Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. Brides make hundreds of decisions to plan the perfect wedding and we want to help them make some of those decisions easier. In this series, we’re opening up about different parts of the wedding day timeline and uncovering some of the best decisions every bride can make before the wedding to help ensure the day is everything the bride envisions, and maybe even more! If you’re joining us for the first time, you can catch up here:
1. 5 Tips for Choosing Your Getting Ready Venue
2. 5 Things Every Bride Should Bring to Her Getting Ready Room
3. Is a First Look Right for Me?
4. The First Look from a Groom’s Perspective
5. Building in Time for Bride and Groom Portraits
6. The Three B’s: Bridal Party, Bouquets, & Boutonnieres
7. Making Time for Ceremony and Reception Details
8. Why We LOVE Linens
A Magic 30 Minutes
One of the most important parts to having a smooth wedding day is a custom timeline that gives you a stress-free, rush-free wedding experience, and gives your photographer enough time and space to capture everything from the smallest details to the biggest moments so that everything that is important to you is forever captured. For a day that is so important and so packed, the right timeline can change everything. When coordinating your timeline with your wedding planner and photographer, we recommend adding a magic 30 minute buffer in between the last portraits that are taken and the time the ceremony is scheduled to start. So, if your ceremony begins at 5:00 p.m. make sure to have all of your portraits done by 4:30 p.m. It’ll help you, your friends, your photographer and your planner all get the most out of all the hard work put into your wedding day. Here’s how:
The Bride & Bridal Party
Even if you do a first look and all of your portraits before your ceremony begins (which almost all of our brides do!), you most likely still don’t want all of your guests to see you before the wedding. You still want that moment of surprise for most of your guests when you walk down the aisle, and we agree! You should have it! Since most guests start arriving about 30 minutes before the ceremony start time, you’ll be able to easily hide yourself in your bridal suite while they arrive.
For you and your entire bridal party, it’ll give you a chance to cool off if it’s warm, warm up if it’s cold, rest your feet (and your smile) if they’re sore, drink some water, and touch up your hair and makeup. The wedding day is such a rush, and this 30 minute break in the action will be one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself and the people you love the most! A few minutes for everyone to relax, recharge and refuel will make the world of a difference, and help everyone look and feel their best during your ceremony. What could be better?
During the 30 minutes that you’re retouching and refreshing, your photographers can spring into action and grab shots of all of your ceremony details before the guests sit down or become part of the background for the shots. These details include anything you spent time making a decision about that helped make your wedding uniquely yours, whether it’s aisle decor, programs, signage, the altar, live musicians, or anything else you’ve incorporated into the look and feel of your ceremony.
Also, if your ceremony and reception are at the same location, don’t forget to talk to your planner ahead of time to have the entire reception room set up and completed 30 minutes prior to the ceremony, so that your photographer can take photos of the entire reception room untouched, before guests start laying their coats and purses on tables and moving their escort cards. You and your planner put a lot of thought and intention into every aspect of the incredible party you’re throwing for your guests, and it’d be a shame not to have evidence of your hard work the way you’ve envisioned it for so long! This ensures you’ll have gorgeous photos of everything looking exactly the way it was meant to look.
The Planner and Coordinator
When you’re working with your planner on the timeline and you request to have the reception room decorated and completed 30 minutes before the ceremony time, they might ask you why or if it’s absolutely necessary, since so many venues are used to putting the final touches on the dining tables during the ceremony. Let them know that by getting everything set up a little bit earlier than normal, your photographer will be able to provide them with beautiful images of the entire ballroom and dining table details and decor for marketing their venue in print and online. Typically, if there’s something in it for them, there’s a little more incentive for them to get everything picture-perfect.
If you’re looking for a way to get more rest, more images from your photographer, and more teamwork from your planner on your wedding day, this small tweak to the timeline creates a win-win-win situation for everyone!
Post Update on 1/21/14
One of our awesome blog readers, Stacey, asked a great question in response to this post, so we decided to update it for everyone to read! She asked a very practical question that comes up at a lot of weddings: How do you get reception room and table detail/decor shots if the ceremony and reception are at different locations? We have a few solutions that’ll hopefully help!
1. Have Your Photographer Leave RIGHT After the Ceremony
If you have two photographers, you can have one of them take off immediately following the ceremony to beat all of the guests back to the reception site. If the wedding is at a church, one of the photographers can get a head start since they’re out of the church when the bride, groom and bridal party has made their exit. Also, since most guests usually hang out in the church foyer or outside for a few minutes following the ceremony, one of your photographers should be able to get at least a 10 minute head start on the guests. Even though that’s tight, it’s still enough time to grab some great shots of the reception decor. Plus, then you still have one photographer with the bride and groom at all times, so you miss a thing!
2. Ask the Wedding Planner/Coordinator to Keep the Reception Doors Closed
Whether a couple does a first look or has portraits taken after the ceremony, it’s very common for cocktail hour to last at least an hour and be held in an outdoor space off the reception room, like a patio or porch. If this is the case, we’d communicate with the venue coordinator and bride ahead of time and ask them to keep the reception ballroom doors locked until we had a chance to arrive from the ceremony and photograph the room for the bride. Even if we can only have the room to ourselves for a few minutes, with two photographers that would give us enough time for one of us to set up our tripod for an overall room shot while the other grabs detail shots at individual tables.