Tips for the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

As you plan your dream wedding, you are no doubt thinking a lot about every little detail. We know from our time as DC wedding photographers that nothing is too insignificant when everything needs to be perfect. You and your future spouse will discuss the colors of the decorations and the music playlist. You’ll mull over (and repeatedly revise!) the order of your family formal portraits and who’s sitting where at the reception. Chances are, you’l even spend hours picking out the exact right font for your save the date cards! Naturally, you will also go over and over your wedding day timeline to make sure that it includes everything you want to do. You do all of this to ensure that your marriage celebrations are exactly as you’ve always dreamed they would be.

Planning a Wedding You’ll Love

We’re betting, though, that no matter how detail-oriented you are, you’re still forgetting one thing. Something that matters a whole lot — maybe more than anything else. As you’re planning your wedding day timeline, are you making sure that you’re going to enjoy your nuptials?

Unfortunately, it happens far too often. The very people who a wedding is celebrating — the couple — don’t have much fun at it. Sometimes it’s the stress that gets them. They worry so much about everything being perfect that they can’t relax as it’s happening. Other times it’s coming in with the expectation that nothing should go wrong. Then a couple of things don’t go exactly as planned, and the couple snaps. In other cases, it’s the constant rushing from one thing to the next. The couple wants to do too much on their wedding day. Then they are so busy running around that they miss out on all the fun parts.

 Things to include in your wedding day timeline are bride and groom portraits. This couple took their photos outdoors at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in downtown DC by Potok’s World Photography.

Five Easy Steps Toward a Stress-Free Wedding Day Timeline 

It is sad it when couples don’t seem to be enjoying their wedding. It is a celebration, after all. And it really should be one of the happiest days of your life. So you should love every bit of the experience! Your Washington DC wedding photographer is going to aim to take pictures of you having a blast, not looking and feeling stressed out.

Fortunately, there are some very simple things you can do to make sure that you will enjoy your wedding day. A couple of small tweaks to your wedding day timeline, and you will avoid the pitfalls that can make a marriage celebration stressful. Here’s what we would recommend.

Leave Extra Time in the Schedule…

The most common cause of a stressful wedding is packing the schedule too tightly. Look, we get it. You only get one chance to have a dream wedding. So naturally, you’re going to want to make sure your  wedding day timeline includes everything that you might want to do on that day. Because you’d hate to miss out on something, right?

The problem is that a tightly packed timeline leaves you little room for error. If the smallest thing goes wrong, everything can fall apart. You’ll be late for one thing, then another and then another. You’ll be constantly worrying about getting back on schedule. And that is a recipe for being stressed at your wedding.

Building a Stress-Free Wedding Day Timeline

The best way to avoid this? Resist the urge to do too much on your wedding day. Think about each activity and element very carefully. Ask yourself three times how necessary each one is before adding it to the schedule. Consider whether you will really miss each of them if you don’t do it.

Does reading that make you worry that you could end up with too much downtime on your wedding day? Please don’t. If everything goes exactly as planned and you end up with some extra time on your hands, you won’t regret it. It will give you a chance to breathe, recenter yourself and remember what you’re there to do in the first place.

 Wedding day timeline: Bride sitting in a car in front of the church reading a letter from the groom in Colonial Williamsburg Virginia by DC wedding photographer Potok's World Photography

…Especially for Alone Time…

Having some extra time will leave room for something everyone (and we mean everyone) forgets to include in their wedding day timeline. We’re talking about some time for you and your future spouse to enjoy being married! As they plan their wedding, most couples don’t realize that they won’t be spending a lot of time together on the day of.

Think about it for a second. You will most likely be getting ready separately. Then you will come together for the ceremony. From there, you’ll go straight into family formals and then couples portraits. After that comes the reception. Will the two of you be alone at any point during that time? Just the couples portraits, right? The entire rest of the day, you will either be separated or surrounded by other people. And during those times, you won’t be able to enjoy any private time with your soulmate.

Some extra padding in your schedule will increase the chances that you can spend a few minutes just enjoying being a married couple. Without family or friends pulling your attention away from each other. Without the pressures of a wedding day intruding on those moments. And without anything to worry about. 

