Planning your day-of timeline for your wedding day is so much fun to do, and is also such a vital aspect of ensuring that your day goes smoothly and incorporates everything you want it to. As exciting as it is, I know that it can also feel a little daunting at times. Where do you even start?!
As an elopement and intimate wedding photographer, I always offer timeline assistance to the couples I work with, and there are many reasons why I do this.
1: On average, this is the first time my couples are planning a wedding, and they have no fricken idea where to start!
2: My couples have sooooo much going on that they don't have time to start drafting a timeline! I help them out by creating a base draft that we work off of and build together to make it customized for their big day.
And 3: Because I've been a photographer at so many weddings, a guest a good handful of weddings, and the host of my own wedding with my husband! I have the experience and knowledge to know how to create a good flow to a wedding day, and where to schedule in all the important details you want, especially if for the parts of your wedding day that you 1000% know you want your wedding photographer to document for you.
Ultimately, I provide this service to the couples I work with because it just makes sense to do it! Having a wedding day-of timeline that we all work on - and agree on - helps us to all be on the same page, which always leads to a more streamlined, easy-going wedding day for all involved. Win!
Now, if you've hired a wedding planner, and/or have a wedding day-of coordinator, they usually help you build out your wedding day-of timeline in even more depth. If that's the case, I know that your photographer would greatly appreciate it if you sent them a copy of your day-of timeline in advance of the wedding so that they feel as prepared as possible, and know where to be at what time. As simple as it may seem, I don't want to be in the restroom when you decide to the cut the cake! 🙈 Having a solid timeline for your wedding day will help prevent that situation from ever occurring.
I wanted to help you out today by providing you with 5 easy tips to help you plan your wedding day-of timeline. Whether you decide to work with me, or hire a planner/coordinator, these tips will help you feel more prepared going into the process so that you're ready to slay the wedding day-of timeline game!
So let's dive in!
5 Easy Tips to Plan Your Wedding Day-Of Timeline
1. List What You Want
2. Pick Your Ceremony Time
3. Determine Vendor Timeframes
4. Family Photo Combinations
5. Intentionally Scheduled Breaks
1. List What you Want
Before you really dive into the nitty gritty details of planning your wedding day-of timeline, it's important for you to know exactly what you want to include in it! Now I know this might sound obvious, but it is vital to the process. The last thing you want is to finish your timeline, only to realize you forgot a key aspect that you wanted to be a part of your day, and you have to adjust the timeline quite a bit to make it fit in. That can be so frustrating, especially after putting in the work to make your timeline perfect!
To prevent that, I want you and your partner to sit down together and write out everything you want included in your big day. Don't overthink it! Make sure to consider items such as:
hair and makeup arrives
wedding party announcements/introductions
fun wedding exit
Don't be afraid to put in obvious items, and don't forget to include any special, unique moments that you definitely want to make sure happen! Also, be conscious of aspects of your day that you definitely want your photographer and videographer to document! That will help you out during Tip #3.
My motto - in life, and in creating a wedding day-of timeline - is it's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
2. Pick Your Ceremony Time
Once you've listed out all the necessary and relevant parts of your wedding day, it's time to start constructing your wedding day-of timeline, woohoo! The best place to start when constructing your timeline is by determining the time your ceremony will take place. Why? Because your ceremony is the real heart of your wedding day, and we want to plan the day around it.
So how do you decide on a time for your ceremony? This does actually take some thought on you and your partner's side, as it's not advised to just pick a time out of thin air and roll with it haha. There are a few aspects to consider when choosing the time of your wedding ceremony:
What time of day will it be? Morning? Afternoon? Evening?
Lighting preferences / moods you're after (i.e light + airy, harsh + bold, soft + warm, etc)
Location - will your ceremony location be busy at different times of day?
Heat + Being Comfortable - will the time of day have an impact on you + your guests body temperatures and, therefore, effect how comfortable you all will be during the ceremony?
Priorities - are you and your partner big partiers and want to go late into the night? Do you love sunrise and want to get married as the sun comes up? Do you want to end the day in the afternoon rather than the evening? All things to consider!
From a wedding photographer's perspective, lighting has a huuuuuge impact on how your wedding photos will come out. Granted, a good wedding photographer feels comfortable and creative in all types of lighting scenarios, but do you feel comfortable having photos from any type of lighting?
