When it comes to your wedding day, something you might not think about having to figure out is the timeline. As a guest at a wedding, you don’t really think about the timing or flow of events – you just go from ceremony to reception & enjoy! When it comes time for your own wedding, you realize pretty quickly how many things are included in the timeline & it can seem a little overwhelming at first (especially if event planning isn’t something you’re used to doing!).
If you’re working with a planner, they will be able to help you nail down a timeline for your day. Having a detailed plan allows all of your vendors to make sure they are on the same page to make your day go as smoothly as possible!
When you’re working on detailing out your timeline (whether it’s you or your planner), I recommend making sure your photographer is able to chime in as well. Your photographer is going to be the expert when it comes to how much time is needed to capture various parts of the wedding day, and can collaborate with your planner to make sure everything is lined out to provide ample time for each portion while reducing stress! If there are certain photos that mean the most to you (getting ready, details, bride & groom portraits, etc.), be sure to mention that to your planner & photographer so that they can be sure to build in sufficient time for those topics in particular!
If you aren’t working with a planner, don’t get overwhelmed at the thought of breaking everything down for a timeline. I always send a tentative timeline to my brides & grooms so that they have a starting place to go from, and can see how their selected amount of wedding day coverage will span the day’s events.
Here are a few tips for planning your wedding day timeline:
- Break the day into sections (pre-ceremony, ceremony, & reception) to make it more manageable. Then look at just one section at a time & take a break once it’s planned!
- Know what you want. Will you be doing a first look? Will you be doing a father-daughter first look? Do you want group shots of you & your bridesmaids during getting ready (think matching cute robes or monogrammed button downs!) & once you’re dressed? Are you doing something unique for your exit that you want to be sure you have in photos? Knowing all of the key moments that are important to you (outside of the ceremony) will be really helpful in making sure you can have intentional time scheduled for them!
- Give yourself some cushion. One of my favorite things is when the timeline includes a bit of a breather for my bride & groom (& the rest of the bridal party) prior to the ceremony. I’ll be using that time hard at work photographing ceremony or reception details while you all get to relax, grab a bite to eat, or sip a coffee (or mimosa) real quick. Having a bit of blank time prior to the ceremony also allows some cushion if getting ready took longer than expected, and portraits need to get pushed back a bit.
- Ask the experts. You’ve selected vendors that you love & trust, so let them help you plan the timeline! As wedding vendors, we do this all the time, but you shouldn’t have to feel like you need to be a pro at timeline structure. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in getting it all figured out!
- Plan ahead, but be flexible. Wedding days always have curveballs that can throw a timeline off a little bit, and that’s ok! As your wedding photographer, I am prepared to be flexible (and after more than a decade of planning & running major events, I’ve gotten pretty darn good at adjusting throughout the day!).
For more in the For Brides series, check out these posts:
It’s engagement season (which I don’t know that I’d really recognize if I wasn’t a wedding photographer), and my heart is so full thinking of all of the couples grinning every time they try out the word “fiancé”!!
Wedding planning can be an intense experience. Some people LOVE it. Some people just want it to be over. Some couples plan everything together. Some couples have one party who doesn’t make a single decision. Regardless of the way wedding planning looks for you, it’s still easy to get caught up in it. To lose sight of the marriage in light of the wedding day details. To lose sight of your partner in light of vendor emails and Pinterest boards.
So if you’re one of the lucky ones who recently said “Yes!” (or just nodded through happy sobs), here are a few tips from my heart to yours to keep your focus where it should be:
- If you’re a to-do list kinda person, build in a meaningful reward that involves your soon-to-be spouse once you cross a certain number of things off the list. Ex: For every 3 vendors you lock in, plan a special date like a gourmet pancake baking competition or re-creating your first official date. The intentional time together will start to build a good habit of continuing to date each other, and the rewards will be so good, you’ll blow through that to-do list in no time!
- Sit down together & really think about what you want life to look like in 5, 10, 20, 50 years. Then look at what keeps coming up – is it time with family? Is it traveling to new places together? Whatever it is, come up with a plan for how you’ll make that happen together, and start now!
- Think about your favorite things – maybe it’s waffles with peanut butter & chocolate chips, or maybe it’s old, weathered hardback novels about love & life. Then incorporate those things into your wedding or reception. Have a waffle bar for dessert. Pick your favorite quote from a classic love story to include in your wedding vows.Figuring out how you can bring your favorite things into your wedding day helps remind you of the things that make your fiancé who they are & why they’re the only one for you. Having them present on the day you say “I do” brings a deeper sense to your details & reminds you that it’s just one day – and the truly important thing is the life ahead of you.
- Take one 0r two days off every week from planning. Don’t open the binder or the spreadsheet. Don’t email, call or meet with vendors. Take the time off from planning to be with the one you love & remember that the wedding isn’t life.
For more in the For Brides series, check out these posts:
Right after moving down to Kingwood, I got an email from Peanut’s school searching for a volunteer to step up to be the head volleyball coach for the middle school girls. Now, I played volleyball for a long time, and I loved it. But coaching? Never.
Before I could really think about it too much, I figured I’d go ahead and go for it since I have more time than I ever have before (and may have again). And the thought of those girls not getting to play just hurt my heart.
And you know what I’ve loved about it? While I am trying to figure out how to coach rather than play, it’s been so good to try to remember the beginning.
When you’ve done something for years and years, it’s easy to forget the struggle at the start.
It’s easy to forget how it’s hard to make your body do what you know it should do. It’s easy to forget that the movements aren’t really instinctive, they must be learned. It’s easy to forget that it takes a lot of effort to remember the rules.
And in the middle of all this, a photographer I look up to immensely (as do THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of other photographers) took a few seconds to leave a positive comment on an Instagram photo of mine.
And that right there, paired with my hours in the gym at volleyball practice, made me appreciate just how important it is to remember the beginning. But even more important than remembering is taking the time to reach back and help those who are in the thick of the start. To encourage them and pour into them – even if it’s in as few as two words.
And then maybe, someday down the line when they’ve grown out of their beginning, just maybe they’ll take the time to reach back too.
If you’re not already following along on Instagram, I’d love to have you come join me! You can find me @bmariephoto – be sure to leave a comment and say hi!