Always a great question, and the answer will vary depending on you, your specific wedding plans, and locations chosen. A Friday night wedding may have a different structure than a Saturday all-day extravaganza. Here’s a few ways to help beat the crunch of the wedding day schedule – especially as it pertains to photography – implement these tips to help prevent the wedding day stresses of not being prepared!
Allow more time between things than you think you need
This should be a given, but sadly is one of the biggest stresses brides run into on their day. Not allowing enough time for preparation puts everything else behind. I suggest allowing at least 2 hours for hair and makeup for the bride (add about 45 minutes per bridesmaid if they will also be getting these services), plus travel time. Don’t be reserved here – it is better to be done these things early and have time to hang out and eat something instead of rushing! Once you arrive home, I suggest allowing at least 1.5 hours of prep + photography time. This is usually the point where your photographer shows up to begin capturing details: The dress, the shoes, the rings, flowers, etc. It’s a great idea for the bride to have ALL the rings for the ceremony, so the photographer can get the complete ring shot before the ceremony (and before your fingers swell from nerves) – it’s near impossible sometimes to take rings off once you’ve put them on that day! This is also a great time to capture candids of you and your bridal party, as well as some formal shots with your parents and bridal party. Post ceremony, allow about 30 minutes before being able to leave anywhere for photos. Even if you don’t have a receiving line, happy guests will want to offer you congratulations. If you have a receiving line, add another 20-30 minutes on top of that.
Formal photos. Ah, my favourite part! This is the part where you don’t want to skimp if you can help it – not only does your photographer need time to find various family members and arrange them, but they need time for your wedding party shots and couple’s photos. These are the photos that are going on people’s walls (especially yours) so this is where quality time is needed.
Reception… Usually the entrance is most cruicial here, and some brides want coverage of the speeches and first dance. Depending on how you arrange the schedule of your reception, this may be a short time or go well into the evening.
Have a backup plan
Pretty self explanatory I think, but if you have an outdoor wedding, have a plan (and location) in case of rain. Same goes for formal photos. Every effort will be made on my part to secure an alternate location, but sometimes brides have a better idea of where they would like to go in case of rain. Please be aware that many indoor locations require permits for photography, and these permits are the responsibility of the client. Some easy rain locations for photos are City Hall, the Library (need permission), and a cool looking shopping mall (think SouthWorks in Cambridge for example).
Locate special items the day before
Do you have your something blue? Is your dad going to wear something special from generations ago? Do you have your overnight bag packed and any necessary toiletries for your day ready? Take a few minutes the day before to have these things at your fingertips. If you know where your great-great-Grandma’s brooch is for your bouquet then it saves you trying to locate it that day and getting stressed.
Ensure there is enough time (and at the right time of day) for photography
I know I touched on this earlier, but it really is important. Time of day matters too – if you have an evening ceremony, you may need to consider having a “First Look” of each other prior to the ceremony before the sun goes down. Same goes for formal photos. Some couples prefer to schedule it this way, as all the formal photography is out of the way ahead of time which allows you to relax and just enjoy your day knowing the photos are done. The best time of day for portraits is about 2 hours before sunset (or two hours after Sunrise, if you’re having a morning wedding). I know all schedules can’t line up with the best time of day for portraits, but it is something to keep in mind.
Don’t stress if things don’t go according to plan
Things happen and plans change. A timeline is super helpful (and important) but it’s also not set in stone. If you need to adjust times accordingly on the day of, then do it. Photographers will help to keep you on track, and incorporate flexibility when needed – if you have a wedding planner, they will help with this task also. It may seem redundant to plan for flexibility after I’ve just given you a page and a half on timelines, but it is necessary to allow for unexpected changes on a day like this.
By spending some time prioritizing the important things of your wedding day, you can significantly cut down on your stress level the day of. Everyone wants their wedding day to be perfect, but the reality is not every wedding runs that way! By having a timeline laid out, all key players of your day can have an understanding of their roles and help make your special day super-extra-special :)