creating a timeline

For those who have planned a wedding or are currently planning a wedding understand when I say, it is hard work. So many factors go into creating the perfect wedding day … time to take photos, family members knowing where to be and in what outfit, flowers, bridal party, hair, make-up, ceremony time, transportation … making sure your guests are happy and have food and drinks to keep them happy while they wait. Sometimes it gets to the point where you have to remind yourself what a wedding day is suppose to be about! Marrying your best friend and love of your life in front of family, friends, and most importantly making a huge commitment to that person alongside God. PHEW. That exhausted me just thinking about it. But on that same note, it is so fun and especially if you love to plan events! This is the MOTHER of all events and the one day its all about YOU. The Bride. Trust me it rocks. So I figured … and after being inspired by other photographers that help out, why not help my brides and other fellow brides in creating a schedule considering all these important factors.

Its crazy to see how far weddings have come and how much they’ve changed in such a short period of time. A little over 5 years ago I was planning my wedding. [where has time gone!?] and even though that isn’t that far away, things have changed so much. Photography is continuing to grow along with the creative outlets you can use to plan your wedding. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that we’re finally stepping out of the box and not planning these cookie cutter weddings anymore. Its about time. But looking back, when you’re young or not that ‘girl’ that dreamed about her wedding day every night, all this can come and totally overwhelm us. I didn’t even know where to begin when planning mine, oh how much i’ve changed haha. So hopefully this helps. I’ll try to shorten this up as much as possible but hoping it helps you ladies out there planning your day.

 

centerpieces from jessica + jason’s wedding

Every photographer works differently and I highly recommend working closely with yours. Timing is everything and a photographer needs time to capture the day. So many people give their photographers 15 minutes to do portraits of them and that just isn’t enough time. Unless you don’t care about having creative photographs. Photography is an art and sometimes we have to step back and take it all in … the venue, lighting, personalities,  … so many factors into how we set up the photographs. And to capture those REAL moments. What happens when you don’t have a good schedule? We + You + Groom get stressed. And no one wants that on their wedding day. After all that hard work of planning and getting everything together, your wedding day should be laid back and fully enjoy the day. Not stressed. If a photographer isn’t given enough time to be creative and relax then you often times won’t get those REAL photos and the documenting of the day. Not to mention, if you’re stressed or upset, that shows in photographs! THIS IS A HAPPY DAY! You should look back on your wedding day and smile ear to ear because of how fun it was.

 

candid moment of jaelene dancing with her niece from jaelene + brian’s wedding

Don’t get me wrong, we can take lots of photos in 15 minutes but I think the stress factor comes into play when you’re cramming too much into not enough time and also I want my bride and grooms to walk away with an abundance amount of great photographs that they can cherish forever. Everything takes TIME and that is exactly what produces great photographs, TIME. Okay, have I pushed that enough?? Sorry, just can’t say it enough how important it is. Think of any artist, they can’t complete a master piece in 15 minutes.

I would love to keep referring back to my wedding day because well, that is where I can relate as a bride but things have changed. Matthew and I did opt for the FIRST LOOK and even 5 years ago, that was such a smart choice. After shooting over forty weddings, I can honestly say … it goes so much smoother when bride and grooms choose to go with the first look. Its nontraditional, I know … but hear me out. And I’m being honest, It does not take away from you walking down the aisle. At all. You and your groom will still get that feeling rush through you that ‘holy crap i’m getting married’ and all the people starring at you while you walk down the aisle on your daddy’s arm. Nothing can take that feeling away. Seeing eachother before is nontraditional but look at the way photographs have evolved. What do your parents photographs look like?? Do you want those? I mean sorry Mom, but I’m not really hoping to have ones of me in the front of the church with my dress sprawled out and my sleeves poofed up. I think she understands. Which brings up another note, you have to make sure you explain to your family what you are wanting out of your wedding day and photographs. Communicate with them so they know. Even if they aren’t that involved in the planning of the wedding, on the day of, they try to help and make decisions for you because they don’t want you to be stressed but really you have already decided and hopefully communicated with your photographer, they are just out of the loop. Again, back to the first look. Do what is most important to you, but understand if you opt to wait … your timeline and photographs will show it. You may not get as much time and be a bit more rushed after the wedding because the only things you can get done before the ceremony would be the bridesmaids and groomsmen portraits. Everything else you two need to be together in. Like I said, we did the first look and it was so nice to have that time with Matthew ALONE and not have so many eyes on us as we talked about our morning and how excited we were. We actually got to spend TIME together on our wedding day and I got to ask him what he thought of my dress :) was it was you thought it would look like? i’m so excited to marry you! i can’t believe its our wedding day! I still remember that intimate conversation with him and it makes me smile. And don’t worry, they still get teary eyed when you’re walking down the aisle ;)

