5 Essential Wedding Day Timeline Tips

wedding tips from ct nyc nj wedding photographer

Your wedding is a week away and you’re on the phone with your photographer:

“Hey I am so excited to shoot your wedding next Saturday!”

“Ahh I know! It has been a long and hard road but we can finally see the finish line!”

“ I know, so let’s talk about your timeline.”

“Okay great, Ill start getting ready at 12, so you should get there around 12:30. Then I get married at 5 and the reception ends at 10:30.”

“Okay….When would you like your family formals done? Your first look? Are you revealing your dress to your father?”

“Oh, I hadn’t thought about that…or any of this…”

Panic sets in

Have no fear! Your trusty wedding photographer friend (me) is here!

Lots of time for hair and makeup

Have you ever heard the saying “No wedding ever runs on time.”

After photographing dozens of weddings I can say that 9 out of 10 times delays are created during hair and make up.

You should give your wedding party ample time to get ready and have your hair and make up done. Many times, you’ll need to ask your makeup artist to make a few weeks. These tweets are time consuming.

If you plan to step in to your dress at 1pm, you should start hair and makeup between 9-10 am. Keep in mind, when you’ve started hair and makeup most of your bridal party should be done with theirs.

Have your details ready

When your photographer walks in to your room while you’re still getting ready all we want to do is help you save time and capture those details for you.

By having the dress, shoes, flowers, rings, invitations already set aside you save time and you can focus on other things.

I’m sure you don’t want to have to run around on your wedding day looking for everything just to have them captured in an image. Make sure they are placed on the side in a safe place the night before.

Plan a first look

I can not tell you how many people say to me “We want to enjoy our cocktail hour.”

I want you to enjoy your cocktail hour!

When you do a first look you eliminate a lot of the images that would have been scheduled during your cocktail hour. Most of the couples portraits, the bridal party, family formals and some fun images usually get done in this time.

If there are more images you want we can always take a private moment to do them after the ceremony. However, during this time we are not rushing and you are less stressed.

Set aside about an hour and a half to two hours for the first look and all of the images that coincide with this.

Plan the reception events

During your reception things can unravel quickly. How do you avoid this? Preplan everything.

Knowing and communicating when the dances will happen, when the toasts will happen and what time you will cut the cake keeps everything in order.

Bonus tip: Working with a wedding planner can really help. These professionals are experts in wedding timelines and how to put out fire drills that might arise during the day. I’d highly recommend someone like Julio Dujarric for caribbean destination and NYC weddings.

Bonus tip 2: If possible, plan to have your ceremony and reception at the same site. This will really cut back on travel time and illuminate confusion among guests.

Place a time limit on your toasts

We’ve all been to the wedding where drunk cousin Alan has droned on and on for about 45 mins before anyone really remembered that he was actually giving a speech!

Easy fix, set a time limit for the speeches. Give everyone a limit of 5-10 mins. Long enough for them to get emotional and pause for a moment but short enough to hold everyones attention.

Also this solves the first issue we had, when drunk cousin Alan gets up there and starts talking, he’s already written down a short (ish) speech that can be easily managed.

My gift to you

Hopefully, these tips can help you plan your timeline and share it with all of your wedding venders.

I have created a sample timeline for you to use and tweet for your own wedding.

Crystal Stewart