5 Tips to Making a Stress-Free Wedding Day Timeline

1. Sunset Time

Look it up BEFORE you start planning. Know when the sun is going to set on your wedding day and see if you can plan around it. The best lighting for photos is during the two hours before the sun sets. So if you're having an outdoor ceremony, having the ceremony start at the beginning of those two hours is a great way to ensure your portraits have great lighting.

Knowing the sunset time early on can also help prevent problems that come with the sun setting early in the wintertime. If the sun sets at 5:30 pm and your ceremony starts at 5:00 pm. It's going to be dark by the time your ceremony is over. So you may want to plan to have photos done beforehand or rethink what time your ceremony is going to be.

These reasons are why I stress the importance of looking up the sunset time before you even start planning. And why I talk about the sunset time in our initial conversation, it's so important to create a timeline that allows for good light for photos.

2. First Look vs Aisle Look

This decision can be a tough one or one that you don't agree on with you fiancé but it is an important thing to consider. The tradition and emotional build of an aisle look are so special. The stress relief and emotion of a first look are also so special. There is no right or wrong decision. But the decision to do an aisle look or a first look can have a significant influence on the timeline.

Like I said before if the sun sets early in the evening, a first look allows for your photos to be done before the ceremony. It allows for photos to be taken in natural light, without having to put the ceremony early in the afternoon and making the reception awkwardly long or end early in the evening.

An Aisle look has the tradition and that special moment. For some people, that's a moment they don't want to give up, which I think is beautiful. But that means couples will most likely miss cocktail hour because of the time it takes for all of the portraits between the ceremony and reception. Missing cocktail hour is okay to some couples but not to others, so consider if it's important to you.

Do what your heart desires on this one. There are ways to make both options work no matter what time of day your ceremony is. The first look allows for photos to be done ahead of time and for more time to be spent mingling with guests at cocktail hour. An Aisle look sticks to the wedding tradition and allows for all posed photos to be done at once. Both play a significant role in how your timeline is laid out. With a first-look, more time needs to be allotted for photos before the ceremony and for an aisle look more time needs to be allotted after the ceremony. Either way, a lot of planning and consideration need to go into where your photo coverage is more concentrated, before or after the ceremony.

3. Travel Time

This seems to be something people forget about. Teleportation doesn't exist, well yet anyway, and you can't get from the Airbnb 20 minutes way in the 5 minutes you allotted on the timeline. If you are getting ready in a different location or having a ceremony in a different location from your reception. Consider how long it takes to get there. If it's 15 minutes away, allot 20 or 25 minutes. This allows time for people to realistically get into cars, get their maps pulled up, hit that extra stoplight, and still get to the next location on time. Moving people around takes more time than people give it credit. So if you have a lot of moving parts or locations involved that may even mean adding an extra hour of photography coverage to compensate.

I had a wedding that we initially booked 8 hours, but after finalizing all the timeline and travel details ended up adding 4 extra hours. Yes 4. There were so many moving pieces, photo locations, a ceremony site 30 minutes away from the reception site, a getting ready space 15 minutes away from the photo location and 20 minutes away from the ceremony site. With that, we wanted to be realistic and still be able to capture the full wedding day.

Overlooking travel time can cause for a very unorganized timeline. It's totally okay to get ready in different places and travel on your wedding day, it's so much fun, but be honest with yourself about how far away places are. And be honest about how quickly your family and friends move. If you're working with my friends, they'll be cleaning up or still getting ready during the time we're supposed to be driving.  

4. Efficient Family Photos

A timeline killer is family photo time. Not knowing who you want in what photos or how to navigate different family dynamics can quickly turn into an hour-long ordeal. It doesn't have to and shouldn't take nearly that long. I make every bride and groom write out a family photo list. A list of what groupings of family photos they want, this includes photos taken throughout the entire day. Before and after the ceremony. Usually, with the extended family photos being taken after the ceremony. Regardless the list makes sure I forget anyone and helps the couple evaluate who they want photos with on their wedding day. I always ask that my couples consult their parents when it comes to creating their lists because sometimes they have different ideas on which groups they want photos with. If you can have an all inclusive list and relay to these people that they are in the photos, this process takes 20-30 minutes max. Don't let your whole timeline suffer because you didn't sit down for 15 minutes and make a list. Your photographer will love you and so will your family members wanting to get to cocktail hour ASAP.

5. Take A Deep Breath

Wedding day timelines are a lifesaver. They are even sometimes planned out to 5 minute increments. But they aren't set in stone and they aren't going to go perfectly. That's okay.

The reason you consider some big factors ahead of time, like the sunset and travel time, is to avoid huge hiccups in the day. But you can't predict the storm that's going to roll in and out right before the ceremony, setting you back 20 minutes or you can't predict that someone lost their tie and needs to run to the store. It happens. The timeline is a guide. It can be a great guide or a very loose guide that isn't much help. You want that great guide that can accommodate for those timeline shifters or delays.

But no matter what you're getting married. Don't lose sight of that throughout the chaos of the day.

Wanna learn more tips and tricks?

If you're looking for more tips and tricks to creating the best wedding day timeline or need more help in the process, that's what I'm here for!

All of my clients receive my wedding guide! 40 pages full of information on the timeline, planning, lighting, and everything in between. It's a guide book to help make their wedding day as stress-free as possible by planning for the avoidable hiccups. I help most all of my clients map out their timeline, even if they have a wedding planner. Wedding planners are incredible, I admire their work so much and couldn't do my job without them. They aren't necessary for a wedding, but boy do they make a world of difference in executing a timeline successfully!

Sorry, not actually any more timeline tips until you book your wedding day with me! I am here for my couples to help them in the planning process, just showing up to shoot isn't how I roll.

Hope these tips help make your wedding day timeline a little more stress-free and a lot more organized!