Creating a well thought out timeline for your wedding day will help ensure that the day runs smoothly, all vendors are on the same page and dinner comes out on time.
While my favorite wedding moments are unscripted and don’t make it onto a wedding day timeline, sitting down with a client and walking them through a timeline is an important part of the planning process for me. I’ve been to many weddings and have seen what works and what doesn’t. Some weddings are not so tightly scheduled and couples can flow through the day. This is a dreamy scenario, but not always available when you are feeding lots of guests! Below are some of the questions I ask when working on a timeline with clients.
What time does the ceremony start? I start here. and work backward. The ideal ceremony time starts as the sun begins to drop so that the photos that follow are in the pretty light. Ceremony time is sometimes dependent on the venue, so make sure to check with your venue about timing. Also, consider the timing of dinner so you have plenty of time for your formal photos.
Plan to start your photography two hours before the ceremony so that you get detailed shots of your dress, invitation, jewelry, venue, etc. These are some of my favorite photos of the people who are most important to you on your day. I consider it the beginning of the wedding day story. It’s also a chance for your photographer to get acquainted with your wedding party and friends. I like to take this time to get my creative juices flowing!
Are you doing a first look? If you are doing a first look, great! We will have plenty of time for photos before the ceremony. If you are not doing a first look, great! You will have the moment you’ve dreamed of when you see each other for the first time. I’m fine with whatever you choose, but if you are doing a first look before the ceremony, make sure you know what time your dress will go on and have a general idea of where it will take place so you can place according. If you are doing formal family and wedding party photos before the ceremony (suggested if you are doing a first look) make sure that everyone is very clear about where they need to be, when. This should be communicated as many times as possible. I also suggest putting a family member in charge on each side so that you aren’t worried about someone going missing during this time.
How big is your list of family photos? I love to see the list of family photos a week or two before the wedding. This information can be passed along through the questionnaire I send out. If you are doing extended family photos with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents on four sides, be sure to leave plenty of time to get the combinations on your list. The more cooperative everyone is during this time, the quicker they can get to the party and. For later in the day or winter weddings, having a cooperative family and an efficient plan will ensure that you have the best light for your photos together.
I suggest giving yourself 30 minutes to tuck away before the ceremony. This is a chance for you to calm your nerves, drink some water and take some breaths before the start of your ceremony. It will also keep you hidden from your guests when they start arriving. If you are running behind, you know you have 30 minutes built into your timeline to catch up.
Sunset photos – Check the time of sunset on your wedding day and put it on your timeline. If you plan on sneaking away for sunset photos (suggested!) it may mean that you have to sneak off during dinner, or for summer weddings if usually fits in just before or after toasts.
Ideally, I like to have at least one hour of open dance floor coverage after. The first hour of dancing is typically the most energetic and fun.
Make sure you are clear on when you can arrive at your venue and when you have to clear out. This should be documented on your timeline.
Be generous with how much time you need to get from point A to point B. Be aware of anything that is happening on that day (especially for Boulder weddings in the fall when there may be football games!)
Sample Timeline with First Look
1:30 arrive for photos of details / girls getting ready
2:00 photos of guys getting ready
2:30 dress goes on / photos with bridesmaids
2:45 first look
3:00 photos of b+g
3:20 wedding party photos
3:40 family photos (immediate)
4:00 tucked away / resting
5:00 extended family photos
5:20 bride + groom photos
5:40 cocktail hour
6:00 bride and groom arrive at cocktail hour
6:30 seated for dinner
6:45 welcome / dinner starts
8:00 first dances
8:15 sunset photos
8:30 open dance floor
9:30 photog departs
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