The Perfect Timeline
I wish we could just hand over an exact map to your ideal timeline. Unfortunately, a perfect universal timeline just doesn’t exist. Below is a series of important questions you should consider having your timeline answer along with some tips to consider when planning each event.
When will you eat breakfast and lunch?
Even if you’re not hungry, eat a little bit, it’s going to be a long day. Plan ahead on what you and your entourage will eat then assign a team member in advance to be in charge of making sure that is taken care of.
When will the hair & make-up team arrive?
Be sure to discuss your timeline thoroughly with your hair and make-up team. Remember, they’ll probably need time to set up. Also, consider starting your timeline with selecting when you would like everyone to be completely ready by and then working your way back from there.
When should bridesmaids arrive?
Elaborate to your bridesmaids how they should arrive, discuss these options with your hair & make-up team. Should they come with already washed hair? Should their skin be free of make-up? Should they avoid washing their hair the day of? etc.
When should the photographer(s) arrive?
For a detailed guidelines on how much time your photographer needs to capture all your desired portraits and candid’s visit our photography time guidelines blog.
When should hair & make-up start?
When in doubt, ADD MORE TIME! Now, I don’t want to freak you out… But, of all the things we see run over in time, this is the most common. Also, consider having your own hair and make-up done last, so that it’s fresh for photos and ceremony.
When should the bridesmaids be ready by?
If you’re having the “getting ready” portion of your day photographed, consider having the bridesmaid get dressed before you, so that they are fully dressed during the capture of you putting your dress on.
When should the groomsmen arrive?
Consider giving the groomsmen a simplified timeline, containing only timeframes that apply to them, so the important times aren’t lost in the “fluff” especially if they plan on indulging in some beverages while they get ready.
When should the groom & groomsmen be ready by?
Assign boutonniere placement to a team member in advance so that the guys aren’t scrambling to find someone who can. Consider asking a meaningful person such as a grandmother.
When will flowers be delivered?
Don’t hesitate to delegate the management of tasks such as this. Making sure the flowers are delivered to the right place at the right time is important. But it’s the last thing you should have to worry about while having your foundation applied.
When will the cake be delivered?
Be sure to discuss where the cake will be stored after it arrives. Some cakes/cake décor can be temperature sensitive. Involve your cake expert in these decisions.
When should the ceremony & reception be decorated by?
Be sure to check with your venue(s) for restrictions. Some venues will allow you to set up the night before, while other’s limit you to only an hour prior.
When will the bride put her dress on?
If you are planning on having this photographed, consider who you would like to be present/assisting you. Make sure your timeline instructs them to be dressed and ready by this time so that they are “photo ready” for this event.
Will you be having a first look, if so when?
A first look can help the timeline of the day flow a little bit smoother. Consider allotting time for a first look with anyone who is important to you (father, groom, etc.) One majorly overlooked benefit of first looks is the moment of peace and togetherness it gives you that you may otherwise not have the opportunity to find.
When will you have pre-ceremony portraits?
We highly recommend completing as many portraits as possible before the ceremony as to not extend the cocktail hour too much. Plus, after your ceremony is over, you’ll be antsy to get to your reception. Don’t forget to visit our photography time guidelines blog to determine how much time to allow for portraits.
When will the officiant arrive on site?
Consider who will be bringing the marriage license, someone may need to meet the officiant to transfer documents.
When should the bride be hidden away by?
Often times pre-ceremony portraits take place in plain view of the arrival of guests. Be sure to plan on having these wrapped up at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony start time.
When does the ceremony start and what is the order of the ceremony events?
The order of ceremony events is something we often see omitted from timelines. But it’s incredibly important to your photographer(s). We at times need to be changing positions, changing lenses or cameras, etc. and knowing exactly what is going to happen next can help prevent the possibility of missing it.
How long will the recessional take?
Don’t make the mistake of assuming everyone will know where to be after the ceremony ends. Also, if you don’t plan on having a receiving line, be sure to duck out of sight so you don’t end up with an accidental one because if your guests see you, they won’t be able to resist planting a hug on you. If you are having a receiving line, allot around 20 seconds per guest within your timeline.
When will you sign the marriage license?
Arrange in advance who will be present and when and where the signing will take place.
Let included family members know in advance where they are expected to be after the ceremony for family formals. Consider assignment a team member with the task of gathering stragglers. Don’t forget to visit our photography time guidelines blog to determine how much time to allow for portraits.
When will the cocktail hour start?
Consider when the majority of the guests will be arriving at the cocktail location. How long will the recessional take? How long will travel take?
When will the caterer arrive?
Never assume ANY vendor will be ready to provide services the moment they arrive. Be sure to discuss arrival times thoroughly to ensure proper set up time is included.
When will the DJ arrive?
Sometimes the DJ can have some rather large equipment. Be sure to check your venue for large enough entrances to fit larger items through.
When should the DJ be ready to greet guests?
Nothing is more awkward than a quiet reception hall. Be sure to allow the DJ plenty of time to set up so that they are active by the time of the arrival of guests.
When will the reception start and what is the order of the reception events?
Much like the order of the ceremony, knowing the order and timing of the reception is vital to making sure we are present and ready to capture it. The wedding party will also be more likely to be present during these events if they know exactly when they are happening. Here are some possible events to consider the timing for: grand entrances, first dance, cake cutting, welcome toast, opening prayer, dinner, sunset portraits, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, wedding party toasts, garter toss, bouquet toss, other preconceived reception games/dances (consult DJ), last call, last dance, reception end time.