Wedding Wednesday | Building the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline


WW_TimelineHelp_FeatureImage1I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a wedding day timeline! I tell all of my Emma Loo Brides that a timeline is essential and we work together a couple weeks before the day to make one! It sure keeps her wedding day from being one unorganized chaotic event and above all, it makes my Bride a little less stressed about the wedding day!! Consider it as crossing off one MAJOR aspect of the day off her list!

Wedding timelines are A MUST when planning a wedding! Especially if you plan to have lots of different events take place throughout the course of your big day! Plus, wedding timelines help keep everything on track AND lets everyone know when and where they must be.  Believe me, early on in my shooting career (when I didn’t take care of the timelines!) I saw weddings go horribly wrong because groomsmen didn’t know what time to be where and ceremonies start way after the scheduled time because of not factoring in enough time to get the BRIDE ready!

Even some of the most casual weddings and the most laid back Brides and Grooms need to create a timeline before their big day.  It’s a necessity that seriously almost every bride hates to think about! However, the timeline will set the stage for the rest of the day and also set the stress level of your wedding day! You may not think about it now, but if you’re rushed — you’ll be stressed.  A wedding day isn’t meant for STRESS! It’s for enjoying yourself and loving every single moment of the entire day!

Here’s some things to keep in mind while creating YOUR wedding day timeline:

1.) Consider the time of day and time of year you’re getting married!  If you’re getting married in the middle of summertime, you may not need to worry about this too much since the sun won’t set until 8:15pm or later! If you’re planning a wedding in fall or winter, you may want to think about a planning an earlier ceremony time…especially when it comes to portraits and family formals.   You should want to make sure there is enough natural light for the entire length of the portraits following the ceremony (I suggest at least 90-120 minutes prior to sunset time!). For ceremonies that take place in fall or winter time, (or even later in the day ceremonies in the summertime) I always suggest we do a First Look before the ceremony in order to capture portraits with enough available natural light that takes place prior to the ceremony instead of waiting until after the ceremony to start portraits! The sunshine and light will be GONE by then!  Be sure to Google the sunset time on your wedding day BEFORE you plan your ceremony time.

2.) Always build in travel time from ceremony and reception venues or locations.  Allow for enough travel time between ceremony and reception locations.  Before you set your ceremony time, do a test run and drive the distance between your ceremony and reception location.  Then add 5-10 minutes to the drive time to allow for traffic (especially common on Saturday nights or depending on the ceremony location!) or other detours along the way.  Some brides will say that this doesn’t apply to them because their ceremony and reception locations are in the same venue! Although, you need to factor this in because it may take Grammy longer to walk over to the family formal portrait location than it does you!

3.) Consider enough time to get ready! A 8:00am hair and make-up start time might sound SCARY, but trust me! The earlier you get started, the better! Talk with your hair and makeup artist and see exactly how long they will take on each head of hair and each face.  It might be a good idea to add 10-15 additional minutes onto their estimate just incase, especially if you have a large bridal party! Have all of your bridesmaids follow their guidelines for arrival like having a fresh, clean face and completely dried hair to save time when getting ready.  Most importantly, show up early to get started earlier, because the earlier the better! Even just being 5-10 minutes late can put everyone else behind!  Underestimated hair and make-up time is the number one reason why weddings don’t start on time from my personal experience! Make sure to hire professionals (like my girls Jennifer, Bailey, and Nicole!) to ensure your wedding day hair and make-up will stay on schedule and be completed way before scheduled time! ALSO, if you have lots of bridesmaids, you need to have more than one or two stylists!

4.) Steam dresses and try on your dress the night before! PLEASE don’t wait until 10 minutes before we’re supposed to start Bridal Party Portraits to steam your gown.  Have your Bridesmaids steam their dresses the night before the wedding day and just be careful with transporting them to the Bridal Suite.  It may be a good idea to try on your dress a day or two before your wedding day to make sure everything still fits correctly (SO many brides LOSE weight the week of the wedding!) that way you’ll have enough time to make any adjustments if needed.

