Let’s face it! Your wedding day is the most exciting day of your life. You have spent your entire life planning this day and you want everything to be PERFECT! You have probably put a lot of thought and planning into the tiny details such as the beading that will attach to a particular flower that will compliment your table center pieces. You have probably spent an entire year looking for the PERFECT stationary to use for your invitations. You have even thought about the exact details that you want on your wedding cake, and the exact flowers you want used in your bouquet.
But what about the details that your guests will never see? Generally these details are handled by your wedding planner and/or coordinator, which by the way I strongly encourage every couple getting married to have! But if you are a DIY bride, and you are handling all of your wedding details on your own, then you will have to consider these “behind the scenes” details all on your own.
So let’s discuss your wedding day timeline. Did you realize that there is more to consider than the time of your hair appointment? The time that the ceremony begins? The time that you cut your cake? There are so many things that go into putting together an effective timeline, and I will share with you some things to consider from your wedding photographer’s perspective.
One of the most time consuming parts of your wedding day will be your photos. Other than your wedding coordinator, you will spend more time with your wedding photographer than any other vendor that you hire. Your wedding photographer should be able to tell you what time everyone needs to be ready and available for photos, whether this is before or after the ceremony. One thing to consider is that the bigger your wedding party, the more time will be needed. But there is so much more than that.
Let’s say your wedding begins at 5:00 pm. You have three bridesmaids and three groomsmen, and you and your significant other has decided that you do not want to see each other before the ceremony. Your photographer may suggest that the groom and the groomsmen be ready to start shooting at 3:00 pm. They may spend 30 minutes shooting the guys, while the bride and the bridesmaids are finishing up getting ready. Your photographer will then hide the groom away so that the bride can come out for her photos. Then the photographer will spend another 30 minutes or so shooting the bride and her bridesmaids. By the time both sides of the wedding party has been photographed, it is 4:15 and your guests are starting to arrive (because there are always early arrivals). Since the bride needs to be hidden at this point, she must also go hide and get ready to walk down the aisle.
But let’s say that your wedding is scheduled to begin at 5:00 pm and you have a huge wedding party. If you have ten bridesmaids and ten groomsmen and ushers, then you are going to need to plan to start shooting photos way earlier than 3:00 as described in the previous example. You may need to plan on shooting by 2:00 pm in order to shoot both sides of the wedding party before needing to hide from your guests.
One way to shed some of the time off of both scenarios described above is to agree to see each other before the ceremony. Agreeing to a First Look will allow the bride and groom a few moments to themselves before allowing both sides of the wedding party to be present at the same time. It takes time to put away the groom so that the bride can come out to shoot. Not having to hide one party from the other saves lots of time. I will always suggest a First Look to my clients… especially if they have a large wedding party. But do you want to know what my favorite part of a First Look is? My favorite part is when the groom sees his bride for the very first time that day, and in her wedding dress, and that look of relaxation and relief washes over his face because he is stunned at how beautiful she is. And guess what? I’ve captured that look on his face with my camera! There is so much emotion that usually takes place during a First Look session.
But let’s get back to the timeline. Regardless of whether you start shooting an hour before your wedding or five hours before your wedding, there are other things to consider.
Hair and Makeup:
Are you getting ready at home? At a salon? At your wedding venue? No matter where you decide to get ready, you need to make sure that you allow yourself enough time to get to where you need to be. If you are scheduled to be in front of the camera at 2:00, then you need to make sure that hair and makeup is complete for the entire bridal party, while also allowing yourself enough time for travel.
Have you worked out a time with your florist as to when your flowers will be delivered? If you are scheduled to be in front of the camera at 2:00, then it makes no sense to tell your florist to have your flowers delivered at 3:00. You will all need your bouquets and boutonnieres in your photos. So make sure you work out the delivery of your flowers to arrive in time for photos.
You have spent TONS of money putting together the perfect wedding and reception. It would really stink if you walked away from your wedding day without any photos of every detail that went into that. Generally I like to go into the reception area and shoot details as soon as I am finished shooting formal shots. Once the bride is tucked away, away from the guests who are arriving, I try to sneak into the reception area for shots of the room. This includes a shot of the entire room, as well as detail shots of your wedding cake, favors, center pieces, tables, chairs, candles, food set-up, etc. These shots are always much better when there are no guests in the room. However one thing that you must consider when you are planning your timeline is this:
If we are finished shooting formals at 4:00, and your wedding starts at 5:00, then you need to make sure that your catering company is set up and in place by 4:15. You need to make sure that your wedding cake artist has arrived in time to deliver your cake, as well as to make sure that the cake table is set up and complete. Your florist, or whoever is in charge of placing your center pieces on the tables, has everything set up. If you plan on lighting candles at your reception, then those candles need to be lit before I can take a shot of the entire room. So you will need to designate a time and a person to have this done. Your tables need to be set, etc. However you want this room to look when your guests walk into the room, you need to plan on making it look that way early enough for your photographer to photograph. There are many ways to work this part of the timeline to benefit everyone. You may choose to offer a cocktail hour for your guests. This buys more time for all of your vendors. One of my brides who is getting married at a historical home in Nashville, has arranged for her guests to take a tour of the home before walking into the reception area. If you can plan something like this for your wedding day, then your photographer and your caterer will be on cloud nine! If not… we work it out by getting things done early!
The biggest point I’m trying to make here is that you should always consult your wedding photographer when making out your timeline. Many brides are under the impression that they can simply make out the timeline the way they think it should be made, and then the vendors will just have to adhere to that schedule. Most vendors will not have a problem with this because they are not usually thinking about the photos. But from a photographer’s perspective, we are detail oriented. We want to make sure that you have photos of the flowers that you spent thousands of dollars on. We want to make sure that you have photos of your wedding cake. We want to make sure that you have photos of your candy buffet that you ordered for your reception. At the end of the day, what is important is that you and your significant other are together and married. But it would stink to spend thousands of dollars on your wedding and then not have any photos of all of those details that you carefully planned. So be sure to consult your photographer before you schedule delivery and setup times with your other vendors.
Many brides are planning their own wedding. I love it when a bride can pull off an amazing wedding on her own. But let’s face it. There are so many things to consider that most bride’s simply do not realize. And from a photographer’s perspective, I want to make sure that I do my absolute best and that every wedding couple walks away from their wedding day with amazing photos. That is why I offer my brides 10% off if they have, in fact, hired a professional wedding planner or coordinator. If you need any recommendations for a wedding planner or coordinator, I will be happy to refer a few that I have worked with that are simply amazing! And together, we can make sure that your wedding day is PERFECT!