Wedding Planning 101: Building a Timeline

One of the most common questions we get from our couples is "How should we plan out the day-of?"  Setting your timeline for the day can be super stressful for you!  We get it!  You've probably attended tons of weddings, been in a few,'ve maybe had one or two yourself. ;)  But setting the time and flow of the day can be confusing...and you just get to a point where you start telling family, friends, and vendors "I don't know...just show up".

omaha wedding photographers_timeline

Did you know that your longest "vendor relationship" is with your photographer?

We're booked with you months (sometimes years) in advance, we're with you nearly all day, and we're with you up to a month or more AFTER the wedding (edits, albums, and orders pending).  Lucky for you, you get these crazy girls for a LOOOOONG time.  ;)  So what's that mean?  We shoot a lot of weddings, we're there for a long time, and we could nearly shoot a wedding blindfolded at this point.  Basically, we're timeline experts.  Nearly all wedding photographers that have years of experience under their belt are.  Utilize us/them!  We've seen it all!  Flowers that arrive after the ceremony?  Seen it.  An ushers tux locked in their car at a casino...but they can't find their car?  Seen it.  Bridesmaid forgot her underwear?  Seen it.  Groom wrecked the car on the way to the wedding?  Seen it.  Scheduled portrait time location explodes?  Seen it.  Party bus lost their keys?  Seen it.

omaha wedding photographer_ms pub

Things to consider when building your timeline, that nobody mentioned on a cute, whimsical, wedding planning blog:

1. Something 100% WILL go wrong/awry/wonky/unplanned.  See above. 

Yes.  Something absolutely will go wrong or unplanned.  This will either cause your timeline to run a little behind or, if things got super weird, will make your timeline run ahead of schedule.  The good news: you'll still get married.  Give yourself a little cushioning in time and it'll be just fine.  The extra good news:  When things go wrong or something doesn't go as planned, it creates emotion, reaction, and moments.  And you know what we love?  All those things.  So when they day gets cray, just remember...Janine and McKenzie are loving this.

omaha wedding photography_wedding fails

2.  Bridesmaids take a long time to get ready.

This is one of those hard truths.  We have the absolute best bridal attendants ever in the history of bridal attendants.  They're babes, kind, hilarious, and sometimes meticulous in their hair and makeup.   9 times out of 10, the bridesmaids take longer getting ready than the bride.  We're not really sure why, but they do.  Usually their the last ones getting their hair and makeup done since the bride went first at 6am or something crazy like that...or they're running errands for the bride, or whatever.  Just know that they take extra time, and plan to have them ready to roll by the time you have your first look if you're having one.  Also remember that they generally have a lot of things to carry post-ceremony.  Streamlining their jobs (haul bags, grab flowers, where's my lipgloss?, pack the cooler) after the wedding gets them on your party bus faster and dancing into the night.

omaha wedding photographer_bridesmaids

3.  Confession is at what time?!

Yep.  Confession.  MANY, many, many Catholic churches in Omaha host Confession at 3:30pm on Saturdays.  "But my wedding is at 2:00," you say.  Exactly.  So if your wedding is at 2:00pm and you do a full Mass ceremony, you're not kissing and processional-ing down that aisle until 3:00pm.  Then we ask:
How are your guests exiting the church?
Formal receiving line in the back of the church?
Greeted by you, aisle by aisle?
On their own?  Bye Felicia.

This is important to know because each one of these options takes a different amount of time.  A formal receiving line can take 20 minutes or more.  By the time you've held everyones hand and hugged in out, it's nearly 3:20.  If we've done formal photos prior to your ceremony, no problem.  Hug your thing!  Greeting your guests aisle by aisle takes the most time.  We agree that it's lovely to see everyone's face individually to thank them and visit, but it adds the most time to your exit strategy.  This will get you to 3:30 without a doubt and we'll be kicked out as Confession is starting...and if we haven't done formal photos, we'll have to Plan B or C it.  We're 100% cool with this, just keep your entire family in mind.

omaha wedding venues

4. Travel time/Parking Time

Keep in mind that several of our weddings take place in 3-5 locations.  Where the bride gets ready, the groom, the ceremony site, a possible portrait location, and a reception site.  Unless we can fund a teleportation device TODAY (pretty please), it takes time to get from A, to B, C, D...whatever...and then to park there.  For example, you're getting ready at the Embassy Suites in Lavista...waaaaaay out there.  And then you're getting married at Sacred Heart.  That drive is going to take you 30 minutes.  From there, you want portraits downtown...but the College World Series is going on and there's no place to park...and then you're going to the Paxton Ballroom to have an amazing evening.  Basically, just prepare yourself for driving, transportation, and parking time.

omaha wedding photographer_ollie the trollie

5.  We do the eating.  We do the toasting.  We do the dancing.

Once cocktail hour is over and dinner is served, your favorite Omaha wedding DJ is going to have you mingle for a little while.  You'll go cut your delicious wedding cake, hear your best friends say hilarious and endearing things about you, and you'll sob your way through your first dances.  Generally speaking, the eating, caking, toasting, and dancing is accomplished within the first 2-2.5 hours of your reception.  Our biggest piece of advice is to communicate with your DJ that you'd like to keep your "formal events" rolling so your guests can enjoy the rest of the evening with you.  Just remember that the longer your guests have to wait around to get on that dance floor, the less of them there will be.

omaha wedding photography_wedding reception

Can we see an example?

Sure...we'll give you two.

Our 1st example/scenario, that's pretty standard.

10 hour contract
Getting ready location:  The church in Midtown Omaha.
Ceremony location: The church in Midtown Omaha.
Ceremony time: 2:00...must be out at 3:30.
Family formals: Before the Ceremony
Reception location: Downtown
Cocktail Hour: 4:30-5:30
Dinner Served: 6:00

11:00 photographers arrive for bridal prep
12:15 bride in dress
12:30 couple first look / bridal party ready
12:40 family formals and bridal party formals
1:15 done with all formal photos
2:00 ceremony
3:00 ceremony ends
3:30 board party bus for portraits
3:45 arrive at portrait location
4:30 done with bridal party portraits and couple portraits
- Couple and party cruises on bus, or goes to bar, or goes to cocktail hour
5:15 bridal party arrives to reception location
5:45 bridal party announced into reception
6:00 dinner
7:00 cut cake
7:15 toasts
7:30 first dances
8:00 dance, dance, dance, party, party, party
9:00 photographers done with blackmail photos

Our 2st example/scenario, that's pretty standard.

8 hour contract
Getting ready location:  A hotel in Midtown Omaha.
Ceremony location: A church in Midtown Omaha.
Ceremony time: 4:00...can be out whenever.
Family formals: After the Ceremony
Reception location: Downtown
Cocktail Hour: 5:30-6:30
Dinner Served: 7:00

1:30 photographers arrive for bridal prep
2:45 leave hotel for church
3:00 bridal party arrives at church
4:00 ceremony
4:45 ceremony ends
5:00 immediately go into family formals and bridal party formals
5:30 done with formals
6:00 arrive at portrait location
6:30 done with bridal party portraits and couple portraits
6:50 bridal party arrives to reception location
7:00 bridal party announced into reception
7:00 dinner
8:00 cut cake
8:15 toasts
8:30 first dances
9:00 dance, dance, dance, party, party, party
9:30 photographers done with blackmail photos

Do you need help with your wedding timeline?  Let us know!  We'd be happy to help!

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