing and it looked light then your Mom called you in and you looked out and thought ” Dang, it’s dark out” It’s like that. The eye adjust light to make it psychologically pleasing. Cameras don’t! They tell the truth of what light is really there!
3. Do you want a first look? First looks rock. Seeing the bride/ groom before the ceremony is not bad luck! I haven’t had a single client regret it! Do you know where that tradition started? In the olden days the groom didn’t get to see the bride because marriages were arranged and the brides family didn’t want the grooms family backing out if she was “unacceptable” . Romantic! That said, a first look is not for everyone. If you are more traditional or want to save it for the ceremony, go for it! But if you wish to walk down the aisle fully present at your wedding or wish to have unrushed, emotional couples portraits and then zip to your cocktail hour after the wedding, they may be for you! Especially if you are getting married off-season!
4. Get organized. Decide early what elements will be in your day. Do you want me shooting you getting hair and makeup done? Garter toss? Games? Speeches? Nail down who is doing them and at what time. Plan out the flow of the reception months beforehand!
5. Where and what are we shooting? Make sure to plan 30 minutes for family, 20 for wedding party and 30 for couples shots. Add in any travel time if you are doing multiple locations!
6. I need time to shoot your decor! If you have a gorgeous wedding decor it means nothing if I have no time to shoot it! I need at least 20 minutes alone with your decor with no guests in the room. An easy way is to put them somewhere else for a cocktail hour. I can easily work around staff because they move fast and don’t stop to chat me up. Don’t get me wrong, I love your family but there’s people time and decor time and they don’t mix well. Unless you want aunt Susie’s butt in your cake shot?
7. Do a draft. Lay it out and see what it looks like. Send it do me. We will tweak it! Do this as early as possible. Really a rough timeline should be the foundation of your wedding planning. If things need to be changed people may need quite a bit of notice!
8. Add a few minutes to everything that involves groups of people. Trust me. They are happy, they are tipsy, they are like herding kittens on crack! That’s why wedding photography is not for un-Zen people who can’t go with the flow!
9. If it involves a baby or a Grampy, get it done first!
10. Don’t assume I can read your mind. I’m good but not that good. I once had a schedule given to me with a 4 hour gap in the middle where the bride then said ” You know, pictures and stuff”. The ” and stuff” becomes a mystery!
So… What does a timeline look like? Let’s go!
Typical 10 hour wedding coverage in July
12:00 Julie meets up with guys at Delta for getting ready
12:45 Julie meets girls at Made you Blush for makeup
1:30 Girls at Delta for getting dressed, wedding dress details, shoes, bouquet etc
2:15 Julie leaves for church
3:00 Ceremony begins
4:00 ceremony ends
4:20 Family Photos at Old Gov House
4:50 Wedding party Photos at Old Govt House
5:25 Bride and Groom leave with Julie and Steve to do couple shots downtown
5:30 Cocktail hour begins at Delta ( most of your guests will get theer 15-20 minutes early giving them an hour bewteen ceremony and cocktails)
6:15 Bride and Groom return to Delta, go up to room to refresh ( I shoot decor)
6:30 Guests Enter Reception
6:45 Wedding Party Arrive
7:00 MC outlines the evening ahead
7:00-8:30 Eating and Speeches ( i do additional ring shots, bouquet, anything that got put aside due to time or someone forgot to bring the X to the church etc while shooting speeches etc)
9:00 First dance bride and groom, first dance fathers, moms etc.
9:15 Cake cutting, garter toss, bouquet toss
9:30 I shoot 30 minutes of crazy dancing
10:00 I hug you goodbye and take some cake and go collapse.
And that’s a very basic timeline. And that’s assuming you’re not running late or the makeup lady no-showed etc! Yours may need tweaking! If you decide to do a first look then not so much time before the reception. If you do a receiving line you may need to add hours. they take at least 30 minutes! You may wish to travel to another location with your wedding party, have a huge family… all these things add time. There’s always a way to make it work but it takes communication early to get it done!! Having a good timeline in place makes me happy knowing I’m not off peeing while you cut the cake. Cause hey, I gotta pee sometime! 🙂
If you have questions shoot them off to me or if you feel the answers are of general interest just put them here in your comments.