If you don't have a wedding planner you've likely ready hundreds of blog posts on wedding day timeline suggestions. Coming from a wedding photographer, here are my tips.
1) Seriously Consider Doing a First Look
First looks are the best way I've seen to get the most out of the short time in a wedding day. We get all the "formal portraits" of the bridal party, family and you and your new spouse done before the ceremony. If you're having a sunset ceremony this is so important as it will be dark after your ceremony! That means no beautiful outdoor pictures that you've been oogling for months. Another reason? Your first time seeing your soon-to-be-spouse is private and so intimate. If your love cries seeing you during a first look, they're likely to still cry when you walk up the aisle. Not only that, but you can enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests, or just alone with your spouse, or taking even more beautiful portraits of just the two of you, (after all these are the pictures most couples frame and put up in their house).
2) Schedule in Downtime
A wedding photographer friend of mine recently got married and after her wedding, I asked her if she sees weddings differently now. Her answer? Absolutely. She doesn't remember most of the day because it rushed by so fast, (and no she wasn't drunk, I asked)! She didn't get to go around and see all the decorations she spent months hand-making and designing, and instead saw them through photographs after the event. My friend also mentioned that she didn't feel like she had enough time to talk to each of her guests . Weddings can be so cram-packed full of activities that you don't even have time to just be there and soak in your wedding day.
3) Budget Enough Time for Portraits
If you do have professional wedding planners to work with in designing your timeline they don't usually have time to reach out to your photographer to find out exactly how much time is needed for various parts of the day. It's always best to consult your photographer when designing your timeline, as everyone works a little differently, but here are my suggestions:
Group & Individual Portraits during Bridal Prep - 30-45 minutes
Group & Individual Portraits during Groom Prep - 15-20 minutes
First Look - 15 minutes
Whole Bridal Party - 15-20 minutes
Group Family Portraits - 20-40 minutes
Bride/Groom Portraits - 30-60 minutes
If your bridal party is larger than 10 people, consider adding a little more time. In addition, don't forget to factor any traveling time for location changes, (maybe you have a specific location in mind for portraits of just the two of you), and if you know one of your bridesmaids is never on time, it's great to factor in a little extra time for her, if possible.
There you have it, my tips for planning your wedding timeline. Grab some coffee, sit down, and knock out a potential timeline! Get it off your to-do list!
Come back next week for a few modeling tips you can practice to make your bridal portraits pop!