Wedding day timelime: Picture of a bride and groom holding hands at Bluemont Vineyard in Virginia by DC wedding photographer Potok's World Photography

…And for Spending Time with Those Closest to You

Extra time in your wedding day timeline will also free you up to enjoy some moments with your family and friends. Which is another thing that is in short supply during a marriage celebration. Sure, you’ll get some time with them as you’re getting ready. But your thoughts will likely be elsewhere. You’ll probably be worrying about how your makeup is looking or thinking about seeing your future spouse waiting for you at the end of the aisle. You will be there physically, but not as emotionally present as you might like.

Wedding day timeline: Father daughter moment at L2 Lounge in Georgetown by DC wedding photographer Potok's World Photography

After the ceremony, though, you’ll be much more relaxed and able to savor the moments you spend with those closest to you. Provided you have the time for it, of course! If you pad your schedule a bit, you are more likely to have time for an extra-long limo ride (and maybe another champagne toast!) with your wedding party after the ceremony. Or maybe you’ll have a few extra minutes to take some really goofy formal pictures with your bridesmaids. Or perhaps you’ll get to spend a little more time hanging out with your dad at the reception.

Wedding day timeline: Funny picture of bride with bridesmaids with props at Bluemont Vineyard in Virginia by DC wedding photographer Potok's World Photography

Do as Much Before the Ceremony as You Can…

One way to ensure that you have a lighter schedule and that your day gets more enjoyable as it goes on is to try to frontload your wedding day timeline as much as possible. What do we mean by that? Basically, schedule as many things prior to the ceremony time will allow. For example, if you can do your family formals and couples portraits before tying the knot, do it. Why? Because if you get those things out of the way early on, you’ll be more able to relax and enjoy your wedding later. Think of those parts of your wedding day as items on a to-do list. Every one that you can check off is one less thing you need to worry about. And once you complete all of them, you can go back to having fun.

Now we realize that this might not be feasible given the specifics of your particular wedding day timeline. If you and your future spouse are not seeing one another until the ceremony, then obviously couples portraits beforehand are out. As are most of the family formals. But if you’re doing a first look prior to exchanging your vows, then it is very easy to just continue on to the couples portraits.

Wedding day timeline: Bride and groom portraits at Baltimore's Inner Harbor by DC wedding photographer Potok's World Photography

…But Avoid Putting Important Things at the Beginning or End

One thing that can cause stress for couples planning a wedding is a fear of not getting important moments captured on film. It’s a very understandable concern — especially to DC wedding photographers like us! Truth be told, it’s probably more of a worry before and after your nuptials than something you’ll sweat on the day of. But stress is stress, right? And minimizing it should always be your goal.

As much as you might like to have your wedding photographers around for every single minute of your marriage celebrations, that might not be possible in practice. That can create a situation in which there is no one around with a camera to document important happenings at the beginning or end of your day. And that can lead to you missing out on preserving some really beautiful memories on film.

The solution? Share your wedding day timeline with your DC wedding photographers early in the process. Tell them everything that you want to have captured on film. See if there is anything important that could take place when they aren’t there. If there are, consider moving them later or earlier. For example, perhaps you can hold off on opening gifts from your future spouse until you are almost ready for the ceremony. Similarly, you can try to schedule any special dances during the earlier portions of your reception.

Wedding day timeline: Special dance by bride for groom during wedding reception at 101 Constitution by DC wedding photographer Potok's World Photography

Photos of Your Wedding Exit

Of course, there might still be some things that you can’t move around. If you’re doing a sparkler or bubble exit from your reception, that is going to have to take place at the end of the day. Ideally, your Washington DC wedding photographer will be able to document that for you. But if not, don’t sweat it too much. You’re still going to get a lot of photos that you’ll love!

Wedding day timeline: LGBTQ couple dancing during wedding reception at Algonkian Golf Club by DC wedding photographers of Potok's World Photography

Contact Us for More Information!

We hope that you enjoyed this glimpse of what your own wedding photo gallery will look like if you book us. We also hope it has piqued your interest about our services! For our part, we can’t wait to hear more about what you have planned for your big day! So go ahead and send us a message here.

Planning a destination wedding? No problem! Though we are based in Washington DC, we often travel for weddings and engagement sessions. That has taken us to countries in Asia, Europe and various cities within the US.

Wedding day timeline: Bride dancing during destination wedding Punta Cana beach wedding by DC wedding photographer Potok's World Photography