When you think about the details of your wedding, it’s easy to get caught up in the small touches - like handmade signs, personalized place settings, and signature cocktails. And, while important, one of the most critical details of wedding planning, the wedding day timeline, is often overlooked simply because it’s not actually visible to your guests. However, just because it can’t be seen doesn’t mean that it can’t be felt.
When planned properly, the wedding day timeline is what allows the entire day to go smoothly, giving professionals, like caterers and photographers, as well as your guests, the information they need to know what’s happening and when. Planning this timeline is also beneficial for the bride and groom because it ensures that nothing important gets forgotten - and that you never run out of time.
As professional photographers, we’ve learned that there are six super important aspects of your wedding day timeline that you need to consider. This information helps us know when you need us, where you need us, and exactly how long you actually need us to be at your wedding.
Getting Ready Photos. Many couples love having photos that show them and their wedding parties getting ready. These intimate photos, which often happen at a venue different from the wedding, help to create a stunning collection of wedding photographs and allow couples to remember every moment. Knowing if you want these photos will help you determine if you need one or two photographers (one for the bride and one for the groom) and if you need more time with your photographers in order to capture these moments.
First Look Photos. Traditionally, the first look happens as the bride walks down the aisle. And, while many couples still choose to honor this tradition, many couples today want to capture the moment in a more private setting. If you are wanting first look photos, be sure to include this in your wedding day timeline. Most couples who choose a “first look” session, ensure there is ample time between getting ready and the start of the ceremony.
Cocktail Hour. Do you want to allow your guests to enjoy cocktail hour while you and your family take portraits? Or, do you want to enjoy cocktail hour with your guests? This decision will determine the rest of your wedding day timeline. If you choose to enjoy cocktails, then planning another time for portraits (that is, of course, if you want portraits) is crucial.
First Dances. Letting your photographer know if you are doing traditional first dances (and how many) is important so that they are ready to capture the moment. If there are multiple first dances (bride and groom, bride and father, groom and mother, etc.), then you’ll want to make sure you’ve budgeted enough time so that your photographer doesn’t miss anything.
Big Surprises. While it’s fun to surprise your guests, keeping your photographer in the loop makes sure that they are ready when the big reveal happens. Whether it’s a live band, a rehearsed rap, or a grand exit, give your photographer a timeline that includes these moments.
Sunset Portraits. Knowing how much time you need with your photographer is important. If you are wanting sunset portraits (a great opportunity to get intimate shots or family shots, especially if you take part in cocktails), then be sure to budget for a longer session with your wedding photographer. In many cases, getting the best sunset shots require a slight change in location, so budget timewise for that as well.
Taking the time to plan your wedding day timeline down to the details ensures that you, your guests and all of your hired professionals don’t miss a thing. And, remember, your wedding day timeline should keep everyone relaxed - not on edge - so give yourself plenty of time between moments so that there’s never any stress. Want to make sure no detail of your day is overlooked? Consider hire a wedding planner and they’ll take care of your timeline for you! We can recommend a few if you need help.