Planning out your wedding timeline is essential for keeping you and your wedding vendors on the same page and setting up the day to run as smoothly as possible.
That way you don't end up in the awkward situation of asking your vendors to stay an extra hour or so because "Uncle Bob still hasn't made his 30 minute speech and we were supposed to do the first dance a half hour ago".
Here are a few tips:
- Talk to your hairdresser/makeup artist about how long it will take for her to glam-ify you and all your girls so you don't end up starting too late.
- Find out drive times from your getting ready location to the ceremony, ceremony to reception, and anywhere else you might plan on stopping on the day. If you decide that you would like to go to some unique location for bridal party and couples portraits make sure to factor that drive time into the schedule as well.
- Will the ceremony be outside? If so, the time of day and where the sun will be may determine which direction you face the alter and chairs for guests. It just might be that there's a cool west facing lookout spot at your ceremony location (which you plan on using as a backdrop) however, by 4 pm the sun has lowered just enough that your guests will be squinting their way through most of the ceremony. Another common mistake is setting up the isle so that when you make your grand entrance the sun is shining directly into the Groom's face. Instead of that amazed and teary-eyed face you thought he'd make when he first sees you, he's making an ugly squinty face as he's partially blinded trying watch you come down the isle.
- Family Photos. Write down a list of all the different combinations of people you will need to get a formal family photo with and give a copy to your photographer before the wedding. ("God forbid we forget to get one with Aunt Peggy, she'll never let us forget it"). On average ceremonies last about 40 minutes with 5-10 minutes of hugs and congrats afterwards. Typically, the family portraits directly follow the ceremony and take place at the ceremony location. Even with a list in hand, trying to gather everyone up for each round of photos can be pretty tricky. So if you know you are going to have a long list of formal family shots definitely try to have at least 30-40 minutes set aside for this.
- Bridal Party and Couple's Photos. If you are really into getting lots of portraits and want different sceneries to mix it up, again make sure you've allotted the time to do it. Around 1-1.5 hrs is usually pretty good. Anything more than that and your guests may start to wonder why you aren't back at the party.
- Give your speech makers a speech time limit. This ensures you don't have any ramblers that cause people to fall asleep in their first course.
- First Dance, Cake Cutting, Bouquet Toss, and Speeches are formalities whose time slots can all afford to be pushed around on the day if need be. It is good to have them planned out ahead of time so that your photographer can anticipate when it's going to happen. However, these are easy to move around if necessary. (Just make sure to inform the photographer)