April 7, 2018
Wedding days are filled with so much beauty. There is a sort of natural unfolding of sentimental exchanges: hearts are touched and happy tears flow, families are united, friends laugh together… The tables are carefully set, the flowers are arranged, the dresses are steamed… Letters are exchanged, the groom buys his bride a gift she’ll cherish forever, and a daddy wipes his tears away with a embroidered hanky given to him by his little girl… Every moment is special and worthy of being remembered. It’s a sacred time. However, I know for many of my brides, these heart-filling moments can feel few and far between when the schedule for their day doesn’t go as planned (or, sometimes it goes even worse if there is no plan at all)!
I have seen some of the most beautiful, elegant, and luxury of weddings in my career become days marked with quick-paced running around, cutting special moments out of the itinerary on the fly, and watching my bride stress because of faulty timeline planning. This is not what I want for my brides! This is why I spend time with every Shea Brianne Bride going over her itinerary with her months before her wedding day. Not to be controlling, but because I know from experience that the timeline is crucial to the outcome of the day, and my number one goal is for my bride to have an experience she loves to remember.
Creating a wedding day timeline is essential to a smooth wedding day. Knowing the order of events for the day ahead of time will allow you enjoy your day more and actually be present. But, even more than a clear order of events, creating a timeline allows you to consider how much time you will spend on each part of your day. Do you need to plan two hours for your hair? How long will it take to drive to the ceremony venue for you to arrive with time to spare? How much cushion time do you want in case something goes amiss? In this post, I am laying out my most helpful ideas and suggestions to consider when planning a wedding day that allows for an enjoyable, stress-free event filled with purpose and memories!
Weddings are not one size fits all. Every bride is different and has different dreams and priorities for the day. You do not have to do every single wedding activity that you’ve seen on the blogs and in the magazines. Instead, ask what is essential to you. What, at the end of the day, will have mattered most? Extra portraits at sunset you can hang in your living room? Or maybe getting a photo with your grandma and focusing on family time? Do you need extra opportunities for candids, or maybe those cute getting ready shots of all your bridesmaids in robes is your dream. Once you know what you really want out of your day, what is essential to you– you will find this process pretty easy!
Before you even write down a start time for getting ready, I encourage my brides to first consider how much time you need for each part of the day. How long will hair and makeup take? How much time do you want to spend on that daddy-daughter first look? How much time do you want for portraits? What is essential to you, and how much time do you need to enjoy it?
Below are the suggested approximate times that I give my brides for the best photo opportunities of the day. Note that I include cushion time in all of these parts of the day so that my girls can rest-assured that, yes, we will have plenty of time to make it all those beautiful photos happen!
DETAILS & PREP: 2 HOURS
FIRST LOOK & PORTRAITS: 30-45 MINS
BRIDAL PARTY: 30-45 MINS
FAMILY FORMALS: 20-30 MINS
EXTRA PORTRAIT TIME: AS MUCH TIME AS YOU CAN ALLOW
Back when I was making a timeline for my wedding, I had things planned down to the minute– everything from how long it would take me to get into the car, how long it would take me to drive to the venue, how long we’d have for group prayer, how long we’d have for cutting the cake, etc. In retrospect, I probably terrified my photographer when I sent her my itinerary for the day! It was incredibly detailed and really kind of unrealistic. I know now that I tried to pack way too much into my schedule for the day. My advice so this doesn’t happen to you? Be realistic. That receiving line is going to, honestly, take at least 20 minutes. Those extra family shots you want? You’ll need to add in some more time for that. You can try to squeeze things in minute by minute, but in the end, that’s just a timeline that looks organized but doesn’t feel good when it’s happening. Be realistic with the time you have!
I hope these tips have helped you know where to begin with your wedding day timeline! If you have questions, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy planning!
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We're Shelby & Jared, Springfield MO wedding photographers passionate about meaningful living. We document timeless moments for free-spirited, elegant couples across the Midwest and beyond. As fine art photographers, we strive to create work that will leave a legacy of love for years to come.
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