One of the questions I get asked from almost every bride is “How do I plan my wedding day timeline?” A wedding day timeline is not only the best way to lower your stress level, but it’s also the best way to ensure that you get what you want out of your day.
Most brides tell me that they want their day to be:
* Relaxed, Loving, & Fun
* Focused on their friends and family
* A genuine reflection of their relationship
The question is, how do you get that?
As contrary as it may sound, the best way to have a fun and relaxed wedding is to PLAN for that to happen. That’s right. If you plan your wedding day timeline in advance, you’ll have a calm, relaxed, and loving day.
I always recommend that you plan your wedding day timeline as soon as you book your photographer. Of course, there might be some tweaks you make as the wedding day approaches. But it’s better to make tweaks than to draft the timeline days before you get married. That’s the time to start relaxing and see that the details are already in place.
Let me walk you through a sample wedding day timeline:
* 4 HOURS BEFORE THE CEREMONY: We arrive to document the Bride getting ready with her bridesmaids and her mother, sister (it’s best for the photographer to arrive about 30 minutes before the bride’s hair and makeup will be finished). This is a great opportunity to catch all the excitement and raw emotions BEFORE the wedding: your mother seeing you for the first time in your dress. Your best friends toasting a glass of champagne in your honor. And all the excitement you have for seeing your groom in just a few hours.
* 3.5 HOURS BEFORE THE CEREMONY: This is the best time for bridesmaids photos and a few portraits of just the bride. You’ll want to remember the details of your dress and how you feel in your gown. It’ll be the only time in your whole life that you’ll wear it. So it’s worth planning a few extra minutes to capture a few photos of just you in your gown.
* 3 HOURS BEFORE THE CEREMONY: We document the groom getting ready and hanging out with his groomsmen. This is also an amazing time for photographs. The emotions of anticipation and joy fill the room as the groom and groomsmen help tie ties, smooth jackets, and make toasts to one another.
* 2.5 HOURS BEFORE THE CEREMONY: This is the best time to take a few portraits of the groom. And we’ll also capture a group photo of the groom with all his best friends: the best man and his groomsmen.
* 2 HOURS BEFORE THE CEREMONY: First Look! This is the best time to do a first look. If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s a time we set aside for you and your groom to see each other for the first time. It’s private, and we stand back and document the moment when you both see each other for the first time before the ceremony. In our experience, this is an incredibly special time for the couple. It brings a moment of calm into the day and it’s a special moment that’s planned just for the two of you. (Justin and I did this for our wedding, and we really loved it — however, some people want to wait until the ceremony for their first look. That’s great! About 30% of our clients opt for the ceremony to be the first time to see each other. If that’s what you want, then just shift the timeline to account for all the family photos for AFTER the ceremony.)
* 1.75 HOURS BEFORE CEREMONY: We’ll transition straight from documenting your First Look into portraits of just the two of you. This captures ALL the excitement and anticipation you’ve been feeling. The emotions are running high; and we get some of the BEST moments between the two of you. You’ll love these photos. 🙂
* 1. 25 HOURS BEFORE THE CEREMONY: Let’s face it — you most likely want to get to your party as soon as possible after the ceremony! So let’s spend 30 minutes capturing your family portraits before the ceremony begins. We’ll ask for a list of photos you’ll want and we’ll make this quick and painless. Then, you two get to take a 15-minute break before the ceremony!
* 15 MINUTES BEFORE THE CEREMONY: You two take a break, get some water, and connect with each other before the ceremony begins. We (the photographers) will go to the ceremony site and document your friends and family arriving.
* 1 HOUR AFTER RECEPTION BEGINS: This is the best time to schedule your toasts, your cake cutting, and your first dances. You’ll want to plan these events about 30 minutes after dinner has been served. In total, all these usually take about 30 minutes. (It can be longer if toasts are long.) Then . . . the dance party begins! And it’s all fun from there on out.
* 15 MINUTES BEFORE YOUR RECEPTION ENDS: If you’re planning a special exit, you’ll want to gather your guests about 15 minutes before the end of the night. Alternatively, some people plan a beautiful ‘exit’ at the end of their ceremony. If you want a bubble ‘exit,’ this is a great option. It ensures that you’ll have a lot of people lined up (sometimes guests leave early if your reception runs late).
I know this sample wedding day timeline will make your planning easy!
I hope you have a wonderful time planning your day so that it’s filled with the people you love, the events you value, and all the support you deserve.
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How To Make A Wedding Day Timeline | Seattle Wedding Photographers