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Wedding Timeline Tips

We’ll just call this one Ten Tips Tuesday, and we are chatting all about our fav wedding timeline tips!

Before you get too far in the planning process, be sure to understand these vital wedding timeline tips! You definitely DON’T want you to get a month out from your wedding and realize you only have 40 minutes to take all the pictures you want. It’s super important to get understand these tips early in your process, because they can help you determine your ceremony time, reception time, whether you want to do a first look or not, how much time is needed for pictures, etc!

We hope these will be helpful for you in making big decisions about your wedding day.

1. Sunset Time

A Couple gets married outside at sunset in Scottsdale
Fall Wedding at El Chorro

Check the sunset time for your wedding day! Simply type into google “sunset time, {Wedding City} {Wedding Date}”. Use this as the center of your timeline. If you’re having an outdoor ceremony, and doing all your portraits beforehand, schedule your ceremony start time to be anywhere from 60-90 minutes before sunset time for optimal lighting conditions. This is known as golden hour and your pictures will be dreamy and gorgeous!! If you’re doing an indoor or outdoor ceremony and not doing a first look, make sure you give your photographer 2 hours to complete Bride and Groom Portraits, Family Formals, and Wedding Party Formals before before heading to the reception. *THEREFORE, Do not schedule your ceremony 60-90 minutes before if you will be doing portraits after! In that case then you’d want to schedule is 3-3.5 hours before sunset.

2. First Look

A groom reacts to seeing his bride for the first time at The Desert Botanical Garden

If you are doing a first look, it’s a great idea to do ALL your formal pictures before the ceremony begins so you can go and enjoy your cocktail hour! Ideally, 2 hours of picture time is necessary to get all the magical moments and ensure a stress free portrait time! 2 Hours includes Bride and Groom, Family, and Bridal Party photos TOTAL. If you have a large bridal party and a large immediate family, allot for about 30 extra minutes. In general, doing a first look increases the quality of your timeline and the ease of the day SIGNIFICANTLY!

3. Hair & Makeup

Two girls get ready for a wedding and clink their champagne glasses

Schedule hair and make-up to start two hours before you think you need to. If you have a large bridal party, make sure you have more then one hair and make-up person. Giving yourself ample time in the morning is ESSENTIAL. Plus, if you’re done early there’s more time for champagne and dance parties, am I right?!

4. Details

Navy blue details for a wedding. A velvet purse and heels, champagne, an engagement ring and a wedding band.

Keep ALL your details in one place in the morning for when your photographers arrive. For my clients I provide you and your Maid of Honor with a list of everything we will want to photograph and it saves a TON of time in the morning if it’s all ready to go when we arrive! I can’t express how crucial this one step is to getting great detail shots.

5. Travel Time

Keep in mind how much time it takes to travel between all your venues (Getting Ready, Ceremony, Reception) and account for this time and extra in your timeline estimate and your hourly coverage with us. If you have an hour or more of travel, you may want to ask about adding an hour to your contract to account for missed photo time.

6. Reception Details

A table set up from an outdoor reception with light pink and white flowers, greenery, plate settings, and white floating candles.

Give your photographers time to capture the Reception details untouched! If your portraits are all happening during the cocktail hour, make sure you give our photo team enough time to go into the reception space before your guests do to capture the details without people around and set up their lights. 15 minutes is usually sufficient!

7. Dress Prep

Make sure your dress and your bridesmaids dresses, as well as the men’s attire is steamed the day BEFORE the wedding, and have the steamer nearby the morning of your wedding for any touch ups. 

8. Hire a Coordinator or Planner

A couple shares their first dance outside at their wedding reception in Scottsdale.

Hire at least a day of wedding coordinator (if not a planner!) to help keep all vendors on time and ensure the day runs smoothly. This is the only way to ensure flawless timeline execution! They also take care of any and all hiccups that happen such as but not limited to: your bouquet not being the right flowers and needing to be redone. Providing flip flops for you to wear because you forgot to bring them and didn’t realize how much heels SUCK.

The list goes on.. and yes, our photo team has had to do all of these things as the PHOTOGRAPHER when no coordinator was present, and this cut a lot of time into their ability to take pictures because they were putting out fires. Don’t let this fall onto your bridal party or family members to fix! They’re there to enjoy the day. When you hire a planner, you gift yourself less stress. If you would like any day of wedding planner recommendations, here are just two of the many we LOVE working with: Your Jubilee and A Day to Cherish Events. Let us know if you want more recommendations, because we LOVE our planner friendors!

9. Reception Events

If your photography and video only cover a set amount of hours make sure all your important reception events fall into the time that they are there. As a result of great wedding timeline planning, you can ensure no priceless moments are missed!

10. Relax

And our most important wedding timeline tip. Relax. Seriously, at the end of the day, no matter what tiny details go wrong, you are still marrying the love of your life. And in reality, it’s not the wedding that matters, it’s the marriage.

If you want to read more, check out one of our recent weddings at Royal Palm Resort and Spa! Click Here

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Every detail of their wedding was soft and romantic, from the soft and airy peach and patina color pallet, to the vintage and personal touches at every turn, their day was as beautiful as Aimee, Erik, and their love.

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