If you didn’t already know, you are probably figuring out that planning a wedding can be pretty freakin stressful and overwhelming. There are so many things to organize, plan, and coordinate. One of the most integral parts of your day, the timeline, can seem like an overwhelming feat to put together. Well, I am here to tell you that you are not alone! As a wedding photographer, I am a wedding day timeline pro, and I'm here to share some tips and tricks to help you create a stress-free and seamless timeline.
Start with the big picture
When creating a wedding day timeline, it's important to start with the big picture. Think about what time you want the ceremony to start, and work backwards from there. Consider how long the ceremony will be, how long it will take to travel between locations, and what time you want the reception to begin. This will give you a general idea of how much time you have to work with.
Take the sunset time into consideration
This is something photographers think about but often couples forget! The sunset time is so important to the timeline of your day, especially for your photos! The best time for couple photos is known as the golden hour and it occurs during the last hour before sunset. While it’s usually hard to schedule all of your photos at this time, I always recommend setting aside a small block of time during golden hour for your couple photos.
If you are having a fall or winter wedding keep an eye on those early sunset times! If you want outdoor portraits you may have to consider a first look so you can make sure you have enough time to get all the natural light photos you want before the sunset.
Leave buffer time
One of the biggest stressors on a wedding day is running late. To avoid this, it's essential to leave buffer time in your schedule. Plan for extra time between events, such as getting ready, taking photos, and traveling. If you are traveling in the city between locations I recommend extra buffer time due to unpredictable traffic conditions. You would always rather be early than stressed about running behind. This will give you a cushion in case things run longer than expected, and it will help keep you calm and relaxed throughout the day.
Communicate with your vendors
Communication is key when it comes to creating a stress-free wedding day timeline. Make sure to communicate with your vendors, such as your photographer, caterer, and DJ, to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Provide them with a detailed timeline and make sure they know where they need to be and when. This will help ensure that everything runs smoothly and according to plan.
Prioritize the must-have shots
As a wedding photographer, I know that there are certain shots that every couple wants. Whether it's a photo with the bridal party, a family portrait, or shots of the bride and groom alone, make sure to prioritize these must-have shots in your timeline. This will ensure that you get the shots you want and that there's enough time to capture them.
On average I like to schedule an hour for all formal photos into my couple’s timelines. Broken down this looks like: 30 minutes for family formals (12-15 groupings), 15 minutes for wedding party, and 15 minutes for couple photos.
As a documentary-style photographer, this is usually more than enough time for me but your photographer might recommend more time based on their style and experience. Also if you have a large family and are planning on including them all in your formal family photos you may need more than 30 minutes. I don’t recommend going over 45 minutes for your family's formal portraits, that is a long time for you and your family to be cheesing at the camera!
Remember to enjoy the moment
Finally, remember to enjoy the moment. Your wedding day will go by in a flash, so make sure to take time to savor the special moments. Don't worry about every little detail, and trust that your vendors have everything under control. Take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the happiest day of your life!
Creating a stress-free wedding day timeline is all about planning ahead, communicating with your vendors, and prioritizing the must-have shots. With a little bit of preparation and a lot of positivity, you can have a picture-perfect day that you'll cherish for years to come.