 

dan + sarah love coffee so they even made some time for some starbucks and spent some time talking about their morning

Its about YOU and your groom! Its your day! As a photographer, I know you pay me money to document the day and trust me. So I make sure to do everything I can to make sure the day goes smoothly and you are relaxed and at the end of the day … have amazing photographs to look back on for the rest of your life and also had a GREAT day. I want to give you my absolute BEST and thats why I am very involved with the planning of the timeline. I make sure to talk about this and how I am very involved from the start and most brides appreciate that but if not, then we may not be the best fit. I really put my whole heart into this job and without a well planned timeline, we may not be able to give you our absolute best if the time isn’t allowed to do so.

Here is a suggested timeline for your wedding day. [I am by no means saying this works for every photographer, let them help you and make adjustments if need be, this is just works for US when we shoot] ALSO … keep in mind lighting and daylight savings! Spring/Fall/Winter weddings often run into that and adjustments will have to be made. I went off of a 4pm Ceremony time and I would say Michigan weddings are usually 3pm, 4pm, 5pm sometimes 6pm on Fridays.

8:00 am – Bride and Bridesmaids start hair (depending on the amount of bridesmaids and hair stylists)
10:25 am – Bride Starts Make-up
11:00 am – Everyone done with Hair and Make-up
11:30 am – Arrive at Church from salon, eat lunch, bathroom, clean up room
12:00 pm – Bride puts Dress on
12:30 pm – First Look
12:45 pm – Bride + Groom + Photographers Leave for on location portrait session
1:00 pm – Bride + Groom Portraits
2:00 pm – Bridal Party Photos
2:45 pm – Family Photos
3:30 pm – Tuck away bridal party
4:00 pm – Ceremony
4:40 pm – Bride + Groom Usher guests out
5:00 pm – Guests send off the Bride + Groom
5:30 pm – Cocktail hour starts and CELEBRATE!

* as far as the reception goes, there are so many ways you can set up your timeline for the evening but I would definitely recommend to get the important things done as quickly as possible. People start to disappear (outside or what not) and you don’t want to drag on the night. Some older people love to watch the first dance but can’t wait until 10pm to do so. And unless you want a ton of extra cake to take home, or waste it … cut the cake right after dinner or even before. I’ve found that more people eat it right after dinner. ;) Just a thought.

I’m hoping this blog post helped someone out there! Once my new blog is up (yes I swear this is going to happen eventually) I would love to share more posts like this. To help make the day go as smooth as possible for everyone. Please let me know if this helped you! I would love to hear some feedback! Leave a comment! I had to share a photo from my last wedding I shot. The timeline was perfect and we weren’t rushed at all, which is nice because I had to warm my fingers up here and there with this Michigan winter weather! Such a beautiful day though, can’t wait to blog this wedding! Happy Monday!

xo

Leah

  1. Jaclyn 2/27/12 4:48 PM

    I was seriously stressing about this exact thing. We also have to set up our reception site MORNING OF. : ( But thanks so much for posting this timeline- I’ll definitely be using this!

  2. Stephanie 2/27/12 4:48 PM

    Love this! You know I love to be organized ;) very informative!

  3. lindsay 2/27/12 5:47 PM

    Leah! This is AMAZING! You are seriously a rockin person! I strive to be even 1/4 of the photographer you are! Awesome!

  4. Laine Girard 2/27/12 10:48 PM

    Hey Leah,

    My name is Laine Girard and am 20 year old student at GVSU. First things first awesome blog!

    I have a question and wanted to know if you could help me out.
    I am trying to get my photography career rolling but I am having a hard time getting clients because I have very little experience. It is quite discouraging. I am almost at the point to where I am thinking about doing a wedding or an event free of charge just so I can get the experience under my belt.

    If you don’t mind my asking… What is the best way to start off?

    Your fellow photography girl,

    Laine Girard