I like to call it your "wedding day flow." Because who said how structured your timeline has to be? You can be as specific or general as you want - just as long as you and I both know what's happening when.
Unless you're having a short and sweet elopement, I'd suggest allowing at least two hours to get ready, and add an hour if you have more than three or four bridesmaids in your bridal party. Guys generally take about half an hour to get dressed (at most), so no rush there.
Bring a pretty hanger for your dress, and keep all your details (jewelry, shoes, veil, invitations) together to find easily!
Getting ready at a salon or someone's home? Make sure to budget drive time from there to the ceremony venue!
Seeing each other before the ceremony (having a "first look") is becoming more popular for couples who crave a quiet moment together before the craziness ensues. Usually the bride comes up behind the groom, or the couple is placed back to back and turns around to face each other. These moments make for authentically sweet, tear-jerking photos of you and your person celebrating quietly together. If you choose to do a first look, I would suggest allowing about 30 minutes in your timeline.
Pros - You get extra photos together. Plus, you can do your full bridal party photos and even some family portraits if you have time, meaning you can enjoy your reception sooner.
Cons - You don't get that big reveal during the ceremony.
bridal party portraits
You can do these before the ceremony, afterwards, or a mix of both. This partially depends on whether you're doing a first look! After all, you can't gather your entire bridal party together if you're waiting for the ceremony to see each other! I'd recommend about an hour to get these.
Most ceremonies last 20-30 minutes, so talk things over with your officiant to make sure you budget enough time. If you are planning an outdoor wedding, I would highly recommend not choosing a time between 10 AM and 2 PM, as the sun is directly overhead and gives everyone weird facial shadows!
I always suggest doing these right after the ceremony. That way, your elderly and very young loved ones can relax as soon as possible. If you like, you can ask your officiant to announce family portraits after you've exited the ceremony so your family is aware.
You can include your entire extended family or just your immediate family! To make sure we don't miss anyone, I highly recommend making a list of all the family groupings you want photos of, like,
- Us and our siblings
- Us and her parents
- Us and his parents and grandparents
I'd recommend allowing about 2-3 minutes for every group, since guests can sometimes wander off between groups!
This is an hour (obviously) for your guests to mingle while you take your family and bridal party photos. You can serve your guests hors d'oeuvres, keep them entertained with lawn games, or let them explore the venue. You can even sneak away for photos of you and your honey. I promise your guests won't miss you.
Let the party begin! This part of the day is whatever you want it to be. Want to do toasts, first dances, and cut the cake? Lovely! Want to dance to live music in front of a bonfire? Let's do it! Chat with your DJ, planner, and/or best friend about the best way to lay out the festivities.
If you're planning a formal exit (like sparklers or bubbles), plan to do it while most of your guests are still present, probably before 10 PM. Even if you don't actually leave, this provides a natural break for tired guests to go home, while you can stay and party as long as you want (at least unless the venue kicks you out)!
More questions? I'm here for you!
with a love too deep for words, i am yours forever | mumford & sons