10 Wedding Day Timeline Mistakes (and how to avoid them)


November 17, 2019

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Truth be told, I attend a lot of weddings. I have favorite moments at every wedding, but I also have moments that make me nervous. The good news is that these tense moments are often entirely avoidable. Here are the top 10 mistakes I see in wedding day timelines, and how we can avoid them: 

  1. Not sharing your timeline with your vendors. 

On your wedding day, your vendors are you’re A-team. They are there to help make your day a dream come true, only they need some help to do so. As soon as you have a finalized timeline, send it out in a group email to all of our vendors. Vendors appreciate knowing the plan and whom they will be working with ahead of time. 

  1. Not planning enough time to get ready.

Like most ladies, I wore more make-up and hair products than usual (by far!) on my wedding day. Extra primping takes extra time, and we also need to factor in time for friends and mothers to get ready as well. Not leaving enough time to get ready can leave you hustling to catch up to your timeline for the rest of the day! I recommend adding more buffer time than you’ll think you’ll need here. Plus, who doesn’t want more time to relax and hear they look beautiful on their wedding day?

  1. Not planning enough time for travel.

Let’s say you’re getting ready 15 minutes from your ceremony site. No sweat, right? Unfortunately, those 15 precious minutes can multiple once you take into account getting everyone to the car/bus/bike, waiting for stoplights, sitting in traffic, and finding parking on the other side. Leaving enough time for travel and not just driving time is vital when making sure you arrive at your wedding ceremony in time.

  1. Not telling your photo/video team that your invitation time is different than the scheduled ceremony time. 

We all have those friends who are always late, and we love them for it… but planning for your friends to be late is not the right way to schedule your wedding day. I once shot a wedding where the vendor timeline said 4:00pm ceremony start time, but the invitation said 3:30pm ceremony start time. By the time I wrapped up the getting ready photos and headed to the ceremony site for detail shots, the ceremony location was already full of people. I made it work but felt like I lost 30 minutes of valuable time.

  1. Not knowing how long your ceremony will last

Most ceremonies range from 20 minutes to an hour. It’s your wedding, so the good news is that you can make the ceremony however long you want it to be. I always encourage couples to be aware of their ceremony length because it helps me plan for the best lighting for photos. For example, if I’m photographing a winter wedding with a long ceremony, I’ll recommend for a couple to do a first look, so we can take photos in natural light before the ceremony and sunset.

  1. Not keeping your family(s) up to date on group photos. 

Group photos can be one of the most hectic times of a wedding. If Uncle Bob isn’t paying attention, he could easily wander off, and we’ll spend 20 minutes trying to track him down. It’s best to communicate with family before the wedding, so they will know when and where they are expected to meet and smile. 

  1. Not planning out your group photos. 

Group photos are on here twice because although families are the best, group photos are usually where most time is wasted on a wedding day. I ask all of my couples to make a list of group photos they want ahead of time, and we designate someone who knows the family to be the group photo point person. The point person helps me find the right people for each photo and is invaluable to a large group.

  1. Not checking in with the venue about photography locations. 

If you have your heart set on taking pictures at a particular location at your wedding venue, it’s smart to check in with your venue beforehand to make sure that the area will be accessible. I love helping couples come up with their dream photo shot list, and I’d be happy to be the one who contacts the venue to make sure your dreamy balcony photo shoot comes to life.         

  1. Not planning enough time for food.

No one likes to be hurried while they eat, and no one especially wants to wait a long time to get to eat. Food comes with feelings. While you’re preparing your timeline, expect to have at least 1 buffet line for every 75 guests, and know that it will take about 45 minutes to get everyone through the line to eat. You can work with your caterers to make sure there will be enough food for everyone, and we can make sure there will be enough time to eat it.

  1. Not taking alone time. 

People always say, “Enjoy your day! It goes by quickly!” and they are right. Make sure you take time to be present with each other and enjoy time just the two of you. There will be time for photos, dancing, and smiling, but remember it’s your first day as husband and wife! Enjoy the moment.

       Bonus #11. Not using your resources while planning your wedding. 

You’re not alone in wedding planning. Your friends, family, and vendors are all here to help. Checking in with your photographer is a great place to start when you prepare your wedding timeline. I love working with couples to make sure we have enough time to fit everything they want on their wedding day.

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