One of the things that sets me apart from other wedding photographers is that I’m a recent newlywed myself. We couldn’t afford a wedding coordinator with years of planning experience under her belt, so I planned our Hawaii destination wedding aaaaaall from scratch while we lived in London. I remember thinking: I’ve never been married before; how am I supposed to know how to do any of this stuff??
I remember one of the biggest unknowns was the wedding day timeline. I just straight up did not know how to organize the day. I hadn’t even been to any weddings in my adult life, so I was really working with no experience. Now, the wedding’s behind me and I can look back and say that my timeline worked out and I learned a ton about wedding planning in the process. Luckily, I’m here to share my experiences with you :)
If you’re doing all the planning yourself or just want an example timeline to share with your wedding coordinator, take a look at my actual timeline here…
|FRIDAY, May 30, 2014||WEDDING DAY SCHEDULE|
|7:00 AM||Wake up|
|7:30 AM||Pack up all wedding decorations|
|10:00 AM||Venue set up begins|
|10:30 AM||Cake delivered to venue|
|12:00 PM||Bridesmaids start getting ready|
|3:00 PM||Photographer and videographer arrive|
|3:00-3:30 PM||Bride/Groom getting ready shots|
|3:30-3:45 PM||Travel to venue|
|4:00-4:45 PM||First look, family photos, wedding party photos|
|4:45-5:00 PM||Relax / Cushion time|
|5:30-6:00 PM||Bride & Groom portraits, Guests have cocktails/snacks|
|6:00-6:15 PM||Couple’s grand entrance to reception|
|6:15 PM||Bride & Groom’s first dance|
|6:20 PM||Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dance|
|6:30 PM||Toasts and dinner begins|
|7:00 PM||Cake cutting|
|7:15 AM||Bouquet toss|
|7:30 PM||Dance party!|
|8:00 PM||Videographer leaves|
|9:00 PM||Photographer leaves|
|9:30 PM||Last song|
|9:45 PM||Party ends, Couple’s grand exit|
|11:00 PM||Clean up ends, check-out of venue|
In hindsight, there’s just one major thing I would do differently: More time for photography! You’ll notice that we only had a half hour for bride/groom portraits, and we crammed the first look, family portraits, and wedding party portraits all into one 45 minute window. Ouch. I wish that my photographer had asked for more time because, on the day of, it felt a little rushed. With my experience in mind, here are a few more tips…
Tips for Prioritizing Photography on Your Wedding Day
- Include the sunset on your timeline. This one is crucial for your photography. I happen to love gorgeous golden light and dreamy backlit shots, and if you do too, time your portraits correctly. You can check the exact time the sun will set on any day here.
- Arrange your day with light in mind. To add to the sunset point, if you love soft-lit photos like I do, don’t plan a brunch wedding with bride and groom portraits at high noon. Harsh light and strong shadows are not the best for romantic wedding photography. Also be aware of fading light in general! Once the sun’s down, events will have to be lit with artificial lighting which also may not be the most flattering.
- Include enough time for each portrait session. Trying to wrangle 50 strangers together for a group photo is no easy task, but doing it all in, like, 6 minutes is impossible. Be kind to your photographer and provide the best tools for them to do their job: Designate a solid chunk of time to each portrait type — at least 30 minutes for family portraits, 30 minutes for wedding party portraits, and 60 minutes for bride/groom portraits.
- Send a timeline to all the vendors. Be sure to send a timeline to all of your vendors about a week before your wedding to make sure everyone’s on the same page. It also helps to include a third column with addresses of each location (e.g. the getting-ready spot, reception venue, etc). A well prepared vendor is a successful vendor!
I hope seeing my wedding timeline gives you a better idea of how your wedding day should be structured. Happy planning!
P.S. You can see the photos and video of my wedding for a visual look at how the day transpired. And as always, if you’re planning a Hawaii destination wedding and you’re looking for a photographer, let’s talk :)