5 Reasons Why Your Wedding Timeline Matters (for You and Your Photographer)

For a couple and their photographer, few things can affect a wedding day as much as a wedding timeline. You’ll want to give it careful consideration, especially if you’re adding film to your wedding photography package. Stacy and Mario’s intimate wedding at Downtown Market in Grand Rapids is a perfect example of how to do a wedding timeline right. They planned their day so that they could focus on connecting with each other and their people rather than rushing from one event to the next. Moreover, it allowed me to produce some of my best film and digital photography in a literal snowstorm. 

The couple talks about the wedding timeline in the greenhouse
wedding timeline with afternoon portraits after the ceremony

5 Reasons Why Your Wedding Timeline Matters

Stacy and Mario’s wedding timeline allowed space to breathe so that, even when the weather worsened, we still managed to take effortless, romantic images. When you’re planning your wedding timeline, consider these reasons why it’s important for it to feel right for you.

bride's details with wedding timeline
The couple before the ceremony

1. Your timeline determines how your day feels.

The number one reason why your wedding timeline is important is because it heavily impacts how your day feels. Put simply, larger windows of time for each thing on your timeline keeps you from feeling rushed. In my experience, the best timelines are the ones that are generous in allowing plenty of time for each part of the day to unfold naturally.

venue details in greenhouse
Plants behind the chairs at the venue for the wedding timeline

Often people think that having a well-planned wedding timeline means planning everything to the five-minute mark. That isn’t true. We’ve all heard this idea that your wedding day will fly by, and you won’t remember any of it. It’s usually a sales tactic, and it doesn’t have to be your truth. 

Polaroids of wedding details
The couple talks about their wedding timeline

Mario and Stacy planned their wedding day so that they will remember all the spontaneous, joyful moments. Their wedding timeline reflected their desire to have a relaxed wedding that was in no way hectic. It gave a lot of wiggle room and planned for downtime on top of that. Photos will be one tool they use to tell the story of their wedding, but it won’t be the only way they remember it.

Polaroids of couple with bouquet for wedding timeline

2. A thoughtful wedding timeline allows for creativity.

Because Stacy and Mario’s wedding timeline was spaced out so well, I was able to get creative with their wedding photography. This was especially true with film! Film is so intentional. It takes time to set up, so timelines that are rushed or planned to the minute can make it difficult to implement more artistic ideas. If you’re thinking about incorporating film photography into your wedding, it is critical to have a timeline that is flexible enough to get the most out of the film.

The couple touches foreheads
The couple holds hands during the ceremony

3. You can get the best light for your photos.

A well-planned wedding timeline prioritizes light, which has a big impact on your wedding photos. I love working with natural light. In my experience, my couples fall most in love with the images that are lit with natural light. If you prefer natural light to flash photography, it’s important to know where the sun is throughout your wedding day. 

the first kiss of the wedding timeline
The couple walks away happy with the wedding timeline

Remember that light changes at different times of year. I’m happy to work with clients to figure out what timeline makes the most sense for natural light portraits. Stacy and Mario got married in winter when the sun sets very early. They wanted to prioritize natural light in their photography, so they planned the ceremony during a bright time in the early afternoon. This also allowed time in the sunlight for post-ceremony portraits.

Polaroid wedding photos
winter wedding photography on film

4. You get photos of every part of your day.

The truth is that busy timelines can lead to missed photos. Having a spacious wedding timeline allows your photographer to capture details with precision. It also allows more opportunities for authentic candid shots. For Stacy and Mario, there was ample time to get the classic detail photos at all points of the day, from the invitation and ceremony space to the reception venue.

wedding photography on film of snow and bouquet
Beer Trolley for cocktail hour
Stacy gets out of the Beer Trolly

5. You can give yourself room to breathe.

Yes, weddings can be stressful. With a generous wedding timeline, though, they don’t have to be. You can’t control everything that comes up on your wedding day, but you can control how you set up the timeline. Build in time to breathe and relax. Stacy and Mario did an amazing job at this. There were several pockets of quiet time built into their day. They could step back, be together, and relax – even during a West Michigan snowstorm!

wedding timeline includes wedding party portraits
Snowy portraits wedding timeline
wedding timeline, couple walks on bridge

A Sample Wedding Timeline

Are you wondering what Stacy and Mario’s wedding timeline looked like to make all of this possible? Check it out below! You’ll notice some big windows for the couple’s portraits, family portraits, Beer Trolley, and cocktail hour. These made all the difference in getting the most amazing photos of the day. Just having the time built into the day allowed everyone to relax and be in the moment. It was also much easier to switch between digital and film.

wedding timeline with a first dance
colorful appetizers at the reception
cake details with cats

12:00 PM Photographer arrival time, getting ready photos, Stacy into dress

12:30 PM – 1:00 PM Bridal getting ready with first look 

1:00 PM Mario in place for First Look 

1:10 PM First Look

1:10 PM – 1:50: Couples’ Portraits!

1:50 – 2:15 PM Wedding Party Photos (Full and Groups) 

2:15 PM Doors open for Ceremony 

2:30 PM Ceremony

3:00 – 4:00 PM: Family Portraits

4:00 Out of Greenhouse

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Beer Trolley

5:00 PM Cocktail hour

5:55 PM Reception entrances

6:00 PM – 10:00 PM: Reception

8:00 PM: Photographer leaves

wedding timeline with cake cutting
wedding timeline with wedding photography on film
a close up of the cake in the couple's hands
wedding timeline couple laughing

Are you interested in having me photograph your intimate wedding? I am happy to help you figure out a timeline that helps you feel good and get authentic images. Reach out, and let’s chat!

Thank you to all the vendors who made Stacy and Mario’s wedding day possible:

Hair: Morgan Rose

Makeup: Katie Marble

Caterer: Tacos El Cunado

Cocktail hour food: Apertivo

DJ: Scott Cressy with Prestige Sound and Entertainment

Venue: Downtown Market

Officiant: Tom Hamel with My West Michigan Wedding

Florist: Rachel with Eastern Floral

Cake: Cakabakery

Transportation: Grand Rapids Beer Trolley

Photo Booth: Box 6.23

Invitations and Signs: BH Designs 

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