Over the years I have photographed a lot of weddings and in doing so, I have learned a lot about the various ways to make your wedding day run smoothly. I want to take some time and share with you one of the most helpful things I have learned during my time so far as a wedding photographer: the importance of having a wedding day timeline! A big misconception about weddings is that you can just go with the flow and things will fall into place. While this might be somewhat true, it certainly makes things a lot more stressful! Which is not what you want to be on your wedding day. From a photography standpoint, getting those beautiful swoon worthy images does take careful planning to make sure we have the time we need for stunning photos while still ensuring that you have plenty of time to spend with friends and loved ones. But I believe that there is a balance to this – and the secret is the wedding day timeline.
Now, if you haven’t thought that far ahead, don’t stress! It’s actually pretty common. In fact, most of my brides don’t think about it until their planner or even I bring it up. If you don’t have a planner I do recommend getting one! Imagine having someone take over all of those tiny little details you have floating around in your head and that wedding planning binder of yours and whip them up into your dream wedding! Did you know that you can even hire a day of coordinator for your wedding? No matter your budget or wedding needs, there is a planner out there for you. Personally, I recommend Christina Burton Events, Hoosier by Design or Design the Day Events but there are so many talented planners in Indianapolis alone!
If your wedding budget doesn’t allow for a planner, that is okay too! I will happily work with you to make sure you have a timeline that allows us to accomplish your wedding day vision. Things might not always go exactly according to plan, but having a general game plan is a great way to keep things on track.
A timeline will help all of your vendors know when and where they need to be in order to serve you best. There are a lot of questions your vendors will have for you so having a timeline ready to go will help you prepare for those! For example – when should the florist show up with the flowers? When should the cake be delivered? What time should dinner be served? These are all things that are very important to know on your wedding day and thinking of those details ahead of time will spare you from wondering where the bouquets are when it’s time for photos with your bridesmaids.
Timelines are also very helpful when it comes to keeping your bridal party on track. I recommend that brides email at least one bridesmaid and one groomsmen a copy of the timeline prior to the wedding so that they can have it on their phone. You’d be amazed at how much this helps! This person usually steps up to help keep things running smoothly and to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Of course, I keep a couple of copies on me and Zach keeps me on track by putting it in his smart watch. Either way, knowing what our next steps are through out the day helps us budget our time and keep things moving.
When creating a timeline, it’s important to add in plenty of “fluff” time as I call it, to make sure that if something runs over during another part of the day, we have plenty of time to make up for it later. Things such as receiving lines, travel between venues and even getting dressed can run over so it’s important to consider doing this to avoid feeling rushed later. And speaking of feeling rushed, be sure to schedule some time to just relax! Taking a few minutes to yourself on your wedding day to rest your mind (and your cheeks, which are probabaly sore from smiling for photos) will make you feel so much better!
As for those dreamy bride and groom photos, there are several little tricks to planning for just the right time and place for these images! Finding the right location plays a big part in this and brings several things to consider to mind – do you plan to have these photos taken at your venue, or will you be traveling to a more meaningful or photogenic location? (This IS possible and can lead to some really incredible wedding photos!) What time of day will the photos be taking place? I usually recommend doing these photos an hour or so before sunset in order to capitalize on the most beautiful light of the day.
There are many elements that go into each wedding scenario, so sitting down with an experienced planner, photographer or other vendor to discuss your ideas and wishes for your day can really go a long way! To get you started, I have put together a free template to give you an idea on how to create your wedding day timeline! I’ve included two breakdowns, one with a first look prior to your ceremony and one with out. I’ll be writing another blog post about first looks down the road, but for now let’s get that timeline taken care of!
Venue: Laurel Hall⠀
Planners: Michelle Rakotomalala + Katherine Walton⠀
Cake: Taylor Made Cakery⠀
Food: LuAnn Garmany⠀
Rentals: A. Classic Party Rental⠀
Stationary: Jian Loh⠀
Bridal Dress: Blue House Bridal⠀
Bridesmaid Dress: Bella Bridesmaids⠀
Makeup: Moriah Justin⠀
Hair: Allison Linnear⠀
About the author: Alison is an Indianapolis based wedding photographer who loves working with joyful couples, celebrating timeless love and helping other small businesses grow.