wedding day

How to Craft the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

There is so much to be said for a wedding day that runs smoothly, and a lot of that goes back to careful planning and a well-thought out timeline. There are some things you may not have much control over depending on your venue(s)* and catering schedule, but nearly everything else is up to you. (*Many churches specify what time you can have your ceremony based on other events happening at the church, and caterers often have to stick to a strict schedule for preparing, delivering, and serving the food).

One thing that can cause a lot of contention is whether or not the bride and groom will see each other before the ceremony. I am a big proponent of the First Look or Reveal as they are called, but I never force any of my couples to do so. In fact, I would say my couples are probably 50/50 on seeing each other before the ceremony.

So without further ado, here is my top 5 list (plus 1 bonus!) of tips for how to create the perfect wedding day timeline:


1) Strongly consider doing a First Look. I saw a post a few weeks ago from an event coordinator at a wedding venue who is based about an hour from me. She talked about why she always recommends a First Look to her venue’s wedding couples because it gives the wedding day great momentum. I love that word “momentum” and think it’s a great way to summarize the benefits of doing a First Look. By doing all your photos before the ceremony, you free up the rest of the day to mingle with your guests at a cocktail hour, go straight into dinner and the reception, and most of all stay on schedule. There’s no downtime for your guests to find something to do, eat, see, or drink while they wait for the rest of the festivities.


2) Add in small time buffers throughout the day to allow for the unexpected. Allow time before the ceremony to be hidden away before guests arrive. Allow 5 minutes here or there for makeup and hair touchups. And even if you don’t ultimately need that time, your photographer will be grateful to not be rushed and to have the extra time for gorgeous portraits!

3) Account for travel time. If you are using a bus, limo, trolley, or some other large vehicle, know that they travel slower than smaller cars. And you’ll also need a buffer if everyone is driving/riding separately because it’s almost inevitable that at least one car will get lost or show up a few minutes late (another great reason to rent a limo, etc!). I always ask my couples for normal drive time between ceremony and reception (and sometimes alternate photo location too), and then add in a few extra minutes to account for traffic or other inevitables.


3) Have a cocktail hour. Even if they are dry, cocktail hours are great for making up time for anything that got missed or any family photos where everyone wasn’t present earlier in the day. I will typically also use this time to photograph the reception space and details. Don’t skimp on this important chunk of time — it allows your vendors to regroup and align everything for dinner start time.

4) Make a detailed reception schedule. Plan out the schedule of events with your DJ, band or emcee, allowing adequate time for guests to eat. Ask people giving toasts to limit speaking time to stay on schedule. Don’t leave too much downtime between dinner and other events like cake cutting, first dances, etc, because some guests won’t want to stay too late. A lot of places will have you cut your cake now during dinner, so they can begin cutting the cake and serve it immediately after dinner, which I think is a great idea!

A great DJ will keep things on your tight schedule, and keep things moving. Be sure to communicate your wishes to stay on schedule. I am a big fan of constant music, less “mic” talking, and NO dead air! Dead air (as Urban Dictionary describes it is “an uncomfortable period of awkward silence that usually occurs in a tense social setting"). I am happy to supply you with a list of my favorite DJs that do all of these things!

5) Google sunset time. I do this before every wedding, but it’s important for the couple to add it into their own reception timeline also. I just search “sunset time for xx/xx/xxxx date in xxxxxx city” and that specific time is how I track the timing for sunset pictures that night. I prefer the sky to be just a little darker/colorful (so after sunset), so about 5-10 minutes after Google’s time is usually perfect.

6) Bonus tip: Note your photographer’s end time. If your photographer is booked for a certain amount of time, be sure their end time is in your reception timeline so the DJ or emcee knows. I usually will check in with the DJ when I arrive to the reception, but it still helps for them to know that info ahead of time. That way they can be sure to get in all the important events before the photographer needs to leave.


Preparing for the Worst on Your Wedding Day

In today’s #weddingwednesday post, I’m collaborating with my friends at Azazie, a leading fashion bridal party online store. They are sharing some awesome tips for remedying stressful situations that can arise on a wedding day. Hopefully you will never have to deal with any of these events, but it’s always better to be prepared! Read on from Azazie!

preparing for the worst on your wedding day.png
avoiding wedding day stress

Prepare for the Worst - All Unfortunate Events that Might Happen During your Wedding Day!

Weddings have gained the reputation of being the best day of someone’s life. While they are certainly a time to be celebrated and revered, they’re also a major event, often with a high price tag, lots of guests, and a lot of moving parts.

