What to Consider When Planning Your Wedding Day Timeline

How to plan your wedding day timeline

Planning your wedding day timeline right will help you really enjoy your day without feeling stressed or rushed. Below are 8 things to consider when planning your wedding day timeline! Just make sure you check with your vendors, wedding planner, and the venue before putting anything in stone.

1. What time is sunset? If you're having an outdoor ceremony, the sunset is a really big deal. You'll want to think about what time the ceremony is, how long it is, and allow enough time for outdoor portraits before the sun sets. As a rule of thumb, at 30 minutes before sunset it's already too dark for formal portraits. You want to be finishing up all portraits at least 30 minutes before sunset, and then if you'd like to you can get some more creative shots after that during those 30 minutes of blue light.

2. What happens if it rains? How does the timeline change? If it's an outdoor wedding, how much time will you need to add if it rains? How does the timeline change? 

3. Consider how many family photos you want to do. I always say to make sure budget around 2-3 minutes for each family photo you want. 

My best advice, though, is to consider whether or not you actually want the photos you're taking. Is it going to end up in a frame, or is it just something to check off the list and end up in a folder somewhere where no one will look at it? 

I love family photos, but they can take a LOT of time (especially if you're making a list of 50+ different options). Usually we do family photos first, then the couple photos. But if there are too many family photos, by the time couple photos come around your face is tired and you're kind of over it and ready to get to the party. So make sure you're not wearing yourself out with too many family photos!

Your other option is to do couple photos before family photos, but usually I suggest the opposite just because it's so much easier to do family photos right after the ceremony when everyone is already in one place, rather than searching for everyone and trying to wrangle everyone to the right spot.  

How to plan your wedding day timeline

4. Are you planning on having a first look before the ceremony? I love the first look. It's a great way to get a few extra photos of you and partner, and it's usually in a different place from the rest of the portraits with different light so it's a nice alternative. There are a lot of emotions and the photos always end up being so genuine, so I definitely recommend it. 

I just did a first look on Saturday where the couple took a moment alone with their 5-6 dogs (amazing) and had gifts for each other. Depending on what you plan to do during your first look (if you want to read cards to each other, give gifts, or just simply see each other), it should take around 15 minutes. If you're doing a first look, make sure you put in your timeline and think about what time you need to be fully dressed to be ready it!

5. Add buffers. Add extra time to things like getting ready and taking family photos.You never know who you'll have to go wrangle or if you're going to forget your tie at home and have to go get it or whatever. Things happen!

6. Are you going to have a DJ? Sticking close to the timeline without a DJ is more difficult because the DJ is there to announce things and get things moving, especially during the reception. If you don't have a DJ, just make sure your wedding planner or really organized type A friend is there to help you stay on the timeline so everything gets done and you don’t miss any photos or anything because you’ve only booked 6 hours of coverage, not 8.

Fun wedding decor

7. Think about the flow of the reception. You can have 3 hours of dancing straight through but it can be easier to have a few thing happen in between dinner and the end time like speeches, toasts, and activities like a generational dance or bouquet toss if you choose to do anything like that. It can be nice to space things out to keep the party moving and flowing.

8. Consider doing anything sentimental like speeches early on in the reception. That way, older folks, anyone with kids, etc. still be part of it and if they need to leave early they can without feeling like they missed out on too many things. 

In general, make sure all of your vendors have an opportunity to look at the first draft of the timeline to let you know if you're missing anything, and of course make sure your vendors have a copy of the final timeline.

And if you're looking for a photographer for your wedding, contact me here and let's chat!