Whether you are right at the start of your wedding planning journey or just finalising details, being aware of the timings of your day is so important. It will help you identify where any gaps are that you could use some entertainment for your guests and ensure you have things spread evenly throughout the day so you don't end up with that strange lull between day and evening where no one really knows what to do!
What is more important to you on your big day? Do you want to be able to have a lovely lazy breakfast with your wedding party and get ready with a bottle of bubbly dancing round the room together? Or is it more important for you to have an extra hour with that amazing band you have booked? Do you want a day full of documentary photography to tell your story from a distance? Or do you want some real WOW moments thrown in there at a local beauty spot? There is no wrong or right way to do your day, but by being aware of timings and making these decisions right from the start you won't end up in a state later on in your journey when you suddenly realise you are going to need to be up at 4am to get everything done in time for that 10am ceremony!
TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK
I can not stress enough how much time flies on your wedding day, especially during preparations, literally you blink and its time to put your outfit on! My biggest tip is to already plan what time you want to get dressed, and don't underestimate how long that could take especially if you have a whole load of fiddly buttons and everyone has suddenly had new nail extensions! Make sure your hair and make up team know what time you want to be getting dressed, ideally, especially for make up, they need to be doing you second to last - as close as possible to your ceremony that you will look beautiful and fresh but not last in case things run over! One of the first questions I ask when I arrive is what time are you planning on putting your clothes on - this is nine times out of ten met with a shoulder shrug and a mumbled 10 minutes before the ceremony maybe - I promise you this will only cause stress and mayhem at the time when you want to be calm and collected.
HOW MANY PHOTOGRAPHERS?
Many people presume the only reason to have a second photographer is to capture both individuals of the couple getting ready, but this is just the tip of the iceburg. There are many other reasons including different angles of the ceremony and lots more candid images of your guests and views to tell the story of your day. However for me timings is one of the biggest plus point of having two photographers. If you have booked one photographer they simply CAN NOT leave wherever you are getting ready at the same time as you - and to some extent that doesn't really matter if its a room in the same building or a 20 minute drive (obviously its slightly more manageable if only a run down a hallway!).
The photographer will need to pack up their kit, (if not in same venue also get to car, load car, get to venue, find somewhere to park, unload kit and run to find ceremony location!!) get to the ceremony venue, unpack kit, find the other half of the wedding party to do pictures of them, locate the wedding rings and take pictures of those plus any other details needed, find whoever is conducting the ceremony to receive my instructions for any restrictions/rules I need to abide by and get their kit all set up to get back outside ready for the arrival of the first half of the couple!
This will leave you with a few options;
A) You plan ahead to make sure you are dressed a little earlier to allow time for those last images as a single person as well as those first looks by your nearest and dearest.
B) You decide those moments aren't a priority to you and decide not to have them captured at all.
C) You book an upgraded package with your photographer that includes two photographers meaning each side of the wedding party has someone with them and there is a lot less rushing between the two.
DON'T BE LATE
I often hear during preparations "ohhh don't worry if you're a bit late, its traditional". Sadly this is no longer the case! It really is a case of time waits for no man (or woman) and both civil and religious ceremonies are often conducted by someone who has numerous ceremonies to conduct in one day. They are usually on a tight time schedule and simply can not wait because your make up artist was running late or it took too long to get into your dress. You will have signed something in advance that states you must be on time or they have the right to leave for the next ceremony - you have been warned!
Firstly, please keep these to a minimum! I can assure you NO ONE enjoys this part of the day! You really don't need any more than 6 - each partner has parents, grandparents and siblings - job done! (wedding party i.e bridesmaids, ushers can be done later)
There may be important people that you would still like a formal photograph with and its your day, that's fine! But just make sure you plan in sufficient time, allow 5 mins per group - even with the 6 groups already suggested you have already stood there for 30 minutes!
The best time, and most flattering time to have images of you and your other half is during the golden hour - which is a fancy way of saying the last hour before sunset. You can easily google well in advance (like two years!!) when sunset will be on your big day so it is definitely worth making sure you have 15 minutes free in the evening to nip out for those WOW shots. Depending on the time of year will depend on whether its before or after your first dance but do keep it in mind when booking your photographer for how long you want them for.
ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?
OK, so its not those exact words but the sentiments are the same. Make sure people are informed, not only on the day but also before the day of when food will be served. This enables them to plan to not be starving hungry and makes for much more cheerful and less hangry mood swings! Remember if you have a 2pm ceremony, you will probably be requesting they arrive from 1pm, so they will be getting ready and travelling over lunchtime. By the time your ceremony is done and you are having a few drinks it will be 3pm, allow approximately an hour for photographers and then a line up if you are having one and all of a sudden its 4:30pm and people haven't eaten all day! So keep the canapes coming, make sure you have some music and/or entertainment for that time and if you keep the guests fed and entertained there will be no whingy questions to bring you down from cloud 9.
I know it all sounds very simple and common sense, but I promise you just a little bit of extra thought will make sure you get to enjoy your day without any rushing, stress or worrying about Aunt Ethel who hasn't eaten all day and just passed out in the toilets after her second sherry of the afternoon!
I will leave with lots of very happy guests who have definitely being fed, watered and entertained for those big smiles!