One of the most important things you can do to have your wedding day run smoothly is to have a solid Wedding Day Timeline. (The others are hiring an amazing wedding planner and photographer!) I am not talking about your photography timeline here, I am talking about the entire day. From the moment you wake up to the end of the reception.
Adding Buffer Time
If you read nothing else in this post, read this. Things will take longer than your expect on your wedding day. And something is bound to ‘go wrong’ at some point. But, if you add in 10 minutes here and there of buffer time in your wedding day timeline, it will be no big deal if a zipper pops on a bridesmaids dress. And if everything does run right on schedule, then you will have some extra time to relax and enjoy the day!
Include Time to Eat
You may not want to eat very much on your wedding day, and that is totally fine. But, you need to eat something! If you don’t, you may not eat until dinner at 7 or 8 that night. Depending on the time of your wedding, lunch will probably fall right before or in the middle of getting ready. If that is the case, I suggest having something brought in for your to eat in-between hair and make-up.
Estimate Travel Time
If you are traveling by car any point in the day, be sure to google the drive time! With google you can now estimate travel time for a specific date and time. It gives you an average range, and I suggest using the longest time to plan your day. There is also a very cool app called Waze. You can schedule a drive ahead of time (or link with your calendar) and it will give you a notification when you need to leave based on current traffic conditions. And, if there is an accident on your way, it will re-route your drive!
Getting Ready Timeline
Make sure you talk to your hair and makeup artist to get an accurate idea of how long it will take to have your hair and makeup done. I suggest having your makeup finished before your getting ready photos start. This way, you don’t have half a face of makeup on in your photos. Your photographer can still capture the ‘touch ups’ or ‘final touches’ of your makeup and hair being done!
If your bridal party and mother’s are also getting their hair and makeup done, make sure to add in a little extra buffer time. Even if your hair/makeup artist is on point, someone is bound to have to take a call in the middle of getting ready or be out on a coffee run when it is their turn to start!
Photography Wedding Day Timeline
Be sure to ask your photographer for their ideal wedding day timeline. Each photographer has their own style, and as such, their own ideal timeline. You want to make sure to give them enough time to capture your wedding day. As with anything else, add in small buffer pockets of 5 – 10 minutes if they have not done so already!
(If you would like to see my ideal timeline, check out my post: Sample Photography Timeline With First Look)
First Look (Seeing Each Other Before The Ceremony)
If you have a first look or not will make a huge impact on your wedding day timeline. A first look will affect your ceremony time as well as when you need to start getting ready. With no first look, your ceremony will be earlier in the day so you have enough light for photos after the ceremony. If you are doing a first look, you will need to be getting ready about 4 hours before the ceremony vs 3.
(See my post: First Looks: What Are They and Why They Are Awesome to see more information on the benefits and considerations of a First Look.)
Your DJ/MC will help you plan the timeline of your reception. Confirm with your photographer how long they will be at the reception. Depending on your collection, they may only be there for a few hours after dinner. Make sure to plan all the fun activities you want photos of before they leave! Also, consider adding in some time to socialize with guests. This can be attending cocktail hour, going to each table at dinner, or a dollar dance!
Time to Yourselves
Another thing you may not think to schedule into your wedding day timeline is some time for the two of you. You may think you spend a lot of time with your new husband/wife on your wedding day. But the truth is, you spend a surprisingly small amount of time together until after the reception! You can use your first look as an opportunity to spend some quality time together. Or, you can plan 5 minutes to run off together after the ceremony. (Let your photographer follow you. You own’t regret it!) You can even plan a few minutes to sneak off during the reception. Just make sure your DJ and photographer know!
Season of the Year Considerations
The season will also play a pretty big role in your timeline. If you are getting married in a warmer month in Arizona (read: May – September), you will want to account for the heat. You may consider a sunset ceremony or brunch, so the weather is a bit cooler. You will also want to add in extra time to run under the a/c during your outdoor portraits. During the winter months (November – Mid February), the sunset is rather early. So, your wedding day and ceremony will need to be earlier in the day as well.
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