Is anyone else as obsessed with HGTV as I am? It’s just the best. I love great design, and seeing old homes transform with love, care, and sweat. Have you noticed on those house flip shows that they usually find things they weren’t expecting? A rotten beam or leaky plumbing can wreck their whole budget – unless they plan for the unexpected.
Take my favorite couple – Chip and Jo. They always plan a contingency budget when they are pricing out what each couple can afford to buy. To stay within their original budget, they don’t just plan for the expected renovation costs. They set aside a chunk of money for the inevitable hidden problems they find when they peel those old walls back. They expect the unexpected.
Think about planning your wedding day timeline like you are writing a budget for a house flip – plan for the unexpected.
There are so many unexpected things that can happen on a wedding day – a zipper breaking, someone showing up late, hair and makeup taking longer than you thought, traffic on the way to the venue, the flower girl puking in your bouquet… you get the idea. These “emergencies” can completely wreck your timeline, just like those leaky old pipes, which is why you ~sneakily~ plan for them with your contingency timeline “budget.” Think that putting your dress on will take 15 minutes? Plan for 30 – and use that as a general rule as you build your timeline. Allow yourself grace and room to breathe on your wedding day! Worst case scenario, you have just enough time to get where you need to be; best case, you have extra time throughout your wedding day to relax and enjoy yourself. That sounds pretty great to me.
So now you’re probably saying, “Okay Sarah, you’ve talked a lot about how much you love the Gaines, but we already knew that and we came here to learn how to make a timeline.” Have no fear, friends, the timeline is here. 🙂
I will be drafting the timeline from the perspective of the photographer… because I am a photographer. I may be a bit biased, but I think it is important to mold your timeline around your photography – and if you’ve invested in quality photography, you probably agree with me! When I am trusted to capture a wedding day, the weight of that responsibility weighs heavy on my heart, and I want to make sure I can give each of my couples the best end product I possibly can. When you choose to plan specific times throughout the day for photography, you help guarantee that your investment in your wedding portraits will be worth it. Your timeline will also be valuable if you are only paying for your photographer for a set amount of hours. Typically as a photographer I will stay during the reception for any important moments such as speeches, cake cutting, special dances, and leave after a few party shots. By not planning for me to stay throughout the whole rowdy reception, you can plan more time throughout the day for portraits and contingency time!
Consider this a rough draft. Use this as a base to launch from when crafting your own timeline, remembering to plan for the unexpected and give yourself plenty of wiggle room!
- Bride and bridal party get hair and makeup done – variable
- photographer arrives for finishing touches of hair and makeup, this will also be when I shoot dress, rings, shoes, and any other details – 30-45 minutes
- getting into dress and bridal portraits – 30 minutes
- bridal party portraits – 30 minutes
- groom and groomsmen getting ready, details, and portraits – 30 minutes
- first look (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND) and few portraits – 30 minutes
- whole bridal party portraits and any family photos possible, if desired – 45 minutes
- quick snack/pee break (seriously, plan this) and travel to ceremony site if necessary
- bride arrives to ceremony site and is hidden from view at least 30 minutes before ceremony begins
- family and bridal party portraits following ceremony, if not completed earlier – variable based on size of family, typically 30 – 45 minutes
- cocktail hour and reception – time to RELAX and enjoy! This is usually when I’ll sneak into the reception and capture those details before the guests enter.
- Depending on the time of day, you may choose to shoot golden hour portraits at some point during cocktail hour or the reception. If I’m your photographer, I’ll be happy to find the best time with you! You’ll probably want to plan at least 30 minutes for these portraits. They often become your favorite photos of the day! And don’t worry if you choose to leave your reception briefly for golden hour – we’ll still find some time to get some photos of you and your girls.
I hope this is helpful for all you brides to be! If you’re one of my brides, we’ll dive even further into this before your wedding to make sure we are both 100% confident in your game plan. 🙂
Thanks for looking,