Keys to the Perfect Day – Timeline Top 10

Last week we showed you what a solid timeline looks like.  I’m tellin’ y’all, timelines are essential to a smooth, relaxed, stress free day!  If you are stressing out about how your wedding day runs, or know you are someone who gets a little tense when things don’t run the perfectly..



If you have a large bridal party, hire extra hair and make up team. 

Many hair and makeup artists will actually require you to hire and additional person if you have a large bridal party.  But if they don’t, I suggest hiring another person anyways.  Having one extra person cuts the time in HALF! And that is super valuable to save time on the wedding day.  Plus, if you are the unlucky girl to have to go first, you have to hope your hair will stay perfect for a few hours while everyone else gets theirs done (Bride should be the last to go.  Plan about an hour for hair and 45 min for makeup.. on average).  Hire a second artist and save the time and stress especially if there are more than 4 girls being primped.

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Keep 5-10 minutes between scheduled events

It takes a lot longer to for here to there than you may think and you probably aren’t used to trying to get around in a large dress  Giving yourself a few minutes in between events can slow things down and stop you from feeling rushed.  Also, there can be traffic on your wedding.  Giving that little extra time will help you stay calm and relaxed even if there is a bump in the road (or a huge line of cars).


Have everything nearby.  Getting ready, ceremony, and reception locations close together or in the same place. 

Having everything nearby will cut down on transportation time which can be huge on the wedding day.  And if it’s not on the same property, make sure you have a plan of how you are getting from place to place!  Who is driving, what car, and where are the keys!  Make sure you and everyone involved knows exactly what’s in store.

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Put your details in a box

Have all your details laid out and ready for us to start shooting.  No last minute scrambling, just a box in the corner you can point to without getting out of the makeup chair.  We will talk more about this one next week!


Skip the receiving line 

After the ceremony, everyone will want to come hug and give there congratulations.  That white dress is like a magnet, friends.  Run away with your new husband and give yourselves a second to let it all sink in!  Receiving lines after the ceremony can take around 30 minutes of your cocktail hour time!  Instead, after you eat at your reception, go around and greet your guests as they are finishing their meal.

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Over plan for the time it will take

You decide you want something a little different with your hair, your florist is running late, you can’t find the hooks on your bustle.. We seen all these things eat up a TON of time on a wedding day and cause unnecessary stress.  Give yourself time (especially while getting ready).  Which leads me to….


Learn it ahead of time 

Make sure you know how to do all the little things that might pop up.  Examples.. can your groom tie a bow-tie?  (I found myself watching YouTube tutorials the day of our wedding.  Good thing I had plenty of time scheduled in there..)  Does someone know how to put on the boutonnieres? (We love when the groom’s mom can come in and add on the bout.)  Don’t forget the veil.  (Ask your hair team to stick around to add in your veil if you wanted to take some pictures without it.)  Bring a bridesmaid or your mom to your last fitting so they know exactly how to get you into your dress and exactly how to bustle!!! (Bustles are miracles.. but also time-sucks).

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Plan backwards from sunset

The most gorgeous light will happen about an hour before sunset.  So do your “just married” pictures then.  If sunset is at 7pm, you want to take your portraits around 5:30-6pm.  So family could be from 5-5:30.  So ceremony could be 4:30-5pm… you see how I’m doin’ this?  Use our suggested time frames and work backwards to see when you need to start getting ready.  Then, add on your reception at the end.  (Receptions are typically around 3-4 hours.)


Let family members know about family formals.

Friends, family formals are SO important to us.  If things are running over time we will always make time for family formals.  These are important pictures to have, but this time can also eat up your time in between ceremony and reception.  So, here are some tips to make this go quickly.  1 – Have the word pass around the rehearsal dinner that everyone will need to stay after the ceremony for family formals.  2 – If you are having extended family photos taken, make sure that at least one person from each family knows they need to be there and that they are responsible for getting the rest of their family there.  3 – Have your officiant announce it at the end of the ceremony (after you walk out), or put a short line in the program.  It saves so much time if everyone knows ahead of time where they need to be and when.  Another awesome tip that some of our past brides have used to make their cocktail hour flow perfectly, is to take family formals BEFORE the ceremony.  It’s likely that your full immediately family will be there early anyways, so get family formals taken care of before everyone scatters.  This works best if take just immediate family formals.

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Do a first look

We’ll talk about this later in the series, but it seriously makes a HUGE difference.  You don’t have to cram family portraits, bridal party portraits, and your bride and groom portraits all into a small block of time between the ceremony and reception.  It will spread things out and will make for a WAY more relaxed timeline.  It has SO many positives.. which is why it will need a whole day.. come back to the blog to read about first looks..


30 minutes of “room to breathe”

We talked about this one last time, but the gist is to save 30 minutes before the ceremony where nothing has to be done.  Trust me, it’s a lifesaver on the wedding day.


Any other timeline tips?   Share them in the comments!

we're Michael & Laura


hey friends,

a husband and wife photography team based in Richmond, Virginia (though we LOVE to travel!). We hope you enjoy browsing some of our most recent work, reading our tips and tricks for brides, and taking a little peek into our life.  

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