Aaah the wedding day timeline. Something that needs to be so perfectly crafted yet flow and adapt to any portion of the day that might run behind or have a hiccup *knock on wood.* This is by far the part of the wedding planning process that I get asked most about, so I figured I would give you guys the entire rundown on tips to making your day as perfect as it deserves to be!
Do you want lots of time to get ready with your girls and take the morning slow? Do the guys want to hit a round of golf? Do you want a thirty minute breather in between the ceremony and reception for some alone time with your new spouse? Do you want to chill on the party bus with your wedding party and drive around the city for an hour, photo-free? Make sure you communicate these wants to your planner and your photographer so the timeline can accommodate!
This is the first step! Once you have both times nailed down, you can start working backwards from the ceremony time and plan time for a first look, photos, and hair and makeup! It works the same way with the reception, but you work forward! Plan on 45min-1 hour for everyone to eat, and then you can stagger the reception events for after eating. Consult your DJ on how they advise to run things to make the party run smoothly and still be entertaining!
If you think that getting dressed will only take 10 minutes, up it to 30. Transportation to the venue only takes 15 min? Up it to 20-25 minutes. Padding time allows for bathroom breaks, last minute hair fixes, digging around in bags for the crotchet hook for your dress, and hitting all the red lights! Add on an extra hour to hair and makeup. Why? Because of a bridesmaid is late or this portion of the day runs wonky, your whole day can get derailed! And wouldn’t you rather be sitting around sipping champagne, ahead of schedule, rather than rushing around to throw on your dress and head to portraits?
Most photographers base their packages off of hours, so consult them on how long they typically like to have for wedding party, couple, and family portraits. Usually I prefer to arrive about an hour before the couple gets dressed and I like to capture at least 45-60 minutes of dancing photos. Wedding party & family portraits take about 30min each, and I like to split up about 45min of time for couple portraits – 30min during the bulk portrait portion of the day and another 15 min during sunset or nighttime to get some more romantic shots. Every photographer is different, some need less time and some need way more.
It helps if you start your timeline early on in the process and add in detail and adjust as the months go on, rather than frantically reworking your whole day a month before because a vendor needs more time. You can discuss this “sample” timeline when booking vendors like the florist and photographer so you can determine drop off and arrival times.
Good luck! And if you’re an ILC couple, reach out and we can start crafting your perfect timeline ASAP. Already have a timeline checked off your list? Check out my other resources below!
Midwest based wedding photographers servicing Chicago, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and beyond.