Yes, things go wrong during weddings, sometimes no matter how well prepared a couple may be. However, the show must go on! Here’s how to prepare for the worst and handle the unfortunate events that might happen during your special day.

Spill on the Wedding Dress

The dress is the real event of the wedding for most brides, and perhaps the detail that matters the most. Think about it. You’ve spent hours looking for the perfect destination wedding dresses by Azazie for your romantic tropical elopement. You’ve saved, you’ve swiped credit cards, you’ve gone to fittings and had it tucked, tailored and customized to your heart’s desire. Then, out of nowhere, someone spills a glass of red wine, or you drop one of those tasty, oily snacks on yourself. Don’t panic! Here’s how to get out the most common stains in a pinch:

  • Oil or grease - do not use water! Apply baby powder or cornstarch and let it sit for 15 minutes before wiping away. Repeat a few times as needed. See to the rest with a dab of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. This will greatly minimize the visibility of the stain.

  • Red wine - believe it or not, white wine can help pull the red wine from the fabric. Follow up with baking soda and warm water, wiping toward the center of the stain.

  • Makeup - use a makeup remover wipe or cream and rub into the area. Let it set, then remove it with a damp cloth before soaking up the residue with baby powder or cornstarch.

Try to mitigate stains by eating and applying makeup before putting the dress on for the ceremony.

avoiding stains and spills on your wedding day

Rain in an Outdoor Ceremony

When planning an outdoor wedding, you should always be prepared for bad weather. While it can be disappointing, having a plan in place to move to an indoor location or tent is ideal. Alternatively, invest in black or clear umbrellas just in case. While the rain may seem disappointing at first, there’s nothing more romantic than rainy wedding day pictures.

Missing Ring

Losing the rings can be extremely stressful. However, the rings aren’t a legal requirement for a wedding. Don’t waste too much time looking for the rings; have someone else search while you proceed with the events. In a pinch, ask to borrow your parents’ rings for a solution that still offers intimacy and symbolism.

don't lose the wedding rings

Guest Drama

From embarrassing speeches to drunk uncles to uninvited plus one guests, the actions of others is not something within your control. The best you can do when these issues arise is take a breath and not let it ruin your day, delegating someone else to deal with the situation.

You aren’t obligated to provide a meal to an unwanted guest or even give them a seat with their date. Nor do you have to deal with someone else’s emotional meltdown. Have your planner or a designated bridesmaid or groomsmen handle the situation discreetly.

Remember, all that matters on your wedding day is the celebration of your union with your significant other. Don’t sweat the small stuff; it all makes for a great story to tell your grandchildren. And remember, your dream honeymoon is right around the corner - you will have deserved relaxation soon!

Benefits of Doing a First Look | Bride's Planning Guide


One of the #1 things that always gets discussed at my wedding consultations is: “Should we see each other before the ceremony or not?”

First Look from two perspectives

First Look from two perspectives

First Look for outdoor summer wedding

First Look for outdoor summer wedding

When I meet with couples for their initial consultation, I tell them that my clients usually end up being about 50/50 on this decision.I am a strong advocate of the “First Look” or “Reveal,” but I don’t push my clients in either direction.I want you to feel comfortable in the decision you make, and most people who *don’t* want to see each other have very strong feelings about it, so I don’t push the issue.It is very sacred for some people that the groom first sees the bride on the wedding day when she walks down the aisle. I totally respect that decision!

I thought it might be helpful to walk through the pros of doing a first look for those still weighing their options.By seeing each other before the ceremony, you take some pressure off each other (especially the groom waiting in front of your entire guest list!).You get to see each other for the first time in a much more private moment, shake off some of those nerves, and spend a couple of minutes together before all the hustle and bustle (see what I did there?!) of the day.

First Look from second shooter's perspective

First Look from second shooter's perspective

First Look at fall golf club wedding

First Look at fall golf club wedding

Aside from that, the First Look is a good idea because it allows us to get most of the important photos out of the way before the ceremony, which gives the couple more time at the cocktail hour and less time keeping the guests waiting for their arrival.Before the ceremony, we can do photos of the the couple, bridal party, individuals, and some family photos.That leaves just any remaining family groups for after the ceremony, and a quick stop at an alternate location for more couple photos, and possibly a bridal party pose or two.I recommend that all my couples choose at least one alternate location for their photos aside from the ceremony and reception spots, just so they have some variety in their gallery and album.Locations that are personal or special to the couple are always encouraged!

First Look under shade tree at country club

First Look under shade tree at country club