Hello my friend! I’m assuming you’re here because you’re engaged, and you’re stressed. I’m going to take a wild guess that you’re not an expert at planning weddings. But it seems like people expect you to be, right?! One of the most stressful tasks of planning a wedding is building a timeline.

When I first started photographing weddings, I had been to ONE wedding before as a guest. Still to this day, I’ve only been a guest at maybe three total. But I’ve photographed over a hundred, and I’ve helped dozens of clients create their wedding timeline from scratch.

I feel like it helps when the photographer has a say in the wedding timeline because photography is such an important aspect of the day. Photography pretty much designates what happens and when. So in my own professional experience, here are three tips for creating a stress-free, photo-friendly timeline for your wedding day!

Google sunset time and understand that the best lighting for photos is 1-2 hours before sunset.

If your ceremony is way before sunset, then you can take a couple of portraits after the ceremony, and the remainder during dinner as the sun is setting. Stepping out of your reception for golden hour portraits is a beautiful way to share a romantic, quiet moment with your husband or wife on your wedding day. Believe it or not, the day goes by so fast that this might be one of the only chances you get to do that. And everyone will still be eating- so they won’t even notice you’ve left!

wedding timeline reception dancing

Include many areas of buffer time… you’re going to need it.

I’ve seen timelines that go right from one thing to the next, without any time blocked off between events to cater to anything falling behind schedule. I would say that 75% of the time, we’re behind schedule. What you want is the opposite. You want to have a chance to breathe, feed yourself, hydrate, and just enjoy your day! I recommend finishing up with all necessary pictures and tasks an hour before the ceremony. Don’t schedule anything into that hour.

wedding timeline first look

Opt for a first look.

I feel so strongly about a first look, not only because they’re a precious moment and one of the only times you’ll get to be alone with your husband or wife on your wedding day, but ALSO because it makes for a KILLERRRR wedding timeline!

When you choose to do a first look with your fiancé, you then have the option to knock out couples portraits, wedding party portraits, AND immediate family formals BEFORE THE CEREMONY EVEN STARTS!!! This is especially helpful for winter weddings when you’re chasing the sun! It’s also so nice that instead of spending an hour after the ceremony taking photos, you can spend maybe 20 minutes, and actually be present at your cocktail hour. Or, you know, use that time to sit alone in the bridal suite and take a breather.

wedding timeline

Don’t sweat the traditions.

Every wedding is different- that’s the beauty of it. Just because it’s tradition, doesn’t mean you have to do it. How many brides still walk down the aisle with their veil covering their face? Your wedding should be more about intention and the bringing together of two people in love- not about a garter toss that nobody wanted to do, or, frankly, watch. These traditions, if you don’t really care about them, only take time from really celebrating your day. This goes for ceremony traditions too! I’ve seen 45-minute ceremonies, and 8-minute ceremonies. So whatever it is that doesn’t serve you- cut it out of your wedding timeline, and add in some more of whatever you want to do!

I hope this helps you, my friend! I am so excited for you- remember to enjoy this season of life while it lasts- you’re not engaged forever!

wedding timeline tips for a stress free day

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