5 Timeline Tips for a Stress-Free Wedding Day


There’s a lot going on in your world. Add in wedding planning, and it’s totally normal if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed out. 

As a fairly new newlywed myself, I understand what you’re going through. Things can add up fast! That’s why I try not to add any confusion or stress to an already stressful situation. My goal is to bring a sense of peace and calm- before, during, and after the wedding. And I believe solid preparation and steady communication are the keys to eliminating as much stress as possible. 

One of the best ways to prepare is through a carefully planned timeline. So, today, I’m showing you how an organized timeline benefits everyone involved in the wedding! Read on for my tips on how you can create a timeline that leads to a relatively stress-free day. 



Benefits of a Carefully Planned Photo Timeline:

  • You’ll feel relaxed, at ease, and be able to enjoy the day fully. 

  • Things go more smoothly, and you’ll end up with multiple pockets of “downtime” throughout the day to just hang out with your partner, wedding party, or family.

  • The day won’t feel like one big photoshoot production. It will feel natural, easy, and you’ll actually enjoy taking photos!

  • Having plenty of time means nothing gets missed, so you’ll get all the photos you want and more.

Downside of a Poorly Planned Timeline:

  • Feeling rushed and stressed, which can show up in your photos.

  • Not getting photos of everything you wanted, or at least not when you wanted (i.e., the sun goes down before you’re able to get all of the outdoor portraits you wanted).

  • Making guests wait for you while you take photos. This might annoy the guests, which can put more stress on you. At that point, you may enjoy your photos less and feel like you have to rush through them.



My 5 Tips for Timeline Success:


1. Determine Your Priorities 

One of the first and best things you can do to minimize stress is determining your priorities for your wedding. Then make sure your timeline reflects them. 

Do you want to spend the cocktail hour mingling with your guests? Then plan your day so that all of the photos are taken before that time. 

Are family photos really important to you? Then have a detailed family photo list and allow plenty of time for those photos. You won’t feel rushed and can actually enjoy interacting with family members while you take photos. 



Also, think about how much time you want to spend together as a couple on the wedding day. For some, their focus is on spending time with their guests. They don’t necessarily want time set aside for them as a couple (other than for portraits). 

On the other hand, many couples do want to spend a considerable amount of time together. But, they don’t consider that when planning the day — or don’t even know that it’s an option! 

If this is you… consider doing a first look (logistically, this allows you to see each other for more of the day), having breakfast together in the morning, eating dinner together apart from the guests, and taking a few minutes right before or after the ceremony to sit down and relax. However you want to do it, get creative and have fun with it!

Every couple will have different priorities for their wedding day and the kind of photos they want. It’s important to determine what those are for you and have intentional timing for them. 



2. Work Backwards 

I know it may seem counterintuitive, but working from the end of the photography coverage to the beginning of the day is actually a great strategy for minimizing wedding day stress. Ask yourself questions like: 

Do you want photos of the whole dance reception? Or just a few songs? Are you planning to do a staged exit photo? 

Whatever the case, subtract time from those moments to help you determine if there’s enough time at the start of the day. Plan your day around this idea! 



3. Build in Wiggle Room

And always more wiggle room than you think you need. Be very realistic about how long things take, and then add wiggle room on top of that. Because if your timeline is too crunched, it will be easy to get behind, and things can get stressful fast. And that stress will show up on your face in the photos!

For example, if you assume that your wedding party photos will take 30 minutes, go ahead and allow for 40-45 minutes, just in case. It’s always better to have more time allotted, even if you don’t use it. If you end early, you have a built-in extra few minutes of hanging out with the wedding party. Win-win! 



And don’t forget travel time! I always consider and build in ample travel time between locations (driving between the hair salon and the ceremony venue, the hotel room to the portrait location, the ceremony venue to the reception venue, etc.). Consider how many vehicles people are taking, how long it will take everyone to load into the cars, and find out if there will be any unusual traffic or construction en route. 

I can’t stress enough that it’s better to build in more time than “just enough” or less. If it takes a shorter amount of time, great! You’ll have an opportunity to just breathe and hang out rather than rushing off to the next photo spot. This allows for a more relaxed experience for everyone.

I always build in extra time throughout the day wherever possible so that we can keep ahead of schedule, and I build in at least 30 minutes before the ceremony without any photos. This allows for some downtime for you and your partner to relax and hang out with your wedding party or family while I take detailed shots of the decor and guest candids. 



4. Book a Photography Package with More Time 

Most photographers offer an eight-hour photography package, which sounds like a lot of time. But when you break it down and really consider everything, eight hours start cutting it close.

I’ve found that 9-10 hours of photography coverage is the sweet spot for most average-sized weddings (100+ guests).  

When you book a photo package that already has some extra time built in, you don’t have to worry about paying for overtime or not getting the photos you want because something doesn’t go to plan.



5. Make Time to Eat!

It sounds like a no-brainer, right? But couples usually only eat at dinner (or not at all). I always feel terrible when a couple is really hungry and just wants to get to dinner, but we still have a bunch of photos we have to get. 

I recommend eating breakfast and lunch, as well as keeping a few snacks and drinks handy throughout the day, and plenty of water! A lot happens on a wedding day and you’ll need fuel to keep you up and running.

When it comes to dinnertime, consider eating separately from your guests so you can enjoy your meal in peace and quiet without the distraction of guests greeting you. You have the rest of the night to mingle and party with everyone! Plus, it’s just nice to have a few minutes by yourselves before the night goes on.



I hope these tips help you during your wedding planning!

If you have any questions or you would like help creating a photography timeline, please reach out! I’m excited to hear all about your big-day details!





5 Timeline Tips for a Stress-Free Wedding Day

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