Ahhh the dreaded timeline! It can be the most stressful part of wedding planning but with the right guidance from your vendors it really can be an easy process. Wedding days go by in a flash and having a basic outline will prevent as much chaos as possible.
Below are my 5 tips to planning the perfect timeline and 2 examples of timelines one with the first look (preferred) and without a first look. These are only examples of the photography part of the wedding day and based on an 8 hour coverage package.
Do a first look! I have written a whole article about why I love the first look and why it saves time and stress doing the wedding day. Doing the first look allows you to get the majority of formal photos with the bridal party and family out of the way before the ceremony and allows the Bride and Groom more time for their portraits and time to join the cocktail hour to spend more time with guests. It is becoming a welcoming new tradition with weddings and I promise you won't regret doing it!
Plan your hair and makeup to be done by the time your photographer gets there. This is more important if you are doing a first look but hair and makeup can take a lot longer than you think. I would say 9 times out of 10 when a wedding is running behind is because of this issue. Having it done or almost done before the photographer arrives will considerably keep things running smooth and on time.
Give yourself buffer times. Weddings hardly ever run on time. You think you have enough time for everything but things happen, Makeup takes longer than expected, traffic, somebody forgets something somewhere, weather, etc. It's just a normal thing to have gliches that eat up time. so give a 15 minute buffer to the activities and that will elevate any stress when something goes wrong.
Put together a shot list. I don't mean a shot list like Bride's shoes, rings, dress, etc.. After 13 years I have an internal shot list of all the details and wedding activities. I mean a family shot list. I won't know everyone at the wedding so having family names that you want in the family formals will save so much time. I keep the family formals simple. We do immediate family during the formal time Parents, Grandparents and siblings. Extended family we do during the reception usually while greeting your guests at their tables. I also like to do big family group shots during the reception where I have the DJ announce each side to meet either outside or on the dance floor for a big family shot.
Another tip for formals is telling the bridal party that they are to stay in the photo area until dismissed by the photographer. I can't tell you how much time is wasted tracking down Groomsmen that have wandered to the bar.
Don't hold the timeline so tight that it is written in stone. Let it be fluid and on your wedding day don't let it stress you out if it doesn't run exactly as planned. Like married life there will be bumps in the road but in the end you are marrying your best friend and at the end of the day that will be what matters most!