If you’re not working with a planner, planning out your wedding timeline probably sounds super stressful and like something you’d prefer to put off for later. In reality, it’s super simple and I’m happy to do it for you if you like! Just ask and I’ll send over my template and you can just make adjustments to ensure it suits your plan for the day. And done! Regardless of what you decide to do, here are some things you should know:
#1: Hair and makeup almost always takes longer than think. Unless you are working with one of my preferred hair and makeup artists (who are favorites for a reason!), this is usually where things get off schedule fast and then the rest of the day ends up behind schedule. And usually, it’s the photography that suffers (the sun does eventually set…). My advice is to plan for 30 minutes of wiggle room so they can make you look perfect without the stress of running behind. And if they do finish on schedule, that’s more time for photos and/or hanging out with your crew!
#2: How much time do you need to set aside for portraits? I recommend 30 minutes for wedding party, 30 minutes for family, and 30 minutes for couple photos.
#3: Do you know what time the sun sets on your wedding day? This is the single most important time for building your timeline as this is the cut-off point for natural light photos. Plan to have everything you want photographed in natural light 100% finished before this time. Portraits are a no-brainer, but some couples also like to have the detail shots of their dining room set-up or wedding cake photographed in natural light too — which will mean coordinating with your venue/planner/florist to make sure things are set up in time.
#4: Speaking of sunset, are you planning an outdoor ceremony? Then you’ll definitely want to make sure your ceremony can be scheduled before it gets dark (unless you want a dark, candlelit vibe, which is also cool). But don’t schedule it too early — the closer you are to noon, the higher the sun will be in the sky, and that means blown-out highlights, harsh shadows, and raccoon eyes everywhere!
#5: When should you schedule your portraits? This is a personal choice — some couples prefer to do a first look and do all their formal portraits before the ceremony. This is highly recommended for couples who don’t want to miss their cocktail hour. However, if you like the idea of seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony, then plan to leave some daylight after your ceremony ends so there’s plenty of time for natural-light portraits before the sun goes down.
#6: Like sunset, the other important time in planning your wedding day is “magic hour” aka “golden hour.” This is the best light of the day and it occurs for the last hour of light before the sun sets. So think carefully about what you want to have photographed in that great light. It can be portraits, it can be your ceremony, or it could be your outdoor cocktail hour. None of those choices are right or wrong, it’s a matter of what’s important to the two of you!