Two Months Before the Wedding: Get your timeline together.
Start your timeline. Every vendor is going to need to know your timeline! I’m a photographer, so this is from my perspective. (However, I am working on a master day-of-schedule! <3) This advice is for brides and photographers alike. Understand that your timeline will go through changes as you get closer to your day. Here are a few tips to help make the process smoother.
- Work from the ceremony start time backward. The schedule will depend on many factors. One of those factors is how many hours of coverage you have from your photographer. It is HIGHLY important to discuss the timeline with your photographer to get their insight. I only provide full day coverage, which averages between 9-11 hours on a wedding day. So the following tips are from my perspective.
- Allow about an hour before the ceremony for buffer time. Trust me. Weddings tend to run late. It’s better to have an hour buffer that to be an hour late to the ceremony. If your ceremony begins at 3:00 pm, be at the ceremony venue, at 2:00 ready to go. If you plan this, you will have time to relax, fix up your hair and makeup, and delegate any last minute tasks that needs to be done.
- Photograph as many formals as possible before the ceremony. Allot about an hour for family portraits prior to the ceremony. Schedule an hour for bridal party photos. This will include bridal portraits, groom portraits, the first look (if having one), bride & groom portraits, and the full bridal party. The actual time will depend if you have to go off site, if you have a second photographer, and how many people you have in your bridal party. Discuss this with your photographer! So, working backwards, that would begin formals portraits at 12:00 noon.
- The bride should have her hair and makeup done last. Plan about 45 minutes to an hour for each person who needs their hair and makeup done. If you need to start photos at 12:00, you need to be getting into your dress at 11:30. If you schedule an hour for hair & makeup, you’ll begin at 10:30 if your stylist is on site. Add time for travel if you have to be off sight at a salon.
- Have all your details close together for the photographer! Invitations, jewelry, your rings, veil, dress, shoes, handkerchief, bouquet, etc. Delegate someone to show the photographer where these details are so he or she can get started as soon as they arrive. I usually plan an hour for details, which will run over into the bride’s hair and makeup time. I do this because nobody likes pictures of themselves with only half of their makeup applied, and half of their done. I only start taking hair and makeup photos when they are close to being finished. So for a ceremony beginning at 3:00, I would typically arrive at 10:00. Woooo!!! We just made the pre-ceremony timeline!
- Save extended family photos for after the ceremony. Instead of telling 30 people outside your immediate family to be there an hour prior, just have larger family formals afterwards. Everyone is already there. Also, be sure to communicate to everyone in the formals that they need to stay at the ceremony site for photos. PLEASE do this! I once had a mother leave for the reception. She was offsite for about 40 minutes. This communication is the responsibility of the couple. (Hmm. I may create a printable to give to my couples to make the process easier! Taking note of that idea!) The average ceremony is 30 minutes. Add another 30 for extended family formals, then that puts us at 4:00 to begin bride and groom portraits.
- Plan for at least 40 minutes of bride & groom portraits. Especially if you didn’t have a first look. If sunset is a long time off, I may split the time in half. Then during the reception, sneak the bride and groom away around sunset. Since our hypothetical wedding is early, this is what I’ll do. We’ll finish the first set of bride & groom portraits at 4:20, and I would sneak the bride and groom off for about 20 minutes during sunset at the reception.
- The reception! I highly recommend being introduced, then going straight into dinner. You’ve had a long day of prepping. You need to eat! After you eat, go ahead and do all of your reception traditions back to back. Special dances, toasts, cake, bouquet & garter toss, etc. Why do everything back to back? If you space everything out, you’ll be constantly pulled every direction during your reception. Go ahead and do the traditions, then spend the rest of the evening visiting your guests and dancing the night away! If you want to space everything out, that’s perfectly fine, too. Just be sure to discuss the reception timeline with your MC & photographer.
Two Weeks Before the Wedding: Review Your Timeline With Your Photographer
Since your timeline will change in the two months leading up to your wedding, you really want to lock it in place about two weeks out. This gives your bridal party, family, vendors, and yourself some peace of mind once it’s set.
Note: Weddings have a lot of moving parts. On the day of some things will run late, while others run early. (This is why buffer time is important!) On your day, just concentrate on living in the moment, marrying the love of your life, and celebrating with friends and family. On the wedding day, the timeline is for your family and vendors to keep. We will get you where you need to be, and keep you updated with as little stress as possible. <3
I hope this has been helpful to you! This is a typical timeline for me and my business. Every wedding is different, and every photographer has a slightly different approach to the day. The most important thing is to be in constant contact with you photographer about the wedding day and get their input. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below with any questions!
P.S.- Here is a free timeline printable!!! It’s very versatile, and I hope it helps!