Let's get straight to it! I offer custom timeline planning to all of my brides! I send out a series of questionnaires and assist in the minute details. This looks different for every single bride. No one wedding will be identical to another! I have some brides who type up their timelines in pretty fonts and print them out for the bridal party, while others send me a facebook message with the details its all okay as long as it gets done! My number one tip for brides is to MAKE a plan and keep EVERYONE in the loop! Send it to everyone who could need it. Deciding your wedding timeline can be stressful but I've got a few tips that I hope will help! (and if I'm photographing your wedding, I'm here to help along the way)
I already mentioned my number 1 tip: MAKE A PLAN! Go into your wedding week knowing you already have a plan for your big day. (this is especially important if you don't have a wedding planner; if you don't, you should highly consider assigning someone to be your day of coordinator!)
SOO how do you get started on making this plan you may wonder? Your whole wedding schedule will be based off of your ceremony & reception times! Some brides have Pinterest boards of girls in matching robes with champagne, while others want their reception fully documented. Deciding this right away can help determine how many hours you would like your photographer for and start/end times. Some brides will dedicate more time to getting ready photos while others will use that time on formal portraits with the bridal party!
GETTING READY: I always recommend at least 30 minutes for getting ready photos. Have your details ready! This could include stationary, jewelry, shoes, perfume, special momentos, and anything else you'd like captured. This will ensure the photographer can get those detail shots while also capturing the getting ready atmosphere. (Tip! When choosing your getting ready location choose somewhere with windows and on the day of the wedding have somebody tidy up before the photographer arrives)
Oh yes, the highly debated first look! I have found most people usually feel strongly one way or another. From a photography stand point the first look is a wonderful. It gives an opportunity for a private and intimate meeting before walking down the aisle and takes the nerves off. Also, it typically helps ensure you have a smoother running timeline without a huge gap in between your ceremony and reception. When your partner sees you walking down the aisle it is STILL special!! I recommend scheduling your first look to take 10 minutes and to move to your formal portraits from there. Which should be an additional 30 minutes minimum. I also love to sneak my couple's off for some sunset pictures during their reception. Most couples spend 15 minutes on that!
BRIDAL PARTY pictures: Depending on your timeline (first look/no first look) these could take place before or after your ceremony. I recommend dedicating at least 15 minutes to each category. 15 minutes for bridesmaids, 15 minutes for groomsmen, and 15 minutes for the bridal party all together.
The more time you have for photos the more photos you will have! Some couple's will stick to the 15 minutes dedicated while others plan out more time. Both options are fine! And it is ultimately up to the couple how much time they have and how they want to utilize that time.
I always have my bride's take all of their family photos immediately after the ceremony. It is so important to communicate with everyone clearly about these photos! This part of the day is usually the most stressful, but it doesn't have to be! I send my brides a planning guide to help determine who should be in these photos and what combinations they would like. They then make a list for us to run through, to make sure nobody gets left out and to ensure good use of time! I highly recommend keeping this to your immediate family and doing any/all other family combinations at the reception.
Some groupings that I recommend are: Bride and Groom with each set of parents! Bride with mom and dad (together and separately)! Groom with mom and dad (together and separately)! Bride and Groom with Brides parents, siblings, spouses and children. Bride and Groom with Grooms parents, siblings, spouses and children. Bride with siblings! Groom with siblings! Bride and groom with her grandparents! Bride and groom with his grandparents.
The timings of these are dependent on the individual. Everybody has different traditions and events that take place! I offer timing suggestions to my couple's once I know what traditions they are doing and what time they have hired me until. (to ensure I can capture all that they would like!) I do have a couple tips to help with the general planning! Always plan a little extra time for everything. Wedding timelines should always have a little wiggle room. The day of never goes exactly as planned and that should be OKAY! If you provide a little extra room for each event you'll have that wiggle room for when something goes a little longer than planned.
These tips might not work for every bride and they are just my take on what I have observed from being in the wedding industry! Everybody's timeline and day will look different and its not a one size fits all deal. Having a rough idea of timings should help when planning your day and securing your vendors! But also the people providing a service for you should be there along the way to help and offer their professional opinion. Remember, we are specialists in this area but ultimately it is YOUR day and we work for you! So take everyone's advice then do what you think will work best for you.