Having an efficient wedding day timeline can be the difference between an enjoyable, planned out day day and a frazzled, time-crunched one.
We’ve seen a lot of weddings, and a lot of approaches to planning out the day. Below are some tips we think will help when you’re trying to structure your big day!
1.) Timing. When figuring out how many hours to book your photographer, figure out the last event of your day (typically cutting the cake) and work backwards. 8 hours is usually the perfect amount of time, so if you’re cutting the cake at 9pm, you probably won’t need your photographer past 9:30. In this case, you’d have your photographer start at 1:30pm (eight hours before).
2.) Getting Ready. Plan for more getting-ready time than you think you’ll need. If your photographer is supposed to be at your location at 3:30 to start taking pictures, but you’re behind in getting ready, you will a) be losing time with your photographer (that you’re paying for) and b) have less photo opportunities.
3.) Pre-Ceremony Photos. Set aside at least an hour and a half for pre-ceremony photos if you’re only doing bridal parties, and at least 2 hours if you’re doing bridal parties and first looks (bride and groom seeing each other before the ceremony). If, for example, you’re only doing bridal parties and your ceremony begins at 5:30, you should be done taking photos and set to walk down the aisle at 5:15. So count back an hour and a half (3:45) and make sure all of your hair and makeup will be done and you will all be dressed and ready!
4.) Cocktail Hour. Plan a little bit of wiggle room in your cocktail hour if you don’t do first looks. Your photographer will be getting most of the photos right after the ceremony, during most of the cocktail hour. If the photographer needs a few more minutes to get those last photos but you have to head to the reception, you may lose out (another benefit to doing first looks!).
5.) Daylight. If your wedding is outside, plan all important things before sunset. Your photographer should be well-prepared to photograph in any kind of light, however natural light is going to give you the prettiest, most flattering photos.
6.) Travel Time. Account for time moving / commuting from one destination to another. You don’t want traffic to take away from photo ops.
7.) Wedding Planner. If at all possible, hire a wedding planner or coordinator. A lot of times people leave them out of their budget because they think they’ll do it themselves, but hiring a wedding coordinator means you’ll have a better shot at a smooth wedding day… not to mention less stress! A lot of venues actually provide a day-of-wedding planner, which is awesome.
8.) Ask Your Photographer! Finally, if you can’t hire a wedding planner, ask your photographer for help! We try and help all of our clients with a timeline that will help ensure a successful wedding day!