April 3, 2017
The wedding day timeline is so important for so many reasons. First, it enables all of your hired wedding professionals to be on the same page with one another. Second, it gives your bridal party and family a solid overview of the day. Venues, wedding photographers, videographers, hair, makeup, florists, and planners can all have a very different idea of what an ideal wedding day timeline should look like. I am writing this from a photographer’s perspective. However, remember that everyone you hire has a unique opinion, and they are all equally important. Make sure everyone is on the same page once the final timeline is made.
As a photographer, there is nothing worse than thinking you have a certain amount of time for photos and then an officiant or maitre d’ comes up and tells you they need the bride, groom + bridal party for a “quick rehearsal (they are rarely quick). When it comes to wedding photography, every minute counts, and five minutes can be the difference between having good photographs vs. amazing wedding photographs. Make sure that you let your photo + video team know prior to the wedding if you will be doing a day of rehearsal so they can adjust their wedding timelines accordingly.
If you are not using the same team for both photography and video, make sure that both of the schedules line up. At Off BEET, we typically recommend about 2 hours of portrait time and make our schedules based on that timeline. If the videographer needs a block of time outside of that where they will be separately working with you, we need to add additional time.
For example, I once had a couple who did not want to do a first look and were very concerned that they would not have enough time to capture their desired wedding photos. I knew prior to the event that they had hired a videographer so I asked if he would be requiring any additional time with them. The couple told me no, and he would just cover whatever I was photographing. We created a solid wedding day timeline, and I assured them we would have enough time.
When it came time to photograph them post-ceremony on the wedding day, I was thrown a major curve ball. The videographer was not working alongside me. In fact, he kept walking into my shots and saying we needed to do things again his way. All in all, he took 1/2 hour out of our scheduled photography session. I was not able to achieve everything they hoped for.
Had I known prior to the wedding day that the videographer needed 1/2 hour of time, we would have modified our schedule. In conclusion, make sure everyone is on the same page.
Our rule of thumb on a wedding day is to double the amount of time that Google Maps estimates it should take to get from point A to point B, then put it on the wedding day timeline. This allows more than enough time for possible traffic. While we always hope for the best, we want to plan for the worst. Traffic will cause you to loose valuable time if you do not plan for it.
Wedding day hair and makeup being on time is the key to sticking to the wedding day schedule. If hair and makeup runs late, it creates a domino effect.
Imagine your wedding photographer wants you dressed at 2pm. You tell your hair and makeup team to be finished at 1:45pm. That leaves 15 minutes of buffer time. An experienced team will be able to accurately estimate what time you will need to start and how many people they will bring to achieve this.
A huge red flag is if there will only be one artist for a large group. Check out what Tara from Hot Mess has to say about hair and makeup timing on Hooked Weddings.
I find this to be my number one challenge on a wedding day. Family photos include many people. Organizing a large group is extremely difficult in a short amount of time.
Our number one tip is to tell the family before the wedding exactly where they need to be and when. We suggest sending out an email, a text, or calling them. Make sure this happens before the big day.
If you feel too busy with planning, ask a bridal party member or a parent to take over this task. Family photos run a lot smoother if everyone is present at the same time. Furthermore, they take less time this way.
Picture this: You told your photographer that the ceremony is at 5:30pm, and he or she planned on taking pictures until 5pm. However, your invitation said your ceremony started at 5pm. It’s now 4:30pm, and guests are starting to arrive. You really do not want everyone to see you in your wedding dress before you walk down the aisle, so you abruptly stop photos to hide. You have just lost a valuable 1/2 hour of time. This is why you should make sure both times are noted on your final wedding day timeline.
Perhaps one of the worst mistakes on a wedding day is not ensuring that the locations you want to use will be available.
Because many parks and popular wedding photography locations require permits, it is essential to find out beforehand. If your preferred photography location does require a permit, make sure you discuss this with your wedding professionals.
Do not assume that your entire venue is available for wedding day pictures. Certain rooms or areas being unavailable can throw off the wedding day timeline. Because some venues hold more than one event at a time, it is important to know ahead of time what locations you can and can not use.
For example, you do not want to plan family photos on the lobby staircase at 2pm only to find out that you can not be in the lobby until 3pm. This can be a real monkey wrench.
Our advice is to find out before hand so you can create an accurate wedding day timeline.
Depending on the size of your bridal party and the amount of travel needed on your wedding day, you may need to hire a limo, trolley, or bus. If not everyone will fit into the transportation in one trip, we strongly urge you to hire two. We realize this can be pricey, but it could save your wedding day timeline and give you piece of mind.
If you are traveling far and hire the transportation to loop (drop off the boys, then come back for the girls), this can cause major timing issues. We have seen them hit traffic, and this can add majorly delays to the wedding day. This almost always results in less time for wedding pictures.
When I got married, I planned on having a 20 minute ceremony. My husband surprised me with an entire musical performance during the ceremony. This resulted in our ceremony being about 45 minutes long. Because I am lighting obsessed, we planned on taking a majority of our wedding photos post ceremony near sunset. Because the ceremony was 25 minutes longer than expected, we lost that in photography time. Fortunately, we did get amazing photos, but we did have to sacrifice some of the locations we hoped for.
Our suggestion is to have a realistic conversation with your fiancé and your officiant to set a realistic timeline for the wedding ceremony. Don’t just assume it will be a certain amount of time.
A wedding day is busy to say the least. The wedding day is not just about making your family happy or saying hello to every guest. It’s not just about making a movie or creating amazing photos (although we want to create epic photos).
The wedding day is about you as a couple. It’s all about your love.
Between all of the moving parts and must-have events on your wedding day, make sure to take some private time between the two of you. The day is a once in a lifetime, and I promise you don’t want to miss that precious time.
Make sure to pad in 10 or 15 minutes somewhere during the day where it is only the two of you. Just make sure it is on the schedule so there are no surprises to your wedding vendors.
Off BEET Productions is a boutique wedding event group located in the NJ/NY area and serving destination weddings worldwide. We specialize in natural, candid lifestyle photography; fun and playful music videos; unique wedding DJ entertainment; and a stylish, open air photo booth.
Also check out our latest project – Hooked Weddings – for entertaining, innovative snack-sized wedding tips.