Wedding day starts early and runs at a face-pace all day long, so how does a bride create a wedding line that fits everything in?
Typically the day begins with the prepping for the girls which is everything from hair and make-up to actually getting into the dresses. Questions to ask that effect your timeline is 1. Will this be on-site or off-site? 2. How many girls will be needing these professional services? and 3. How many vendors do you have to provide these services?
If you are “all about the photos” on wedding day, you might want to have your photographer arrive earlier and let them begin to take detail shots like this one above. This can be done while the girls are doing their prepping.
The guys need to prep too, but they only need about 30 minutes and they are good. So this is not a huge factor, other than making sure that they are all accounted for and on-site to begin.
About half of our brides will do some sort of “first look” or “early reveal” whether that is with the groom or sometimes with her father or even with her bridal party. There are many pros and cons to this and a good subject for another blog. This obviously though would be a time factor when creating your timeline.
You will be taking photos of your bridal party. This may happen pre-ceremony for the couples who opt for that “first look” or it tends to happen after the ceremony during that cocktail hour. Again, the size of your bridal party will influence how much time this aspect takes because often there are individual photos taken with each bridesmaid at the side of the bride. You also have family photos to work in as well. Again, the size of your family or the quantity of photos that you want to take will influence your timeline.
Wedding day is all about the ceremony. Some couples weave in many features into the ceremony like singers, readings, foot-washing, sand-pouring, even communion. Some ceremonies are long and some are pretty darn quick. Have it long or have it short – have it your way. Just calculate time-wise for these introcities as well as how much time it requires to process your family members and bridal party down the aisle in your timeline. Your invitations state a ceremony time and that begins the moment the officiant gets into place but not when the bride comes down the aisle.
After the ceremony is typically appetizer/cocktail hour. Offering drinks and nibbles to guests while photos are being done is a great solution to keeping your guests happy while doing photo time. Here at the farm, this hour tends to be a bit different than most venues. Guests can go visit the goats at the fence line or play cornhole. Basically with food and drink, they are pretty well entertained for a bit. With just drinks, try to keep this time to about 30 minutes. By adding some appetizers, it does give you another 20-30 minutes, but understand, guests will be anxious to move inside so don’t push the limits.
Don’t short-change this time though. Doing those romantic photos during this time is a priceless opportunity because a low hanging sun will give those amazing photos that only come with “golden hour” which is the best light of the day.
Guest move in and bride and groom get announced “in” as they claim their seat at the reception. Bride and groom getting announced takes minutes but if you announce your whole bridal party, again you can see where more time should be allotted. Also, don’t forget that you may need to take time prior to being announced to get bustled.
Next comes these things; reception, toasts or speeches, cake cutting, and first dances. Granted, some bride don’t do toasts or first dances, but typically most of these will happen. The question becomes in what order. Late Spring to Mid-Fall when the ceremony times are later in the evening to accommodate the outside temperatures, it is often the smartest option to let your guests eat first. If you are doing toasts or speeches, you can actually begin these at the tail end of dinner before everybody is finished eating. This trick helps your timeline. First dances can be done pre-reception, pre-cutting the cake, after cutting the cake, or even as a kick off to dance time.
Another time-saving trick is to cut the cake right after dinner (or speeches) and then while the caterer is beginning to slice up the cake, let the bride and groom have their first dance – and even have their father/daughter and mother/son dances too. After the dances, the guests can have access to the cake, take a quick break, and dance time can begin.
Another timeline trick that will help you get some of those romantic photos taken or sunset photos, is to dart out for a few minutes right after the bride and groom eat. They will obviously eat first, so while the rest of your guests are waiting to head to the buffet line, a bride and groom can get a few photos done without your guests noticing much less without your guests being inconvenienced.
Dance time is what it is. It is almost what left over time allows. The other factors to include is your “send-off” time and how much time do you need to pack up and vacate the venue. If you (you, your family, or a hired decorator) handled your own decorating, you will need more time to vacate all of these items along with your left over drinks, your personal items, and your gifts, etc.
All of these features just take time. This is not a good or bad thing, but just reality. Some of these can be streamlined but some should just be what they are. Here is a typical timeline for a wedding that doesn’t do the first look.
Noon-4:30 – Prepping of bride & groom and their bridal party
Detail Shots by the Photographer
5 PM Procession Begins – Ceremony
5:45-6:30 Cocktail – Appetizers – Corn Hole – Visit the Goats
Family Photos First
Bridal Party Photos
Romantic Photos around the venue
6:30 Guest Move Inside to Claim a Seat
6:45 Bride and Groom Announced
6:55 Quick Welcome or Prayer
7:00 Reception Begins
7:45 Tail end of Dinner – Begin Speeches
8:00 Cut the Cake
8:15 First Dances
8:30 Cake Available
Guest Take a Short Break
Sunset Photos for Bride and Groom
9:00 Dancing Begins
10:45 Sparkler Send Off
11:00 Guests Begin to Leave
11:30 Full and Complete Exit of all Guest and Vendors
After that, the timeline for the rest of the evening is up to you!