If it’s close to your big day, there’s probably a lot going on!!! Finally everything is falling into place and you’re finalizing all of the little details.
Now it’s time to make it really real by making the timeline!!!
Your planner or coordinator will help you with this, and your photographer will to. Its important to involve all of these people. Your DJ or entertainment will also likely want to be involved in this process, so make sure that everyone is on the same page before you put your final stamp of approval on it.
When it comes to timelines, it’s really important to PRIORITIZE and treat it as the most important part of your day –– other than marrying the love of your life!
When you’re getting ready to make your timeline, I would write down a few things that are definitely important to you. This can be making sure that you have plenty of time for toasts at the reception, your newly wed portraits, getting photos with all of your guests, having a special dance with your grandpa, being able to actually attend your own cocktail hour…whatever is important to you!
This is completely up to you to decide, and the timeline can be worked around it. The only thing that can’t be worked around is wanting to do it ALL. It is important that you decide what’s the MOST important, so if you need to make some compromises you’re still getting the thing that will make you the most happy.
As a general rule, the way the wedding day will flow is starting with getting ready (imagine that!) and details. When your photographer says they want to start with details, this includes your dress, shoes, viel, rings, invitations, and all of the smaller pieces of the day that may get lost in the shuffle.
This usually happens while you’re getting ready so there’s plenty of time to grab a few shots once you’re *mostly* ready and the classic fun pic with your bridesmaids before you get dressed.
It’s important that you schedule enough time to be fully ready once the details are done because it can throw off the morning if everyone is behind. The bigger your bridal party, the longer it takes everyone to move and be ready so my motto is basically just ALWAYS be early or add more time than you think you need!
The biggest thing to keep in mind with this part of the day is making sure that your family is also ready when they need to be! I love when your mom or any special ladies in your life get to help you into your dress, but they can’t do that if their hair and makeup aren’t done!
When it comes to the daddy daughter first look, which is one of my favorite traditions, your dad will also need to be dressed and ready! I like to leave plenty of time for moments like these so you have the opportunity to soak it all in without having to rush to the next thing. In order to make this happen though everyone will need to respect the timeline and stay as close to it as possible!!
After your dad gets to take all of your gorgeousness in, we will take the traditional photos with your family and then with the bridesmaids, then some bridal portraits (which are super important if you didn’t have a separate bridal session). All of this takes around an hour and a half, from you getting into your dress to all of the photos we’ll want of just the bride!
Next we’ll move onto the guys, who will basically go through the same process! A few detail photos, some getting ready shots, and then a few of the groom by himself. Then we’ll add in his family and of course all of the groomsmen. This usually takes a little less time than the girls as you can imagine! You should plan on this being about 45-50 minutes (if everyone is on time!).
Now the biggest change to the timeline is having a first look…
I won’t spend too much time on this because I could talk all day about how much I love first looks and it mainly has to do with the timeline! If you do opt for a first look, we will start a little earlier in the day with the girls and will schedule a private moment with just you and your groom.
Just like with your daddy daughter first look, this would have plenty of time around it so you aren’t feeling rushed. We’ll do some portraits (which is awesome because you basically get TWO portrait sessions which means DOUBLE the photos!!) and then photograph the entire bridal party.
This means with a first look that you have ALL of the photos done except for family photos before the ceremony even happens!!
For my brides that prioritize being at their cocktail hour, sometimes we’re even able to do family photos before the ceremony too which means all there is to do after the ceremony is a few bride and groom portraits and a lot of partying!!
Either way, we will want to make sure that you are tucked away with plenty of time for our early birds to arrive to the wedding and not see you. We also need time to photograph all of the details of your finished spaces before guests arrive!
The ceremony will happen and then we will move into family photos (if we weren’t able to do them before the ceremony). It’s important to understand your priorities when it comes to this time because while ideally it will only last 15 minutes or so, it has the potential to get really out of hand! I recommend around 10 family groupings to keep it manageable, though if you want more, we’ll just have to take that time from another area of the day.
After family formal photos, we’ll photograph the bridal party, which usually only takes about 15 minutes (if everyone cooperates!), and then on to the most important photos of the day…newly-wed photos!!!
Everyone has their own opinions, but I personally feel like these are the MOST important photos of the entire day. These will be the ones that you print and hang in your house and will want to show your children one day.
Because of that, it’s important to prioritize this time and know that even if you’re a little tired after the ceremony and family photos (especially if you didn’t do a first look) that we still take the time we need for these!!
Lastly is the reception, which has a lot of flexibility but needs thought about how you want your party to flow.
For example, usually doing the cake cutting and toasts during dinner allow guests to eat your dessert before heading to the dance floor and gives them something to do while they’re listening to your friend’s sweet words.
You’ll want to make time for your special dances, and more importantly if there is anything specific you wanted to add to a traditional reception timeline. If someone is planning on surprising you with something, make sure they know to let your coordinator, photographer, and DJ know so they can plan accordingly!
When it comes to the reception and party time, I really leave it in the DJ and coordinators hands because they are the experts at making the party fun and memorable so I would definitely listen to their suggestions!
Just keep in mind that someone will need to let your photographer and videographer team know a few minutes before something happens so they’re ready!
I know this is a lot to think about when it comes to building your timeline but that’s also why you’ve hired the best people who will do this all for you!!!
For my couples, I send out a questionnaire a few weeks before the wedding to get all of the information from them and then I build out a draft timeline based on their priorities.
We review that together on a call, go through all of the details, and then have nothing to worry about on the day of –– other than making sure everyone follows it!!