How To Schedule Your Wedding Day

December 3, 2020

This is my How To Schedule Your Wedding Day Guide.

In this blog I plan to explain how to plan out your day, account for any lateness with others, and plan out your whole day so it runs smoothly.  You should be able to hand the timeline off to a friend and sit back and enjoy the day.

Let’s start with planning your day.  I will give you an example for a full day of wedding madness.  Then I will breakdown what you should allow for each item so you can piece together your day.  EVERY Wedding Day is different.

The following schedule is for a Full Wedding Day with a Church Ceremony, 1 photo location, and Reception.

8 am- Hair and Makeup Starts- the average is 7 ladies including the Bride and Mother of the Bride.  Talk to your hair and makeup team.  You should have at least one hair stylist and one makeup artist.  DO NOT have one person doing both unless you have 1 or 2 people getting hair and makeup done.  This is for another blog post.  Average is 45min for hair and 45 min for makeup, but your Beauty Team should have this scheduled for you.  The Bride should go a few before last for hair and second to last for makeup.  That way when the last few ladies are getting their finishing touches, the Bride can relax.  Flowers should arrive by the time the Photographer does.

10-11am-Photographer #1 Arrives with ladies and captures Hair and Makeup, detail shots, dress photos, toasts between the bride and bridesmaids, and the bride having her dress zipped or buttoned up, and jewelry put on(Bride should be fully dressed an hour before leaving the Bridal prep location, and allow for 10 to 15 extra minutes for the Bridal Entourage to clean up and get their things together to leave because it will be everywhere, and an extra 10-15 minutes of driving in the event of traffic, a train, or an accident on the road you need to take, so that is half an hour for photos with mom, bridesmaids, and anyone else, and half an hour for cushion).  You will be so happy you have cushion in your schedule.  You are better off having a little extra time, than not enough.  Time is finite.  You do not get a re do on the day.

12:30- Photographer #2 Arrives with Groom and Groomsman- Getting ready photos will take place- Details shots, getting dressed, and photos with groomsman(woman) and should plan to arrive 30-45 minutes prior to the ceremony to greet guests and earlier if the boutonnieres are arriving at the church and not the prep location

2:30pm Ceremony- Groom and his people should arrive 30-45 min ahead.  The Bride and her entourage should arrive about 10 min prior to the ceremony start.  There is usually a library or room at the church for the two parties to hide from each other.  Justice of the peace or basic officiant service will take about 15min, non denominational services take about 30 min, Catholic Mass takes an hour+, and Jewish Ceremonies take 60 to 90 min depending on the number of readings and the Rabbi.

3:30pm – Photos with family, bridal party, and couple at the ceremony site will take about 45 min because this wedding party and couple are going to another site for photos.  Albeit a forest preserve, park, downtown area, or special place to them.

***If you do a receiving line and there are 100 guests or more, it will take more than an hour+***I warned a couple of the length of time that receiving lines take, and the small amount of time that they allotted for photos in general, and after 72 min they were done with the receiving line.  4 of their bridal party members were doing shots during that time and were in no shape to take any photos, the parents were no where to be found for 25min, and one of the flower girls fell asleep.  We got the shots of course, and thankfully had enough of the bridal party members from earlier to head swap so they weren’t a giant mess in the photos, and found the parents, but the couple missed their cocktail hour because the receiving line time took most of that, and we had to push back the entrances and then pull the couple back out during dinner for photos.  We gave them an awesome collection, and they were so thankful that we knew how to handle the few hiccups and apologetic for not listening to our advice.  You can have the receiving line, but you need to plan the time.  1-2 min per guest/couple and time to touch up the bride’s makeup.

4:45pm- Photos at photo site with bridal party and couple.  I try and complete the family photos all at the ceremony site so that the parents of the Bride and Groom can go take care of whatever they need to, and the bridal party and couple can let loose and feel more relaxed.  Most of us have known the parents of the couple forever when we stand up in a wedding, and its hard to not still see them how we did when we were 10. 60-90 min of photos with 2 photographers.

6:30 Cocktail hour-Good news! This couple can hang out with your family and friends because your photos are done!  If you have a one site wedding and everything flows together, you will not be hanging out, and you will be taking photos during this time, unless you did a first look and your photos were done before the ceremony.

7:30 Entrances in by bridal party-15-20 min- The DJ should be planning this as they are splicing music and doing the announcing.  DJs should tell you when you are planning when they need to arrive at the venue.  They should also have a list of your must haves, and do not plays weeks or months in advance.  I have a guest blog from my favorite DJ coming soon.

7:50 Cut the Cake- Cutting the cake when you are announced in gives the reception caterers time to cut and plate it so it can be served.  If it is summer and sunset is going on, we may ask you to come outside and steal 5/10min for a small series of sunset photos.

8:00pm Dinner Service- 20 min per course platted(how do I know this?  I was a banquet manager and managed numerous weddings and events from that point of view), family style will depend on if salad is separate and then the meal brought out.  15 min to serve the meal and 20 min to eat the family style, but add 20 min per pre course- salad/soup/etc.  Buffets..  well that is a whole different animal.  Make sure your buffet is double sided and there are more than one.  Even if there are only 50 people, make sure your buffet is double sided.  Again.. what do we ask the caterer or venue to do with our buffet? (besides not even having one because buffets) Make it double sided!!  That allows for twice the amount of people to go through the line! 5-10 min per table to serve that buffet and 20 min to eat.  I had a wedding that had 35 tables and it took over an hour to serve with 2 buffets that were single sided.  That cuts into dancing time.  Do speeches during dinner and allow the staff to serve during speeches, if they can not serve during speeches, add 20min.

9:00pm-First Dances- If dinner is only an hour.  First dance times will depend on the songs picked.

9:30/10pm will be when your Photography Team leaves.  If you have a good team, they will ask you 15 min prior to leaving if you saw a relative that arrived late, or had anything else. They will also not leave if everything hasn’t happened, such as bouquet/garter tosses or anniversary or money dances.  If they are good, the answer is no, because they are thorough professionals and you paid for what you received and they knew every moment. every detail, and every key player in your life weeks before your wedding, and photographed it all throughout your time with them.  That is the Shamrock Weddings difference.  We are EXPERT Wedding Photographers, and can anticipate any issues and take care of them without you knowing.  One time Blair even re frosted a wedding cake because it was horrific.  She was able to find some roses and made a spray of flowers down the side and saved the couple from not cutting their cake at all.  In the delivered state, the bride was embarrassed to have it out and cut it.

2-4 weeks later, you will receive your gallery link, and a few weeks after that, we will have you choose your images for your products and send you the USB of your wedding gallery with a print release.

Stay tuned for more blogs on scheduling and the behind the scenes of your big wedding day!



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