Ohh, the wedding day timeline. Its something you may be putting off until the final weeks leading up to the big day for several reasons. One, because it's certainly not the most fun part of the planning process, and two, it sounds simple enough, right? Not so much! Us planners can tell the difference between a thorough and realistic wedding day timeline versus those which could potentially cause major wedding day hiccups.
Given that photography plays a major role over the course of the entire wedding day, I've asked some of the DC area's best wedding photographers for their tips on timelines to give you insight from both a planner and photographer's perspective. Read on to learn five must have tips to ensure your timeline is on point for the big day!
1. You need ONE master timeline
Decide early on which of your vendors is going to prepare your master timeline. Ideally, it should be your wedding planner working in conjunction with your photographer - someone who is going to manage your day from the moment you begin hair and makeup to the last dance at the end of the reception. I have seen brides with different timelines from their photographer, their venue, their caterer and their DJ and while it's great to have all this help, too many cooks in the kitchen can be a recipe for disaster! Think about it - if one vendor's timeline is even 10 minutes off from someone else's, it will cause a domino effect of a delay that trickles down for your entire day. This is why it's super important to have one timeline, and to share and review that timeline with your vendor team to ensure everyone is on the exact same page. For all of my clients, whether Event Management or Full Planning, I review the timeline in detail with each vendor and receive their input before finalizing.
2. Be generous with time for dress and prep
Once your hair and makeup is complete, you will need to figure in a block of time for getting on your dress. To help get a realistic estimate, I suggest timing how long it takes to get your dress and shoes on at your final dress fitting appointment; then add sufficient time for bridal portraits on top of that. Bonnie, of Bonnie Sen Photography shared, "the most common mistake is not leaving some time for bridal portraits and putting on the dress. I like to draw it out to 30 to 45 minutes to include some posed photos of just the bride before seeing anyone."
Photographer Dyanna LaMora pointed out the importance of allowing enough prep time for your bridesmaids, as well. "Make sure you leave extra room for the bride and all her bridesmaids to get ready in the morning. If the girls run late with hair and makeup, the whole day can go off schedule and there will be less time for photos."
3. Determine the sunset time
If you plan to do any wedding photos outdoors, its important to include the sunset time in your timeline. This will help guide the best time in terms of lighting for newlywed and wedding party photos. Bonnie recommends outdoor photos take place 30 minutes before sunset in the city, or 15 minutes before sunset in an open landscape.
Depending on your wedding month, the sunset time will also help determine when your ceremony should begin and end, to allow your photographer enough time to capture those sought after golden hour photos!
4. Know the length of toasts in advance
Be sure to ask your best man, maid of honor, or anyone else giving a toast to time it out so you can include this in your timeline. Better yet, give your wedding toasters a time limit to keep their speeches under! Three to five minutes per speaker is ideal. There's nothing that throws your timeline off more than a speech or surprise photo slide show presentation at a wedding that lasts for 45 minutes; and yes, it happens all the time! Communicating expectations with everyone involved in your wedding day, especially those speaking, is key to managing your timeline.
5. Leave sufficient time for newlywed and group photos
Many couples underestimate the time it takes to capture newlywed, family and wedding party photos. The more generous you are with your photo time, the better! Dyanna suggests, "60 minutes for bride and groom, 30 minutes for bridal party, and 30 minutes for family formals is ideal." In many cases, you can manage this time by doing a first look and having your wedding party photos taken BEFORE the ceremony, then newlywed and family photos taken after the ceremony during cocktail hour.
I hope these tips are helpful! What other timeline tips or questions do you have? Let us know the comments below!
Images: Dyanna LaMora & Dani Leigh Photography