5.) Allow enough time for portraits! (Your photographer will thank you!) Allowing enough time for portraits is crucial! If you’re already hiring and paying for a photographer to capture your wedding day, you might as well include enough time for portraits…especially the family formal, bridal party, and romantic portraits (especially the romantic portraits! These are the images that’ll hang on your walls in your home for the rest of your life! Allow enough time for these special portraits!) I request at least an hour following the ceremony to photograph ALL family formals, bridal party portraits, and romantic portraits.  That’s IF the bride and groom want simple, nearby locations and don’t have any special requests for certain types of images.  If there’s a lot of different locations they’d like to use or a large family or bridal party they want photos with, I suggest a little longer between the ceremony and reception.  I always have Brides and Grooms who want to enjoy cocktail hour along with their guests or want to get to their reception faster. If that’s the case, then I suggest having a First Look before the ceremony! That way we can photograph ALL bridal party and romantic portraits and some of the family portraits BEFORE the ceremony even begins! Plus, you’ll get about 45% MORE portraits from your day and it won’t even feel like it took you any longer, but you’ll definitely get more for your money! (Plus! You’ll get to be with your groom longer on your actual wedding day! It’s a win-win!)

6.) Allow for your photographer to capture details and the reception space UNTOUCHED! This is SUPER important, especially if you’re a bride who as worked so hard on those little details! Your wedding day will go by SO fast! On my own wedding day, I didn’t even get to see all of the table centerpieces that I had worked so hard on FOR MONTHS to organize and create! Thankfully I have images from the wedding of those centerpieces, but it wouldn’t have been possible without our photographer! Have all of your bridal details in one place for your photographer to capture and it’ll make it SO much easier on them! (I always shoot the bridal details at the very beginning of the day! I start with the dress and go from there! I ask that all of my Emma Loo Brides keep their details in a bag for me to carry to the location that I’ll shoot the details in! It makes it SO much easier for me, and I shoot these a whole lot faster when everything is organized!) Getting untouched and empty room reception spaces is super important and only requires about 5-10 minutes of shooting time.  Either have your reception space set up and ready to photograph at start of photography coverage or have a time set aside for your photographer to enter the space before any guests arrive.

7.) Make sure to include locations and who is involved with the timeline events. This will come in super handy when you make copies for your bridal party and immediate families involved in the portrait times.  Knowing who is supposed to be where is always a nice piece of important information to share! Your families will thank you and your stress level will decrease, especially when you don’t have 100 different questions with the same answer! You can give everyone a timeline with who, what, and where in detail! You may even want to consider a timeline for your entire wedding weekend including the rehearsal dinner and after-wedding brunches!

8.) Plan to create your timeline 6-8 weeks prior to your wedding day! Some brides want to get a jumpstart on building a timeline and I don’t blame them! (I was THAT bride too once!) However, details may change and vendor times may be different! So wait until 6-8 weeks prior to your wedding day to create the official wedding day timeline for your day! I always check in with my brides 6-8 weeks out to start helping them create a timeline for their big day.  For lots of my brides they say that making the timeline has been SO helpful when preparing for their day, which makes me SO happy! If you decide to hire a wedding coordinator (like my girls Sammie or Marielthey will help build these timelines for you the moment you book with them, so it’s super helpful! They will take care of the wedding day timeline for you weeks before wedding day AND even on the actual day to make sure your day flows nicely, stays organized, and allows you to relax, have fun, and enjoy your day!

9.) Allow “Insurance Time”I call it insurance time because you always want to allow more time than expected! Especially on a busy wedding day….and especially if you have lots of events/people/things to coordinate! Allowing an extra 5-10 minutes to each scheduled event on the timeline is a fail-safe way to always run on schedule, and most likely AHEAD of schedule, which is a PLUS! Building in this extra time to your timeline is crucial! Even if it is only 5 minutes, it will add up!  Trust me, a spaced out organized timeline is way better than a crunched up, chaotic one!

10.) RELAX!!!

So take the time to build a timeline and share it with your wedding party as well as families! You’ll be SO glad that you did! Hire the right professionals who will take the time to do this for you and build your timeline to maximize your portrait time as well! After the wedding day is all said and done, when you have only the images from the wedding day to look back on, you’ll be so happy to look at those images and know that you were completely calm and stress-free during those moments because you took the time to develop a well-organized wedding day timeline weeks before!




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