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5 Tips for a Stress-Free Wedding Timeline

You’re investing a lot of time and money into planning your wedding; you want to make sure you’re able to enjoy your day as much as possible. 

After capturing weddings for years, I’ve seen the difference an organized, well-thought-out timeline can make on your wedding day. Crafting an intentional timeline can mean the difference between feeling like ‘You blinked, and it was over’ and “Every moment was perfect and what you imagined.’ 

Here are a few of the top tips I offer to my couples when they book with me, and we decide on their timeline. 

1. Work Backwards 

Before I start discussing a timeline with my couples, I always like to ask them what is most important to them on their wedding day and what matters most. Some couples are very religious, and having a full catholic ceremony in their family church is a big deal to them. Other couples might care more about enjoying their cocktail hour and reception with all of their guests. Whatever is most important to you, make sure you set aside enough time to enjoy that fully. For example, if you’re one of those couples who wants to enjoy their cocktail hour, you’ll need to be sure not to schedule formal portraits during this time. 

2. You Only Have so Much Time

When sitting down and talking about your timeline, keep in mind that you only have so many hours on your wedding day. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to include everything on your wedding day when the FOMO sets in, but you might enjoy your day if you spend more time doing less. 

Think about your reception. After dinner, parent dances, and cake cutting, you might only have 2-3 hours of open dance floor. If you try to include all the reception traditions (going around to every table, the anniversary dance, bouquet toss, garter toss, the dollar dance, the shoe game, etc.), they will cut into your reception time. It can start to feel like you have a list of things you need to do rather than enjoy the fun moments of your reception. 

3. Tie Up The Loose Ends

Make sure your vendors (DJ’s, Coordinators, Venue Contact, Photographer, etc.) have all the information they need before your wedding. I’ve seen this happen a few times in past weddings; I’m in the middle of taking family formal portraits or sunset portraits when a DJ or Coordinator comes out to ask the client either what song they want to be played during their entrance or to mention that someone was excluded on the seating chart. 

Not only does this add unnecessary stress to you on your wedding day, but it also takes away precious time for photos on your wedding day. Based on your timeline, we could have as little as 15-20 minutes for sunset portraits. Discussing a last-minute detail with a vendor could cut drastically into this time, and you lose photos! 

How can you avoid this? Make sure you address any potential loose ends with your vendors at least one week before your wedding date. It might seem like you have so much to do one week before the wedding, but this is a must! Add it to your list to make sure it gets done. If you have a wedding planner make sure people reach out to them with any questions and not you. After all, that’s what they’re there for! Don’t have a planner? Designate a family member or bridesmaid to be your point of contact for any last-minute questions. Give everyone their number and make sure they have their phone on them during the day. 

4. Travel Time

One thing that often gets overlooked when creating a wedding timeline is travel time! If you’re having your first look, ceremony, and reception in one location, you will save on travel time. If not, that’s fine, but you’ll want to take into account travel time. Take into account things like time of day, traffic, possible construction, or other events that could add to your travel time. The more locations you have to go to on your wedding day and the longer the travel time between the locations, the more time you will have to put aside for travel on your wedding day. 

5. Fresh Start

My last tip is probably the best piece of advice I give my brides, so thank you for reading to the end! I tell all of my brides that book with me (repeatedly) that if anything is going to delay your wedding day timeline, it will be the girls getting ready. It’s so easy to lose track of time when you’re getting ready; now multiply that by the 5-10 girls you have getting ready. AHHH! You can do a few things to help make sure getting ready does not delay your day. Add some ‘fluff’ time; adding 20 extra minutes to your timeline will give you a little bit of buffer if things fall behind schedule. Next, you’ll want to make sure you have enough makeup artists and hairstylists to get to everyone in time for them to be ready. Talk with your stylists to get an idea of how long they will need to spend on you and your girls. Having at least more than one stylist will cut your time in half, so it’s always a good idea! Finally, you will want to communicate with your girls and let them know some key times. You should let them know when they will need to be done getting ready when they should be in their dresses, and when they should be packed up and ready to go to the next location. Put your MOH in charge of making sure the rest of your girls are ready. It’s one less thing you need to worry about!

 I hope these tips will help you create the perfect wedding timeline for your day! If you’d like to reach out and see if I have your wedding date available you can head here. 

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I’M  CASEY

FINGER LAKES REGION WEDDING & PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER

Fueled by equal parts caffeine and passion, I spend my days capturing the kinds of images that make you stop, smile and ask time to please slow down. Your story, your love, is beautiful and I can’t wait to capture it in images you will treasure for years to come. 

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