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Want to ensure you have a relaxed wedding day timeline conducive to a celebration, while also making sure that it's structured to get the photos you want?

Having a solid timeline and being prepared are key approaches to helping make that goal a reality. So, we’ve put together our list of our top tips that we’ve personally experienced that help make your wedding day run smoothly!

Leave Plenty of Time for Getting Ready

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All too often, brides underestimate how long hair and makeup will take. There is no easier time to get behind on your timeline than with getting ready, especially when it comes time to getting in your dress. We always recommend creating some buffer time, so that IF you get 10, 15, 30 minutes behind, you know you’re still OK.

For example, if you have an event (first look, formal photographs, etc.) to be at by 1:30pm, and let’s say it’s on the same premises or no more than 15 minutes away, we’ve found that, in most cases, you should aim to be starting to get into your dress by 12:15pm, or even earlier. That way you leave yourself plenty of time to get ahead.

Know That There Will Be at Least One Person Who Is a Timeline Nazi

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Yes, there’s always one, and usually one person that is the first to become worried about your timeline. Identify this valuable person and go over the timeline with them before your wedding day! Talk with them about where the buffers are and how, no matter what, your wedding day is going to be a blast!

Defuse the situation well in advance and enjoy your comfortable timeline!

Have All Your Details Together

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Do you like details? Or maybe a better question—do you have meaningful details that you’d love to be styled and photographed as a keepsake? That’s exactly why we do flat-lay photos.

Flat-lays take a little bit of time to style beautifully, but making sure that you have everything ready to be photographed in a clear and orderly manner is key to ensuring your photographer can style with ease.

In Meaningful Items to Include in Your Flatlay, we suggest keeping your smaller details in a plastic Ziploc or similar bag while your larger details (if any) are kept in a larger bag. The Ziploc can also be gently placed in a small shoe box, and then placed in the larger bag. That way, you’re ready to hand them directly to your photographer when they arrive!

Keep Everyone and Everything Together as Much as Possible

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There’s almost no better way of making more time for photos than keeping your wedding in as few locations as possible. Travel, even if locations are only 10 minutes apart, can really add up when you’re thinking of packing up time, loading into vehicles, unloading, etc. And don’t forget—your photographer(s) and videographer(s) will have to unload and unload as well, taking up some time that could otherwise be used for more coverage.

For some more wisdom on the subject, be sure to check out our Reasons to Have Your Wedding In One Location article!

Consider a First Look

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Now, maybe your not sure about this whole first look thing. That’s ok! We always say, “to each there own.” However, it’s no doubt that it can help your wedding day timeline run more smoothly, which is one of the reasons it has gained so much popularity in the modern day. If you’re still unsure about when you should see your spouse for the first time on your wedding day, be sure to read our article on Pros and Cons of Doing a First Look.

Having a first look is nice for a timeline because you can complete almost if not all your formal photographs before your ceremony. This means that you can get married and then PARTY! It also means that you won’t have to think about your guests waiting for dinner to start while you’re trying to finish up photos.

Split Up Formals

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Even if you’re not doing a first look, you can still split up some of your formals. Not too many people really love standing and smiling at the camera for formal photographs. But, if you split up some of the photographs, you’ll be able to divide and conquer since they won’t be all at once!

When not doing a first look, we often will photograph the groom with his groomsmen and then the bride with her bridesmaid before the ceremony. That way, we only have to do the full wedding party photos after the ceremony. That way you can get to partying quicker!

The same can be done for some family formal combinations. If you’re wanting pictures of just you with your parents, or some other combination that you can do earlier in the day, plan a little time before the ceremony to have those done.

Talk with Your Wedding Photographer and Go Line by Line Through Your Timeline

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We always have what we call a “Timeline Planning Session” with our brides and grooms. That’s a time for us to ensure that we’re both on the same page and that we resonate on how things are going to go your wedding day.

We highly suggest walking through your timeline step-by-step with your photographer to help ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Make Sure You (and Your Photographer) Know Exactly Where You Are Going to Do Photos (And Have a Backup!)

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Having a solid plan for photos such as couples portraits, wedding party photos, and family formal photos is another key for a smooth timeline. Also a great idea: being able to have a “if that spot doesn’t work out” backup location in the case of bad weather or some other unforeseen.

That way, you save lots of time that might otherwise be spent on looking for/debating on where to do photos!

Hire an Experienced Wedding Planner

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A solid wedding planner knows how to, well…plan! They’ve done all sorts of different weddings and they’ve more than likely come up with a solid template that will work for your wedding day.

If you want to see how a planner can help your wedding day be even more memorable, check out our article on Reasons to Hire a Wedding Planner!

Be Sure to Plan for Photo Time of Your Reception Area

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An often overlooked time during your wedding day is having photos of your reception area before all the guests come in. The story goes like this: your ceremony concludes and your guests head on to the cocktail hour area while you have photos taken. By the time you’re done, the guests have rushed the reception area and you don’t get any good photos of it fully set up.

You’ve put some thought into the design and/or you’ve hired a planner that’s made the space fitting for the occasion, so be sure to set aside 10-20 minutes where your photographer(s) can get some photos for you to see!

Plan on Going Out for Golden Hour Photos

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Whether you’re doing couples portraits earlier in the day or not, we always recommend coming back out during the last two hours leading up to sunset. Often, our couples will eat dinner, then when finished, we’ll sneak out while the rest of the guests are finishing. That way, you get amazing light and your guests don’t even notice you’re not at the party!

Thanks for Reading!

We hope that these tips prove to be incredibly helpful to you! If you have any other tips you’d like to share with other planning couples, be sure to comment below!


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