Having a well-planned wedding day schedule
Today, I was thinking about everything that I need to fit into my wedding day. I’m getting married in June and need to nail down a timeline very soon! So, I thought I would share my own thoughts on the subject, mainly from the point of the photographic main events. There are a lot of things to consider when planning your perfect wedding day but, the attention you dedicate to this step can really help make your wedding day so much less stressful.
First question! Is it bad luck to see the bride before the wedding? My answer, “don’t be silly!” This superstition began in the days of arranged marriages when the bride’s face was actually hidden entirely from the groom until the wedding day for fear that he may not like what he sees and try to get out of it! Many couples still want that sense of excitement however. They want that moment they first see each other on the wedding day to have all the anticipation and thrill that they have imagined all their life.
Before you decide, consider how you and your fiancé are going to be feeling the day of the wedding. There are a lot of nerves and butterflies fluttering everywhere that day! I’ve even heard of grooms being so nervous about getting up in front of everyone that they’ve actually had a stage fright moment, and have thrown up. If this is you, you will probably most definitely want to see your soon to be better half before the wedding starts! Many times, couples find that it relaxes each other. They feel like they’re “in this together.”
There’s also something to be said about getting to share the entire day together. My personal thought is, for my wedding day, I’m going to spend the maximum amount of time with my fiancé. It’s our day, and I want to share the whole thing with him… not just the last half.
This is my preference as a photographer as well… Here’s why…
When couples want to see each other before the wedding, we do what we call a first sight. Both the bride and groom get ready on their own, not seeing one another all morning. When everyone is ready, we head to a beautiful location, with the bridal party and family following shortly behind. We position the groom so that he cannot see his beautiful bride until she either taps him on the shoulder or is told he can turn around and watch her walk towards him. I love this moment! The bride and groom get to have a tender more memorable moment together, without all the people in the church and nerves to accompany being in front of 100+ guests. The groom’s face lights up, smiling at each other they hug, the groom whispers how beautiful she looks, followed by a kiss. It’s a private moment, save the photographers snapping pictures, that they wouldn’t get to share any other way.
After a few moments alone, we spend a little time on some bride and groom portraits. Once those have been done, the family and bridal party are ready to go. Everyone is freshly done up. The makeup hasn’t smeared or wore off, the bouquets are still new, and no one’s hair has fallen. After the wedding, especially in the summer, everyone will not look as great as they look earlier in the day.
The final benefit is that the hard stuff is out of the way before the ceremony ever starts! The guests won’t be waiting for two to three hours after the wedding for the reception to start while you’re getting all the family and bridal portraits taken either. It makes for a much smoother day all together.
Whatever you decide, make sure to discuss it with your fiancé many weeks prior to the wedding. Last minute decisions on the timeline will make your wedding day more stressful, for you and your photographers.
I have made an example timeline in excel, that you may edit to fit your own wedding. Nothing fancy but, I hope this will give you a good start on what to think about and how much time everything usually takes. Many couples grossly underestimate how much time their family pictures, bridal party shots and so on actually take. In addition, don’t forget travel time; I made sure to include that in the spreadsheet. When trying to figure everything out, start with what time sunset is and fill out the sunset bride and groom shots, #13, an hour before sunset. From there, you can do the math and get a good idea of when everything needs to start and end.
Around summer solstice, when we have our longest days and sunset doesn’t occur till 9:30, you’ll just have to use your best judgment on times. Your guests don’t want to be eating dinner at 10pm! In the past, brides getting married during this time, tend to have the reception start at 7 or 7:30pm.
I didn’t break down the reception in the spreadsheet, so make sure to consider whether or not you will have a grand entrance where you will have your DJ announce you (your photographer will have to be at the reception site at least 15 minutes to set up before you arrive), which is a great time to drive around and relax before the big party. After the entrance, it usually goes as follows: Dinner, Toasts, Cake Cutting, 1st dances, and bouquet and garter toss. These things you will mostly be discussing with your DJ. Just make sure to share all that info with your photographer as soon as you’ve ironed out the details.
As you can see from the timelines, the traditional option of not seeing the bride before the wedding requires that the wedding start much earlier in the day. If you’re having an outdoor ceremony, I highly recommend going with the first site schedule. From noon to 2 or 3pm are the worst times for outdoor photography, unless you are in the shade.
Hope this helps get the ball rolling for you as you begin to think about your wedding and about wedding photography!
Highland Illinois Wedding Photography ~ St Louis Wedding Photography ~ Available for travel within North America
~ Rosie Warner Photography ~
~ wedding photography for this post was photographed by Rosie Warner for Courtney Tompson Photography ~