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10 Tips for Planning Out Your Wedding Day Timeline

Figuring out your wedding day timeline can be a REALLY daunting task – when it came to a rough draft for my own wedding I totally froze up – and I help my brides write them all the time!! Once you figure out a few key components, it’s super easy! Like I said, I help all my brides write them because it’s something you’ve never done before & you have NO idea how long things will take!! Here are a few tips to help make your timeline go smoothly.

Elegant styled invitation suite

1. Have all your details together in the morning. This makes everyone’s lives easier – you’re not going to be scrambling trying to find a lost earring or buried pair of shoes. When everything is all together, we can have a smooth transition into the detail shots. If you’re wondering if I have a blog post about what details to have available, of course I do!! Check it out here.

2. Once you have a timeline established, SHARE IT with your families and bridal party. This sounds insanely OCD but hear me out – there will be FAR fewer questions about what time they need to be somewhere, and it will be significantly less stressful for everyone. I sent out a detailed timeline to our families and bridal party and even though some of the groomsmen teased me about it (because obviously all the bridesmaids were just as Type A as me 😂), it was worth it. No one ran behind and since then, I’ve talked to some groomsmen who have been in other weddings that had NO CLUE about timing, and they’ve admitted that it was super helpful to have.

3. Make sure all the bridesmaids and groomsmen are in a designated room to get ready in. I have the bridesmaids get dressed first so there’s a cohesive look when the bride is getting into her dress, but it’s also easier to not have to track down a wayward groomsman who’s drinking at the bar. You laugh – this has happened. Someone also recommended to have a girlfriend who isn’t in the wedding check in on the guys to keep them on track – this is also SUPER helpful!!

Bridal party cheering at couple kissing

4. Tell everyone to be ready earlier than they need to be. Best case scenario, they’re waiting 15 minutes for you before family photos. Worst case scenario, we can’t find an entire family and have to photograph them during cocktail hour. This is extremely helpful if you have a BIG bridal party or family.

5. If you choose to do a first look, assemble the bridal party together away from you – this ensures that they’re all dressed and ready to go for bridal party photos after the first look.

6. If you have grandparents at your wedding (this is such a rarity and when I get to photograph them, I LOVE it), we won’t photograph them until after the ceremony. It’s easier to let them get ready at their own pace and enjoy the morning without worrying about a deadline.

Groom and his grandmother standing in front of mountains

7. One of the reasons that I have my couples list out family members names is so that I can call them out for family portraits – and if you’re a past bride, you’ve definitely seen me yell out everyone’s name multiple times 🤷🏼‍♀️. Believe me when I tell you that saying “Matt” instead of “bride’s brother” is SO much more effective and polite.

8. Most venues will cordon off the reception area until it’s time to let guests in so that it can be photographed without any distractions (ie: purses on tables, jackets on chairs, etc). I always make sure to sneak into the space to capture it all!!

9. If your day is running a little behind, don’t worry – they literally cannot do ANYTHING without you!

10. Set aside a few minutes for snacks!! I’ve seen a lot of venues do this, so it’s always worth checking with your coordinator to see if they can do it. Sometimes they’ll bring you a plate of appetizers while we’re doing photos so you can have a breather and eat something, and sometimes they’ll seclude you during cocktail hour to make sure you eat. You’re going to be STARVING by then!

Natural greenery textured runner centerpiece

Those are my best 10 tips – if you have any, leave them in the comments!!

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HI, I'M caitlin

New Hampshire based wedding and family photographer