I hope you all had a merry Christmas and are gearing up for 2014! We had a great time with our family and ate lots of delicious food!
I was reflecting over the past almost 6 years that I’ve been in business and how when I got married (almost 8 years ago) we didn’t have things like Pinterest, Wedding Chicks, Style Me Pretty, etc to help us plan our wedding. On Christmas Eve, after Carly was put to bed, we sat outside at the lake star-gazing and were talking about some of the things we wish we had known when we got married. Our biggest obstacle? The timeline. I was a young bride who just wanted to be married to my best friend. It wasn’t about throwing a lavish wedding, it was about celebrating us becoming a family. I wish I had planned our timeline better so we could have had the pictures I really wish we would have taken the time to get. It most definitely didn’t help that the staff at the location where we got married and had our reception were pestering us to finish up because they wanted to start serving dinner. That was OUR day. NOT their day.
So, with all of that said, now that I work in the wedding industry, I can tell you from experience what works and things you should think about for your wedding day timeline. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment letting me know how you coordinated your timeline or what your biggest struggles with timelines are!
- First off, no matter how much or how detailed you are with planning, something will always go wrong, won’t go according to plan, etc. This is just the nature of things. There are things beyond your control that will happen on the day of your wedding, which leads me to my next tip.
- Second, hire a coordinator. Even if you don’t think you can afford a coordinator, most coordinators have a “day of” coordination package that are very affordable and will save you TONS of stress on your wedding day. When I got married, I didn’t have a coordinator. My cakes didn’t show up, things weren’t set up until last minute, I had to put the table decor on the tables, my husband had to set up the ceremony location, etc. I wish I could have just relaxed and enjoyed the day I’d been waiting for for 22 years. So, do yourself a favor. After you hire a venue and photographer, hire a coordinator, even if just for day of coordination! For help finding coordinators in your area that are reputable, visit WeddingWire.com.
- Third, talk to wedding professionals about timelines! Many professionals are willing to give you advice, even if you just visit their Facebook pages and leave a comment on their page.
From both a the perspective of having been a bride and being a professional photographer, this is what I think is the ideal timeline. There’s no right or wrong timeline, but there is a way to plan it to get the most from your day!
- 9:00am: Wake up refreshed and get a light breakfast to eat.
- 9am-11am: Do any morning preparations that make you happy! This could be reading your Bible, having coffee with your bridal party and or parents, going through pictures of you and your spouse-to-be, etc.
- 11:00am: Be sure your dress is being steamed so it has time to cool so wrinkles are less likely to return after steaming. During this time, usually the guys are getting showers, hanging out, drinking beer, maybe watching some sports, etc.
- 12:00pm-12:30pm: Lunch! I always recommend a sandwich tray!
- 12:30pm: Hair and makeup starts. Of course, this will depend on if you are getting them done professionally and if you have to go to a salon or if you’ve hired someone to come to you. If you have a large bridal party, you may wish to have your hair/makeup vendor arrive at 12:00pm.
- 1:00pm-2:30pm: Photographer arrives to take pictures of bride finishing getting ready. Photographer takes pictures of dress, bouquets (be sure they are delivered to you, not the ceremony location) shoes, jewelry, etc. Photographer will also do your bridal portraits and pictures with your bridesmaids during this time. *Note: Be sure to have the rings with you, including his wedding band, your wedding band, and your engagement ring. That way your photographer can take pictures of your rings.
- 2:45-3:15pm: Pictures with groom and groomsmen. Be sure any florals they should be wearing have been arrived and pinned to them so they’re ready for pictures!
- 3:30pm: Bride and bridesmaids arrive at ceremony location and are hidden away for the ceremony.
- 3:40pm: Groom and groomsmen arrive at ceremony location.
- 4pm: Ceremony
- 4:25-4:45pm: Family formals
- 4:45-5:40pm: Pictures with your bridal party and just the two of you.
- 5:40-6:00pm: Couple attends last 20 minutes of cocktail hour to mingle. During this time, your photographer is taking photographs of all of your reception details and setting up off camera lighting to be ready when the reception doors open at 6.
- 5:00-6:00pm: Cocktail hour for guests outside of reception area. That way your photographer has time to take pictures of all of your reception details that you took so long to plan before your guests enter the reception room.
- 6:00pm: Guests are asked to take their seats. *Note: If you want pictures of your place cards, be sure to put these at the entrance inside the reception room so your photographer can take pictures of them before guests have access to them.
- 6:10pm: DJ introduces bridal party and you!
- 6:15pm: Bride and Groom are announced and go straight into their first dance. *Note: For photography purposes, it’s best to have your bridal party go straight to their seats when introduced, instead of lining up on the dance floor for your first dance. That way, you don’t them in the background of all of your pictures and your dance is all about you!
- 6:20pm: Father/Daughter Dance
- 6:25pm: Mother/Son Dance
- 6:30pm: Blessing given and dinner is served. *Note: your photographer should be served dinner at the same time you both are served. This ensures the photographer is done and ready to be back to shooting when you have finished eating.
- 7:15pm: Toasts
- 7:20pm: Cake cutting
- 7:25pm: Open dance floor!
- 8:00pm: Bouquet toss
- 8:05pm: Garter toss
- 8:10-10pm: Dance the night away!
- 10pm: Reception exit!
Here are some additional tips for your wedding day that I wish I had planned for. So much goes into your wedding and unless you work in the industry, you’re likely not familiar with every turning wheel that works to bring your wedding together seamlessly. They’re maybe little things that you may not think of or overlook. These tips will help!
- If you’re having your nails done, be sure they’re done the day before your wedding day, so that there is one less thing to plan for during your wedding day.
- Plan to have breakfast! It’s going to be a long time before you have dinner. If you’re not a breakfast eater, then have a sandwich tray catered for you and your bridesmaids/groomsmen for lunch. I promise it’ll be well worth it. You need to eat, especially to be less stressed during the day!
- If guys are wearing pocket squares, make sure they’ve learned how to fold their pocket squares before the wedding day.
- If you are exchanging gifts with your spouse-to-be, make sure they are wrapped a day ahead of time and that you’ve given them to someone in each other’s bridal party to give to your spouse-to-be on your wedding day.
- Have a backup plan for if it rains! We had a hurricane come through two days before our wedding. Luckily, we had beautiful weather the day of our wedding because of it, but goodness, it happens.
- Lastly, relax and enjoy the day. If you’ve hired a coordinator, then whatever problems that arise will not be yours to stress about. You’ll likely have no idea that anything is even going wrong!