Wedding-day Success Starts With a Strong Timeline.
When you're planning a wedding, you'll likely encounter lots of opinions with regards to scheduling your wedding day in order to allow proper timing for wedding-day traditions and the related photography. If you're like most brides, you've never been married before, so knowing how much time to spend on each segment of the day is something you feel you're guessing at, at best.
In order to help you make planning a little easier, I've compiled this guide so that you can know just how much time to allocate for each big event, and how to plan ahead for things you may not even know will happen. The wedding-day festivities of your dreams can all be easily accommodated, but it is imperative that you plan for each of them appropriately.
Tip #1: Begin with the end in mind.
Chances are, your wedding venue has a hard end time. Sometimes this is called "strike". It's a hard stop. Time for all of your guests to be out of the venue, you to be headed to your honeymoon suite, and the venue employees and your planner to begin tear down. If this is in fact when everyone has to be off the premises, your departure time should be roughly half an hour prior to this time. This gives guests and attendants time to gather their belongings and yours, and leave for the night without incurring possible additional charges from your venue.
Tip #2: Be realistic about the amount of time people can dance and mingle...and drink.
The best receptions don't have more than 3 hours of open dancing. More than that and you tend to end up with very few people left on the dance floor at the end of the night. This might not seem like a big deal, but if you're having a sendoff of some sort, you're going to need people to, well, send you off. So 3 hours (not including dinner) is just short enough for your grandparents, and just long enough for your best pals. It's the perfect balance.
Tip #3: Make sure to give enough time for dinner, based on your number of guests and type of service.
This is sometimes when a wedding timeline can fall apart. If you're having 100+ guests, and providing a plated dinner, it's important to give enough time for service AND dinner. Work closely with your caterer or catering captain and heed their suggestions. 1 full hour is standard for dinner service and consumption, but sometimes whether because of the number of guests being served, or the type of food you're serving, (sometimes both) more time is recommended.
Tip #4: Your Cocktail Hour
This is the time when formal portraits will occur. This time between the end of ceremony and dinner is the cornerstone of the entire wedding-day timeline, and requires the most planning and attention to detail from a photography perspective. This is when your formal family portraits, bridal party portraits, and portraits of the two of you will take place. Here are some things to consider:
- You will be asked for a list of people to include in family portraits. Select these people carefully. A good rule of thumb is to exclude people whom you wouldn't hang a photo of in your home.
- Communicate the details of the family formals to those concerned and involved.
- Assign a point person to ensure that everyone from both sides of the family is assembled and ready at the designated time and place.
- Instruct your bridal party to stay put during family formals. If they think they're dismissed, they may be difficult to locate once they're needed.
Tip #5: Wedding Day Travel
If your wedding day festivities are happening in separate locations (for example, a wedding ceremony in one place and a wedding reception in another, or leaving your wedding site for portraits), it's important to take these points into consideration when planning your wedding day timeline:
- Add in at least 15-20 additional minutes for travel from one location to the next. This allows for random traffic, wrong turns, or needed stops along the way.
- Allow at least 5 minutes for people to get into and out of vehicles
- Ensure all drivers have proper directions to each location
Tip #6: Preparation Tips
When we arrive at any wedding, we begin our coverage with details. Popular wedding-day details to be photographed vary from wedding to wedding, but some popular items include: wedding bands, wedding garter, bridal bouquets and boutonnières, wedding invitations and other paper details, grooms details to include items carried and worn, brides details to include items carried and worn, and clothing garments. Once details have been photographed, your photo team will get on with photographing the moments of the day. From a timeline perspective, the easiest thing to do is to make sure all these items are in one place. Here are some other things to consider in order to make sure your wedding preparations go smoothly, and according to plan:
- Plan for 30 minutes of additional time in case of people running late, hair and make-up struggles, forgotten items, etc.
Tip #7: Communicate
Communicating all aspects of the timeline to all vendors involved will make sure that things go off just as planned. Your wedding day vendors will work as a team so to that the wedding of your dreams will be well underway!