Your wedding day timeline is one of the most important factors in ensuring you have a stress-free wedding day. Every wedding I’ve ever shot has some type of unexpected event or scenario, which can cause the timeline to run behind. By taking into account some simple tips, you can help to avoid those pitfalls so that when things don’t go exactly as planned, it doesn’t cause panic or stress. Below are 5 tips that will help you to create your own timeline!
1. Ask people to arrive 15 minutes before they need to be there
Murphy’s Law often rules on the day of your wedding, and when it comes to making sure people arrive for hair and makeup, or portraits, or anything like that, my best recommendation is to tell them to be there earlier than they need to be. Even if you have the most punctual bridal party in the history of bridal parties, I’ve seen it at every wedding – someone forgets something at home, someone else gets stuck in traffic, and so on. You’ll save yourself some worry if you just tell people to show up earlier than they need to on your wedding day.
2. Add extra time for hair and makeup (at least a half an hour)
This is NOT because all hair and makeup people run behind – quite the contrary! But this follows the rule of when others are involved, your chances of things running behind increase. This might be because of lateness, this might be because someone doesn’t like her hair and makeup and it has to be redone, it might simply be because the averages for hair and makeup time per person don’t work for your group. In any case, when weddings run behind, this is the culprit in 90% of the cases, and typically no other events take place until it is done, which cuts into your overall time (usually for portraits). The worst case scenario is you’re finished a little early and can enjoy a beverage of your choice before you get dressed!
3. Lean on your wedding photographer to help you figure out how much time you need for portraits
This is one part of the day that really needs to be carefully planned. There are 3 types of portraits on a wedding day: bride and groom portraits, bridal party portraits, and family portraits. When these will fall will depend on a few things: if you’re having a first look, what time the sun sets on your wedding day, if your ceremony takes place at one location and you have a couple of hours before you have to be at your reception, among other things. Many photographers ask for between 2-3 hours for portraits, so this is something that needs to be addressed with their guidance. This will be an especially important consideration if your wedding takes place in the winter, where the sun sets around 4:00 p.m. I often start working with my couples on their timelines as soon as I’m hired – the sooner we can nail down these times, the better!
4. Even if it’s not a major wedding day event, put it in your timeline
You don’t need to detail your timeline to death, but putting certain items in will ensure you account for them, and that they also get done! Some of these items include breakfast (a must!), time to sign the marriage license, and even something like you and your wife or husband getting a few private minutes to see your reception site for the first time, before your guests enter the space. None of these events should take a long time, probably no longer than 5-10 minutes, but short segments can add up on your wedding day and put you behind.
5. A day-of-coordinator or a wedding planner is your best friend
Every couple has a budget, and this is one item that sometimes doesn’t make the cut. In my opinion, hiring a day-of-coordinator or wedding planner is one of the very best decisions you can make on your day! This person is worth his or her weight in gold, not only in experience with weddings, but in the recommendations they can make that will help your day run smoothly. A great coordinator will take a ton of stress off of you as they become the point person for keeping things running on time, and in always having a backup plan. This is one vendor type I always, always recommend to my clients!
So that’s it! 5 tips for your wedding day timeline. I hope you found this useful!
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