If Pinterest told the story of weddings it would be filled with little planning and lots of perfectly poised moments. But those who are in the midst of wedding planning (and honestly probably the majority of Pinners) know the pains of wedding planning are much more than having a well organized board. And that’s why we are here! We want to help you walk through all your options because really your wedding should be just that – yours.
- Layout the most important events.
Your ceremony starts at _______
your reception starts at ________
and your First Look/ Sunset Portraits / Sparkler Exit /(insert event that is most important to you here) ______
2. Consider vendor needs. Be sure to check with each vendor specifically, but here’s what I’ve experienced:
- Bridal + Bridesmaid Hair & Makeup – 2 hours for the bride + 1.5 hours for bridesmaids.
- Photographer – I prefer to arrive 1.5 hours before the bride is ready, so I can get shots of the ladies getting ready, putting on the dress, and all the details. I also like getting to help with planning the timeline because it allows me to make sure there’s plenty of time for all the important things… and so I can help make sure the day goes s m o o t h l y.
- Flowers – So they can be photographed fresh I usually prefer that flowers are delivered at the latest, at the same time that I arrive, so I can photograph them + the other details.
- Travel – Take the expected travel time and double it – just in case!
- Cake – I prefer for this to be delivered and set up prior to guests entering the reception venue… That way I can photograph it with the other reception details prior to guests wandering through. (Remember that most older guests wont depart till its been cut so be sure to do that sooner than later so no one gets cranky.)
- Food – Be sure to check with your caterer about timing for this. Buffets take longer because everyone has to get through the line, and plated courses can be more scheduled.
- DJ – Let them know your ideal schedule and if they know their stuff, they will ask and make suggestions to help you along the way.
- Venue – Check if there is a cleanup or breakdown time and what the suggest for getting everything cleaned up in a timely manner.
3. Fill in the blanks! This is the h a r d e s t p a r t, but I’m here to help! Here are those same samples from above with the times filled in.
Evening Wedding example: Ceremony starts at 4PM, Reception starts at 6PM, with time set aside for first look & sparkler exit(10pm) photos.
- 10:00am Bridal party arrives and begins getting ready
- 11:00am Bride Makeup
- 12:00pm Bride Hair
- 12:30pm Groom & groomsmen arrive & get ready
- 1:00pm Bride puts on dress & final details
- 1:20pm Groom & groomsmen portraits
- 1:20pm Bride & Bridesmaids portraits
- 1:55pm Groom departs for first look location
- 2:00pm Bride departs for first look location
- 2:05pm First look & couples portraits
- 3:00pm Bridal party portraits
- 3:20pm Bridal party in hiding
- 3:30pm Doors open/Guests begin to arrive/Pre-ceremony music starts
- 4:00pm Invite time
- 4:15pm Ceremony starts (to allow late guests to be seated)
- 4:40pm Ceremony ends
- 4:45pm Cocktail hour starts
- 4:45pm Family portraits
- 5:45pm Move guests into dinner/reception locaiton
- 6:00pm Buffet opens/Dinner served
- 6:30pm Toasts (as soon as everyone has food)
- 7:30pm First dance
- 7:35pm General dancing music starts
- 8:00pm Sunset portraits
- 8:30pm Dessert
- 9:30pm Sparkler Exit
- 10:00pm Guests depart
- 11:00pm Breakdown/Cleanup done
Morning Wedding example: Ceremony starts at 10:30AM, Brunch reception starts at 11:30AM, First look & Family portraits to be held before ceremony so couple can spend time with guests (+bacon)directly after ceremony.
- 6:00am Bridal party arrives and begins getting ready
- 6:00am Bride Makeup
- 7:00am Bride Hair
- 7:30am Groom & groomsmen arrive & get ready
- 8:00am Bride puts on dress & final details
- 8:20am Groom & groomsmen portraits
- 8:20am Bride & Bridesmaids portraits
- 8:55am Groom departs for first look location
- 9:00am Bride departs for first look location
- 9:05am First look & couples portraits
- 9:40am Family portraits
- 10:00am Doors open/Guests begin to arrive/Pre-ceremony music starts
- 10:30am Invite time
- 10:40am Ceremony starts (to allow late guests to be seated)
- 11:00am Ceremony ends
- 11:00am Additional Family & Bridal party portraits
- 11:30am Brunch Starts
- 12:15pm Toasts
- 1:00pm First dance
- 1:30pm Cake cutting/Dessert
- 2:45pm Couple departs
- 3:00pm Guests depart
- 3:00pm Breakdown commences
- 4:00pm All vendors out
Early Afternoon Wedding example: Ceremony starts at 1PM, Reception starts at 3PM, Bridal party & sunset emphasis.
- 10:00am Bridal party arrives and begins getting ready
- 10:00am Bride Makeup
- 9:00am Bride Hair
- 9:30am Groom & groomsmen arrive & get ready
- 10:00am Bride puts on dress & final details
- 10:20am Groom & groomsmen portraits
- 10:20am Bride & Bridesmaids portraits
- 12:30pm Bridal party in hiding
- 12:30pm Doors open/Guests begin to arrive/Pre-ceremony music starts
- 1:00pm Invite time
- 1:15pm Ceremony starts (to allow late guests to be seated)
- 1:35pm Ceremony ends
- 1:45pm Cocktail hour starts
- 1:45pm Family portraits
- 2:15pm Bridal Party Portraits
- 2:45pm Couples portraits
- 3:00pm Buffet opens/Dinner served
- 3:30pm Toasts (as soon as everyone has food)
- 4:30pm First dance
- 4:35pm General dancing music starts
- 5:00pm Cake Cutting/Dessert
- 6:30pm Couple ‘departs’ reception
- 6:45pm Guests depart
- 7:00pm Sunset portraits
- 8:00pm Breakdown/Cleanup done
4. Take note of when and where you’ll need your friends and family bright-faced and ready for pictures and important events. Be sure to send them this information in the week BEFORE your wedding day (and then maybe remind them again the day before) so that you don’t have to stress about who’s where on the big day.
5. You do you! Remember that this is YOUR day. If you don’t want to dance, don’t schedule dancing. If you don’t want to throw a bouquet, don’t. If you want to eat pizza in your wedding dress and have a pool party reception… DO IT! Your timeline should be as unique and FUN as you are so, carve out time for what’s important to you and… you do you!
Truth be told we love our bride’s different schedules almost as much as we love our brides! It’s these different plans and important moments that often show off the uniqueness of each bride and prove weddings are more than just a Pinterest board.