You have spent months planning your wedding day, from picking out flowers, and sampling cakes, to making sure your dress fits perfectly. All of those prepations come together in a 10 hour day that will be flooded with emotion. I hear so many couples say, their wedding day goes by too fast. Often times your timeline is so full, it can be hard to breath in the moment.

Your wedding day will be full of family members begging for take a selfie and share a fun story from your childhood, to vendors checking in with last minute details. It is so important to make time for YOU as a a couple… Now I know that might sound obvious, but trust me you have to plan for it!

Okay, now here is the most important advice, if you don’t use anything else from this article make sure to add this in…Alone time with your fiance! I know, I know, DUH! But adding in a few extra minutes after your first look or before you enter your reception will give you a chance to celebrate this incredible occasion away from a crowd of family, where you can truly be yourself!

There are so many little moments that can derail your wedding day, but with a few quick 5 or 10 minute additions to your timeline, you can make sure to enjoy every second without feeling rushed! Keep reading to hear some of the most important and easily forgotten timeline additions.



Travel time:
This is one of the most obvious, but easily overlooked timeline additions. Now, if you are staying at your venue site from the morning getting ready, through your reception, go ahead and skip this one! Often times couples (especially bridal parties) get their hair and makeup done off site, you might have even checked the GPS and added in the drive time to your schedule. However you always need to add in at least a 15-30 minute buffer, you never know if there will be traffic, or multiple trips unloading the car, and even last minute touchups to the brides hair that could delay you leaving! There is nothing worse than starting off the beginning of your wedding day feeling rushed!

Prepping Flowers:
This step makes a big difference. Most often we will try to take all of your bridal party photos before the ceremony! At this time we will want all of your bridesmaids to carry their bouquets and groomsmen wearing their boutonnieres. You always want to add in 10 minutes before the photos begin to prep all of the flowers. Since your bouquets have been sitting in water all morning, you will need to dry off the stems so they do not leave spots on your bridesmaid dresses. BUT the most time consuming is getting the groomsmen situated with boutonierres. You wouldn’t believe how many times the men and they show up from pictures looking all out of sorts, with flowers hanging upside down or almost falling off because they werent pinned propery. At no fault of their own, most guys have never pinned a boutonierre on their jacket before, often times your photographers and planner have to help the guys with these last minute touches and depending on the number of groomsmen it can cut into your timeline!

Bridesmaids getting dressed:
I always recommend that you set a specific time for your bridesmaids to finish getting ready, typically about 15 minutes before the bride is putting on her dress. Most gals will want to stay in their yoga pants/oversized shirt as long as possible before slipping on their formal dress and high heels. Giving your bridesmaids a “get dressed time” allows everyone to put on their finishing touches without feeling rushed. This is also a great moment to tidy up the space where you will be getting in your dress, preferable near a window. You don’t want curling irons and solo cups in the background of your beautiful photos

Pre-Ceremony Gift Exchange:
The wedding morning can look a little different for the bride and groom. ⁠Most times the gals spend hours in the morning anticipating the first look or ceremony kiss and by the time they slip in their dress, the emotions are almost bursting! ⁠BUT, for the groom, their morning might not look that different than a normal day. The best way to prep for the moment you finally get to see your partner is to set up intentional alone time to exchange letters or gifts before your first look! ⁠This time to decompress, away from distraction is the perfect moment to help focus in on the celebration of your wedding day. By adding in these 10 minutes to your timeline, will create a sense of comfort and gives you a much better chance of capturing the true emotions!



Family Formal list:
Taking family photos after your ceremony, can be one of the most tedious but important parts. These are the photos that your parents or grandparents will frame on their mantal for years to come. Although this might not be your favorite part of the day, there are a few ways to make this process run smoothly. This time can quickly get carried away with extended family begging for a photo with the bride and groom. By setting expectations ahead of time, you can quickly check these off the list and enjoy cocktail hour with your guests!

When you start family photos you will want to have one solo person in charge, usually the photographer/planner, or family member to assist organizing people. It’s best to make an announcement at the end of your ceremony to “have all immediate family stay at the ceremony site for family photos” . The best way to start is to create an exact list of shots for your photographer, usually 10-15 groupings, with first and last names… (not just Mom or Aunt Sue) so that we can quickly call out names and organize photos! I also recommend keeping extended family photos to one or two large groups and save any individual shots for later in the reception!

Alone time for Bride and Groom:
I already mentioned this earlier, but this moment is so important. Following family photos and before the reception begins, is a great time for the Bride and Groom to sneak off to a quiet area of the venue to decompress. You can share your experiences from the morning and celebrate that you are officially MARRIED! You can even coordinate this with your planner and venue to have the catering staff bring you a signature cocktail and a tray of snacks! YES you have to schedule time to eat on your wedding day!

Organizing your Reception Entrance.
This might sound like a quick 2 minute task, but depending on how far your wedding party has wondered, you will need to gather everyone and get them lined up before your grand entrance. This is also the time you will want to bustle your dress. I always recommend having a dedicated person, MOH or family member who has practice your bustle and can quickly pin up your excess train so that you are ready to hit the dance floor!

Sneak away for Sunset portraits
Depending on the time of year and season of your wedding, it is likely that the best lighting for photos (golden hour) will be happening during your reception! If sunset portraits are important to you, this is an easy timeline addition. I usually recommend sneaking out of the reception about 30 minutes before the sun will set to get a few extra photos! This works great once the bride and groom have finished eating and the rest of the guests are still being served, we can head outside for these photos without being noticed!

Reception Send-Off
If your venue has a strict cut off time you will want to play your last song and start organizing guest for your exit at least 15 minutes before. Especially when it comes to a traditional send-off that involves sparkers or ribbons, or anything that needs to be passed out. It often takes some time for guests to finish gathering their belonging and make their way outside.

Wedding planning tips for enjoying your wedding day without feeling rushed

All of these simple 10 minute timeline additions can make your wedding day feel much more enjoyable. You should  be able to celebrate your wedding day freely and not feel rushed to jump to the next thing. Having a great team of vendors can help make the day run smoothly without having to think about what is next! I always recommend hiring a day or coordinator or planner to facilitate these timeline transitions!

If you are planning a Central Virginia wedding, I have a full list of rockstar vendors I would love to share with you! Just INQUIRE through this link to get started!

If you are looking for additional resources about planning a stress free wedding day check out this article with the “Top 5 Reasons to Add a Second Shooter!”

The Most Forgotten Wedding Timeline Additions | Virginia Wedding Photographer

Jun 17, 2020

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I'm Heather, a Wedding & Brand Photographer serving Central Virginia & Beyond! I love sharing beautiful love stories, inspiring wedding details, and practical tips for a stress free wedding!

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