Generally, if you get married in the middle of the day when the sun is at it's peak + hottest, there's generally quite a bit of squinting going on, and the lighting looks a little more bold and harsh, which can give it an edgy feel - perfect if that's what you're after!
The buttery, soft lighting tends to peak during the after after sunrise, and the hour before sunset (you'll often hear these ideal times referred to as "golden hour"). The sun isn't too strong at these times of day, which lends to softer, warmer lighting. These times also tend to be cooler, which can either be a good thing or a challenging aspect, depending on the time of year you plan to get married in.
3. Determine Vendor Timeframes
When your timeline for your wedding day is roughly drafted and you have sorted a way to fit everything you want included into your timeline, you want to consider when different vendors are arriving, what time they'll be finished/should be finished, and what they may need to be in attendance for. For example, you'll want to figure out how long your hair and makeup will take to figure out what time your wedding party will need to arrive, and also to ensure you are all up and ready at the appropriate time so it doesn't run too late. Similarly, you'll want to prioritize the aspects of your day that you want your wedding photographer to document for you. The Intimate Wedding photography collections I offer range from 6-8 hours of photographic coverage, which may be too long for you, or too little for what you want documented. You can always add more time with me, but if you'd like to stick to the base collection, you should figure out if getting ready photos are more important to you to be documented, or if dance floor/reception photos are more important - this will help you figure out what time frame to ask your wedding photographer to be present for.
Something to note: trust your vendors!! You've hired these professionals to be a part of your wedding day for a reason! Ask them for their advice when it comes to planning your timeline! Odds are they have done this A LOT and can offer up some really helpful info to make this process wayyyyyy easier for you, so definitely lean on your wedding vendors as they're there to help!!
4. Family Photo Combinations
An underrated aspect on your wedding day-of timeline is family photos! As your wedding photographer, I've got your back with this: I send over a big ol' document to you that goes over the nitty gritty details of your day, including your wedding day-of timeline AND your family photo combinations! This is soooo so important as a wedding photographer because family photos are generally taken right after the ceremony at the start of cocktail hour, and helloooooo, the obvious goal is to get you and your boo to cocktail hour ASAP so that you can relax with a drink and mingle with your favorite people!! Having a detailed list of family photo combinations is crucial to ensuring that you receive every combination you'd like, making sure they're high quality, but also taken efficiently to use your time wisely. On average, family photos take around 30 minutes for me, but can often take up less time with a solid combination list, and a cooperative group of people who are listening :)
If you decide to have a first look (highlyyyyy recommend!!), then you can also work the timeline so that your family photos are taken before the ceremony rather than afterwards! This helps maximize your cocktail hour to hang out with the people you invited for a reason, and alsoooo allows you to have some quality time with your partner before the ceremony, which helps with jitters and totally does not take away from the emotion of walking down the aisle towards your partner (if that's what you choose to do). Just some food for thought, but let me know if you'd like another blog post dedicated to First Looks!
5. Intentionally Schedule Breaks
This moves us along nicely into point number 5, which is to intentionally schedule breaks in your wedding day-of timeline to spend some quality time with your new spouse! Wedding days go by so fast because you're having the best time, so savoring little moments throughout the day really help slow time down a bit, and allow you to soak it all in. Some great ways to do this include:
having a relaxed getting ready timeline so that you don't feel rushed
deciding to do a first look with your partner before the ceremony so that you're able to get some of the jitters out, have a beautiful moment for portrait photos together, and to take a deep breath together and say, "holy sh*t, we're about to do the dang thing!"
After the ceremony, you can sneak away quickly for 5 minutes while your family is being corralled for family photos - the perfect time to soak up the moment in quiet together to celebrate the fact that you just got married!
Right before you enter the reception - again, a great time for some alone time
During dinner + dancing - I personally made a point on my wedding day to take time to just look around me, take a few breaths, and be present in the moment to acknowledge that my favorite people were all in one place, and to look down at my finger to see how the extra ring looked on it ;)
There you have it! 5 Easy Tips to plan your Wedding Day-Of Timeline!
I hope this blog post has helped you feel a little more prepared to tackle the planning of your wedding day-of timeline, and that you feel more empowered by the choices you have in customizing your day to suit you and your partner best! I'd love to know if you have any tips that you've found helpful as well when it comes to planning your wedding timeline, so definitely let me know all the juicy info in the comments!
Thanks so much for reading!
The Francis Frames