Ok, here’s one of the best-kept secrets of wedding planning – make yourself a comprehensive timeline! Wondering how to create a stress free wedding timeline? I got you.
A wedding timeline is essentially a run sheet, or itinerary, outlining all of the key events of your day – from hair and makeup in the morning to last call at the reception.
Trust me, from that frazzled moment where you can’t find your shoes to worrying about your uncle doing something embarrassing, there are so many moving pieces to a wedding day that make it easy to get stressed, forget where you need to be or miss out on something important!
How to avoid this? Easy – create a detailed timeline in advance that includes timings, key contacts, addresses and any other pertinent info that you and your wedding squad will need for the day. It makes the wedding day run so much smoother and lifts a huge weight off your shoulders.
Here’s everything you need to know about rocking your wedding run sheet!
What Do YOU Want?
The biggest (and sometimes hardest!) question when considering how to plan a wedding photography timeline is: how do you want to spend your wedding? Yep, you and your partner – not your mum, your besties or your nan.
Your wedding day should include anything and everything you love and exclude anything that doesn’t feel like a HELL YES! So, when thinking about what to include in your wedding plan, dig deep and think about how you’d love to spend a perfect day with friends and family.
Go Easy On Yourself
My next top tip is to take it easy! No matter how much careful planning you put into your day, no wedding is perfect and it’s highly likely that something will run late or plans will need to change.
If things don’t go to plan? No problemo! Roll with the punches and embrace the zany, unpredictable chaos that is a wedding – I promise you’ll have an amazing time no matter what and your day definitely isn’t ruined if things go a bit pear-shaped.
What Should Be Included In Your Wedding Timeline?
Knowing how to create a fun wedding timeline is all about organisation, because once you know where you need to be and when, you can let loose, relax and enjoy the day.
Now onto the details – what are the key parts of the wedding that should be in a timeline? If you have a wedding planner, this is something they’ll assist with, but otherwise it’s easy to make one yourself.
While every wedding is different, here are some of the main considerations:
First thing’s first – crack the champagne, because it’s time to round up your crew for hair, makeup and those fun getting ready moments. To plan your getting ready time, start by working backwards from the time you need to be ready, then figure out how long your hair and makeup will take so you can book your hair and makeup artist to arrive at the right time.
As your photographer, I’d love to pop in to take some getting ready shots plus those sweet photos of your rings, accessories or your dress hanging in the morning light. If you and your partner are getting ready in nearby areas, I can take photos in both places.
After getting ready, it’s time for the first look (if you’re doing one) followed by the ceremony itself. An early ceremony can be a great thing, since it means more spare time throughout the rest of the day, plus less waiting around time – which generally means less stress!
Your officiant or celebrant can advise on the length of your ceremony, which is helpful to know so you can plan what comes next!
A biggie to think about for your timeline is travel times. Factor in how long it’ll take to move from one place to the next (i.e. from your hotel suite to the ceremony venue, then from the ceremony venue to the photo location or cocktail reception).
You can include the travel times on your run sheet too, as it’s really useful for everyone involved to know where you are and what you’re doing, especially for large, formal weddings.
I know your relatives are so ready to dive into a cocktail and start the celebrations, but don’t let them wander off after the ceremony! This is generally the best time to take family photos, since everyone is together in one place.
Get them done sooner rather than later, before people take off, but also assign a relative to help round everyone up! It also helps to make a list in advance of which family groupings you want photographed, so we don’t miss anyone.
Oh, and tell your family in advance that you need them to stick around! It can be like herding cats, I know, but I’m here to help! I also promise to get the family shots done as quickly as possible, as I just know your fam are eager to chat with guests, grab a drink or run off to the loo.
It’s party time! Your reception is a time to unwind, kick off your shoes and boogie the night away. But to keep things moving along, it’s great to detail all the timings for the night which your vendors can help you with.
Think about when you’d like each course to be served, speeches, your first dance and when the band or DJ will start and finish. You’ll also need to know when the last call or closing time is at your venue, so you can let guests know ahead of time – especially if you’re arranging for taxis or a shuttle to help guests get from one place to another.
A great idea for your reception is to plan to sneak away for a few minutes during golden hour to take photos – more on this below!
You’ll want to include time for your couples’ portraits in the afternoon or evening, but one of the best times is that hour or so just before sunset, known as golden hour, which gives us that beautiful, soft lighting that’s just perfect for portraiture! Even if the skies are overcast, we can still take such amazing photos at this time of day.
This is when we can take photos of you both together – ideally outdoors – and it also gives you both a quiet moment, away from your guests, to really take stock of everything that’s happening and have a few special moments together. Your day can go by so fast, so really try to be present and enjoy each second of it!
If you have questions on how to plan your wedding photography timeline, I’m glad to help you hammer it out!
Wedding Timeline Template
What might a stress free wedding timeline look like? I’m glad you asked! It can really just be a simple Excel sheet or Word doc, but I’ve put together a basic sample below. However, you can find plenty more wedding timeline examples online on bridal sites, Etsy or via your planner.
- 6:30 am: Bridal party arrives, if not already staying there
- 7:30 am: Hair and makeup artist arrives
- 10 am: Photographer stops in to take getting ready photos
- 11:30 pm: Hair and makeup complete
- 12 pm: Travel to ceremony location for first look
- 1 pm: Ceremony
- 2 pm: Drinks and family photos
- 3 pm: Wedding breakfast
- 5 pm-11pm: Reception
Of course, for each event you’ll want to add more detail, including any key contact details, guidelines or special requirements for each detail of your day. Easy – it’s as simple as that!
Share Your Timeline With Your Key People
Once your wedding timeline is ready, what do you do with it? This is actually a key logistics document, so don’t keep it to yourself! Share it with your wedding vendors, bridal party and other important people, such as your parents or close relatives, who might be giving speeches at certain times or otherwise playing an essential role in the day’s formalities.
That way, everyone knows what’s expected, where to be and when, and who to contact if things are running late. All of your main wedding suppliers including caterers, videographers, florists and makeup artists will be super appreciative of this too, since it makes their lives a lot easier on the day.
Always Allow Longer Than You Think
Even if you’re walking from place to place, know that travelling, in a gown, with a bridal party, is likely to take longer than you might think! So, give yourself a time buffer. There’s always the chance of traffic or delays/sore feet/misplaced phones, so you’ll feel so much more relaxed if you’re not racing from place to place all day.
A stress free wedding timeline is honestly one of the best ways to make your wedding day mega fun and also stress-free, so it’s something all couples should consider – whether your wedding is small or huge.
If you have any questions about making a timeline or how your wedding photography slots into it all, you know where to find me!