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Planning Your Wedding Timeline - Part 1

Planning your wedding day timeline can seem pretty simple. You need a ceremony time, a reception time... and that's about it, right? There are so many details when it comes to creating a wedding day timeline that it can feel overwhelming, but it is critical to creating a wedding day that both you and your guests can enjoy. You need to make decisions like: Will you have a receiving line? What do you do right after you are announced at the reception? How early should you start getting ready?


As a wedding photographer, I have seen all sorts of timelines, and each couple does things a little differently, but here are some things you should consider when creating your wedding day timeline:


Getting Ready/ Before the Ceremony

Aim to be completely ready for the wedding at least one hour prior to ceremony time. (I would LOVE to see brides ready 2 hours before the ceremony if possible!) This is one of the biggest days of your life. You want to close your eyes and smile as you get your hair curled, take your time making sure your lipstick is on point, and savor the moment that your mom helps you into your wedding gown. How your day goes before the ceremony sets the tone for the rest of the day. Here are some tips to have the morning you've always dreamed about:

  • Expect everything to take longer than you think. If you think your hair will take 30 minutes, budget in 1 hour. Plan for extra time everywhere. It's always better to be early than late.

  • Sip on some coffee, a mimosa, or something that makes you feel happy.

  • Wear something that makes you feel pretty. You'll be having your photos taken while getting ready, so consider wearing a cute robe.

  • Do something special for your fiancé. I always recommend writing eachother notes to read before the ceremony for two reasons. Most importantly, it calms you down, makes you feel so much joy, and reminds you of what really matters on this day... the love of your life. Second of all, it gives you a memento to always hold on to, and creates some really authentic portraits.


The Ceremony

I have two tips for the ceremony.

1. Everyone always wants to know how long they take. That's really up to you, but normally ceremonies last 30 minutes to 1 hour.

2. If your ceremony start time is 1:30 on the invitation, your real start time needs to be 1:45. People naturally run a few minutes late. You don't want someone missing your important moment or interrupting you walking down the aisle. Start the music at 1:30, and have that going for 15 minutes before the real start time.


Post-Ceremony... the most critical time!

After the ceremony, you need a game plan. Will you go to each aisle and release everyone? Will you have a receiving line? However you do this, you need to allow time in your wedding day timeline. For example, if your wedding starts at 12:30, I've seen couples plan to start portraits at 1:00 since it's only a 30 minute ceremony. Really, your portrait start time should be more like 1:30 - 2:00 by the time you allow 15 minutes of wiggle room on your ceremony start time and you greet each guest.

  • Have a round up plan! One of the biggest time suckers for portrait photography is attempting to round up all of the family members. Make sure you have clearly communicated with anyone you want to be in the pictures where they are supposed to be immediately following the ceremony. This eliminates running around, chasing people down, anyone missing out on a photo, and gets you to your reception quickly.


When Can We Party?

I can't tell you an exact number of hours to start your reception after your ceremony, as it depends on 4 major factors: number of guests, family size, wedding party size, and whether or not you have a first look.


The key here is to make sure you allow plenty of time for your portraits, and to communicate with your photographer as early as possible. They should be able to help you adjust your plan and offer valuable advice.


Planning your reception timeline is a whole other post, so stay tuned for the next post: Planning Your Reception Timeline.


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©2019 by Taylor Snowman Photography

Central IL Photographer