One of the most important aspects of your wedding day is ensuring that it runs on time. You need to first know what to expect for your wedding day before you can plan for it, so I've mapped out both sides of the topic below...
WHAT TO EXPECT:
Know ahead of time that everything moves in slow motion on your wedding day - especially you (the bride)! If it normally takes you 10 seconds to walk down a staircase, it will take you 2 minutes to walk down the same staircase in your wedding gown. Every single thing will move in slow motion on your wedding day, and that is A-Okay...as long as you know to expect it!
Unexpected things happen and people run late. Go ahead and practice saying that aloud: "Unexpected things happen and people run late." Aunt Belle and Uncle Ezra's car got a flat tire a mile down the road, and we can't take photos without them. The Best Man is nowhere to be found. One of your bridesmaids just called and said she'll be there 25 minutes late. It is time to walk down the isle and your Maid of Honor just realized the Groom's ring was left on the counter at the Getting Ready location. The heel falls off your shoe. The 0% chance of precipitation sky produces a sudden torrential downpour. All of these things are extremely normal for a wedding day, and most have happened during weddings I have covered.
HOW TO PLAN:
So, what good is knowing what to expect if you do not use that information to plan? Below are some actual tips to implement into your planning process to ensure your wedding day remains as unaffected as possible when these things occur.
My most important piece of advice is to trust me with your timeline recommendation. One of the most valuable things I provide my brides with, other than their actual wedding day photos, is a timeline recommendation structured and crafted in a way that takes into consideration a host of factors that are specific to their wedding day: the amount of coverage hours they have selected, what photos are most important to the Bride and Groom, their ceremony and reception locations, the time of day for optimal lighting at their location, the size of their Bridal party, the size of both the Bride and Groom's families, whether or not they have opted for a "first look", the kind of gown the Bride has selected and how quickly she can walk in it, how long the Bride and Groom want their reception to last, the historical temperatures for their wedding day, available shade, the Groom's temperament for photos at the engagement session, etc. Needless to say, you can see a LOT goes into customizing each timeline!! I build in a bit of extra time at the same intervals where most other weddings have lagged in order to compensate for the unexpected. I am always happy to make a recommendation on which collection is best for your specific wedding day. For a regular wedding day, I would recommend coverage hours of no less than 6 hours, with 8 hours being an optimal amount of coverage hours. Extremely small and intimate weddings without a lengthy reception can get away with 4-5 hours of coverage, but I would never recommend less than 6 hours for a traditional wedding day.
One of the most helpful things a bride can do to start her day off with ease is to have all of her Bridal items lying out together for when I arrive. I will photograph these items by themselves before getting started on anything else, and it helps if I do not have to interrupt your hair/makeup to ask for these items. Some items to consider including in these photos: wedding dress, Bridal shoes, engagement ring and wedding band, earrings and any other jewelry, handkerchief, garter, wedding invitation suite (your wedding invite & its corresponding paper goods), ceremony program, veil, birdcage, lipstick, perfume, sentimental items, etc. You can ask your Groom to do the same with cufflinks, bowtie, cologne, wedding band, watch, shoes, socks, etc.
Create custom "schedules" for all who are to be photographed on your wedding day and pass them out on the night of your wedding rehearsal. Make sure it is extremely clear to everyone WHEN they need to be WHERE. Give everyone a very specific location. Do not just list your venue as the location; list the specific location at the venue where you would like them to convene.
Stress to your groom and his groomsmen, your bridesmaids, parents of your ring bearers and flower girls and both of your families ahead of time how important it is for everyone to be early. More than anything, I want your wedding day to be smooth sailing the entire time, with little to no stress involved. While passing out the photo schedules, politely ask all of those involved in your day to arrive at least half an hour earlier than their scheduled photo time.
One of the, dare I say "more popular", times of the day when the schedule goes haywire is right before Bridal Party photos...when everyone thinks they are all ready for photos, but no boutonnières are on any groomsmen and the bridesmaids do not yet have their bouquets. I call it the "Boupocalypse." This is the time of day when everyone frantically runs around...groomsmen hold their boutonnières with not a clue how to put them on or which side to put them on, and bridesmaids haphazardly pull their bouquets out of water jars, sloshing water all over their bridesmaid dresses because they didn't realize how wet the stems were. To avoid the "Boupocalypse", you'll need to assign a dedicated person to pin on all boutonnières and dry off/pass out all bouquets by a certain hour. Make sure this person knows how and where to pin!
Have someone assigned to, not only direct the ceremony portion of your day, but also to keep you on schedule during your reception with the first dances, cake cutting, bouquet and garter toss, etc.
Communicate with your vendors on their timeline. When will the florist have the reception area completely decorated? What time will the band set up/break down? How long does the preacher expect the ceremony to last? Ask the questions and communicate your specific needs to each vendor.
Commit to smiling. This is one of the most important and memorable days of your life, and no matter what happens during your day, it is still going to be just as special to you! Choose ahead of time to embrace your day come rain or shine, come hot or cold temperatures, come late or early bridesmaids :) We will still capture photos of your day, and - in the end - you will love them, no matter what happened behind the scenes (or even in front of the scenes)!
By being educated on this topic and by having a plan in place to prevent some of the most common scheduling mishaps, you can relax and focus on soaking up all of the amazing moments throughout your wedding day!!
As always, if you have any questions, send them my way! Here's to having the most stress-free and punctual wedding day of all time!