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Okay, I’ll admit, this isn’t the most exciting topic I could ever write about. Still, I am writing because I think it is a topic that is often a source of stress or confusion for couples. Ideally, this is the first and only time a bride and groom will ever have to plan a wedding or an event of this size with lots of moving parts. If you are a bride, you are likely not an expert wedding planner! Well lucky for you, we have been through a wedding or two. 🙂 These are some of the lessons I have learned from my time as a Wedding photographer serving Southern Indiana and Louisville.
I know…schedules are not fun. Trust me, I hate when Alex tries to plan out our vacations or schedule out our weekend. I like to be spontaneous. Don’t box me in, I want freedom, baby! However, your wedding day is one of the only times I would insist on some sort of schedule. It’s not to make you feel stuck, but allows time for EVERYTHING you want to do on your wedding day! Something I’ve learned is that, if it’s not scheduled, it probably won’t happen. So if you want some down time before all of the craziness begins…make sure you schedule yourself some alone time. If you want to spend time in prayer with your wedding party before you walk down the aisle, put it on the schedule. If you think it would be awesome to be alone with your groom right after you say “I do!” schedule it! Otherwise, you will forget to make time for these really special moments throughout the day.
I have a timeline template that I provide for our couples. It’s basically a nerdy spreadsheet with the wedding day itinerary including the who, what, where, and when. If nothing else, it will help you think through logistics that can easily be forgotten. For example: how is the wedding party getting to the venue? or are the flowers being delivered before bridesmaids photos begin? They should be! Our template also includes “Important Places” (addresses for the salon, hotel, ceremony site, reception venue, etc.) and “Important People’ (Names and phone numbers for every possible vendor) so that no one will need to ask the bride or groom! Basically you want to answer every possible question your wedding party and family might have, BEFORE they ever have to ask it!
Most of our couples tell us that the absolute most important photos of the day are the ones of the bride and groom together. Yet, when I see the timeline they’ve created they are squeezing in these important portraits between the post ceremony family photos and the reception with a 15 minutes time frame. If you are feeling anxious and rushed, it is difficult for us to create authentic and romantic portraits. If you want beautiful, honest, relaxed photos of you and your new spouse, make sure you allow up to 45 minutes for this. It will give you time to breathe and be in the moment.
Have a timeline, but don’t be married to it. Allow time for transitions, travel, a groomsman that arrives late, and for the bridesmaid dress with a broken zipper. You are likely to have some unexpected events set you back, but if you have added some cushion into your timeline this won’t be a big deal at all! I would even consider the amount of time it will take to walk from one photo location to the next with 10 bridesmaids in heels! As you create your wedding day timeline over estimate the time that each item will take and you’ll be glad you had the extra space for the unexpected mishaps!
This is especially important for late fall and winter weddings. I meet with couples that are set on an evening ceremony in the winter, but they are also set on not seeing each other before the ceremony. Ummm… well you see, mother nature might have something to say about that! If you wait until after the ceremony for all photos with the bride and groom together, you will for sure be taking those photos with artificial light because the sun will be long gone. If you fell in love with your photographer because of their gorgeous naturally lit or golden sunset photos, you won’t get those photos without at least a first look, or an earlier ceremony time. If you are set on not seeing each other AND an evening ceremony, make sure you choose a photographer that has lighting equipment and ask to see some of their artificially lit portraits!
A timeline is useless if you don’t share it, and if you don’t have someone on hand to manage it! Keep your family, friends, vendors, and wedding party informed by sharing the timeline in advance. I have even had brides print it and pass it out at the rehearsal dinner again so the forgetful sister can’t say she didn’t know where to be when! I’ve also noticed that the smoothest wedding days occur when the bride has asked someone to manage the timeline. This is a trusted and assertive family friend or wedding coordinator. Someone that can kindly keep things moving in the right direction. This person is likely to anticipate problems and get them resolved before anyone else is the wiser. The best part is that the burden no longer falls on YOU to keep the schedule, so you get to focus on having fun and enjoying your day!
What tips do you have? Use the comments to let us know what tips you think should be added to this list! Were you a bride that learned from her mistakes? Are you a wedding planner with lots of wedding day wisdom? We want to hear from you, and I’m sure that our future couples will be grateful for the advice!