TIMELINE TIPS FOR A STRESS-FREE WEDDING DAY

MeehanWedding-HannahsFavs-88.jpg

One of the biggest sources of frustration during the wedding process is the drafting of a cohesive and balanced timeline. You know exactly what you want your day to look and feel like, but you are unsure whether or not you should have your first dance before or after dinner. And that is okay! We secretly love helping craft perfect timelines - mostly so that we know we will be able to capture all the important moments, but also to give you and your partner some peace of mind! Below are 5 steps we take every time we draft a timeline.

1) First look or traditional?

2018WeddingPortfolio-Hobbie-20.jpg

The first thing we ask each and every client is if they want to have a first look or not. In case you are new to the wedding world, a first look is when the couple sees each other before the ceremony and gets to share a private moment together. Having a first look means that we will have tons of time to knock most of the portraits out before the ceremony, but opting to forgo the first look is totally fine! Some couples really want to stick with tradition and have the first time their partner sees them is at the aisle. Regardless, this is one of the most important aspects in the timeline crafting process! Let’s set up a hypothetical scenario, where Theo is marrying Mizuna (those are our pets names - don’t judge) and they opt to have a first look. I will also show an example at the end of a timeline without a first look.

2018WeddingPortfolio-Hobbie-21.jpg

2) Back to the basics

2018WeddingPortfolio-Ralston-35.jpg

Now that we know about the first look, it is time to set up the bare bones of the timeline. Here, we mainly need to know when the ceremony is, how much we should budget for travel time (if any is required), and when the couple is entering the reception.  Other important tips to know is that ceremonies typically last anywhere from 10-30 minutes (unless it is a full Catholic mass), but we always choose to budget thirty minutes - especially important in case anyone runs late! Also, we ideally would want an hour to an hour and a half of portrait time after the ceremony. This is not as necessary if we do a first look, but is totally needed if there is no first look! If (and most likely, when) we finish up early, you get to mingle with your guests at cocktail hour! In our hypothetical world, Theo + Mizuna’s ceremony starts at 5pm in June. Here is a look at our timeline so far:

???? - First look (we will talk about timing of this later)
5pm - Ceremony
5:30pm - Ceremony ends
6:30pm - Theo + Mizuna enter into the reception

3) Fill in the rest of the portraits

2018WeddingPortfolio-Ralston-45.jpg

First up: family portraits. We always, always recommend that we do extended family portraits after the ceremony, since everyone is already gathered in one location. Pro tip: Ask your officiant to announce that family needs stay at the site following the ceremony and not wander off. We usually budget for about 30 minutes for this, directly after the ceremony. Afterwards, we want to schedule bridal party portraits. Since Theo + Mizuna are doing a first look, the bridal party portraits will be after that. If there was no first look, they would take place immediately following the family portraits after the ceremony. Finally, we want to pick a time for the first look. Working backwards from when the ceremony is, we like to do the first look no later than one and a half hours prior to the start of the ceremony. In this case, we have extra space, so we do it 2 hours before the ceremony starts. Here is our updated timeline:

3 - First look + couple portraits
3:45 - Bridal party photos
4:30 - Hide until ceremony + finish touches!
5pm - Ceremony
5:30pm - Ceremony ends
5:35 - Extended family portraits
6:05 - Theo + Mizuna hang out at cocktail hour for a few minutes
6:25 - Guests are invited to find their seats for dinner
6:30pm - Theo + Mizuna enter into the reception

4) Don’t forget about sunset!

If you guys know me at all, you know that I am a sucker for sunset photos. UNless someone totally objects, I always steal couples away for photos just a few moments before sunset to get those golden glowy photos we all love. It super easy to find out when the sunset it - just google “sunset on DATE in CITY” and it’ll pull up! In this case, the sunset is at 8:41pm, so we will put that on the timeline.

5) The beginning and the end

Now that we have all the important portraits and such scheduled, it is time to put together the getting ready and reception timelines. This might involve some conversation with your make up artist, hair stylist, coordinator for the band (or the DJ!). Other getting ready things to think about: do you want a first look with your dad/step-dad/mom? Do you have any special gifts or ceremonies you want to partake in before the first look? This is also the time to think about what activities you want to partake in at the reception - bouquet toss, garter retrieval/toss, cake cutting? Do you want a sparkler or Glo-stick exit from your reception at the end of the night?

Here is what a final sample timeline would look like:

1 - Hannah arrives and shoots details, girls/guys getting ready
2:15 - Bride getting into her dress
2:40 - First look with dad
3 - First look + couple portraits
3:45 - Bridal party photos
4:30 - Hide until ceremony + finishing touches!
5pm - Ceremony
5:30pm - Ceremony ends
5:35 - Extended family portraits
6:05 - Theo + Mizuna hang out at cocktail hour for a few minutes
6:25 - Guests are invited to find their seats for dinner
6:30pm - Theo + Mizuna enter into the reception
6:35 - First dance
6:40 - Blessing + dinner is served!
7:30 - Toasts
7:50 - Father-daughter and/or mother-son dances
8 - Open dancing
8:20 - Sunset photos
8:40 - Back to reception
8:45 - Cake cutting
9 - Photographers leave
10 - End of reception