Every single wedding is different. Even after more than 200 weddings, I have never been to two that are exactly alike. And that's how it should be! Your wedding will be a distinct reflection of you and your fiancé, your style, your families, your priorities. But when you combine the uniqueness of your wedding with all of the moving parts that most weddings involve ... well, it can make planning the schedule for your day pretty darn complicated. That's why I ALWAYS recommend hiring an experienced wedding planner to help you along the way.

But whether you hire a planner or tackle the wedding planning yourself, you'll have a lot of input into the schedule for your wedding. Here are ten things to consider, so you can create a schedule that is perfectly suited for your one-of-a-kind day:

1. Discuss your wedding vibe
The nitty-gritty of theming and accessories can wait, but what SHOULDN'T wait is talking to your fiancé about the general kind of wedding you're both envisioning. Along with impacting most other wedding decisions (from venue to décor), this will also affect the schedule of your wedding day. For example, if you want a low-key, fun wedding where all of the children in the family play lawn games, then you will probably want the festivities to take place earlier in the day. Whereas if you are dreaming of a sparkly, black-tie gala wedding, you will likely find an evening wedding more appealing.

2. Think about the weather
Weather is one thing you can't control, but you should definitely think about! Where I live in Phoenix, 'weather' nearly always means heat. For much of the year, the heat is a major consideration for comfort and even safety. So when clients here want to have an outdoor wedding in the warmer months, they may need to look into a morning wedding with a brunch reception to miss the afternoon heat. Where you live, you may need to contend with regular fog, rain, wind or snow that might make one part of the day a consistently better option.

3. Consider the light
As a photographer, this is a huge one for me ... so huge that I wrote a whole blog post about it! The light will have some impact on the way you and your guests enjoy your wedding day, but it will have a MAJOR impact on the wedding photos that you use to remember your day for years to come. So consider the light and let it inform your wedding day timeline!

4. Calculate how long it will take to get ready
Hint: It's going to take way longer than usual! Discuss the timeline for hair, makeup, and getting dressed with your stylists so that you have a more accurate impression of how long this will take. And remember that if your bridesmaids or family members are getting styled along with you, their getting ready time will need to be taken into account, as well.

5. Estimate travel times
If you will be staying at one venue throughout your day, this isn't a big issue. But if you will be moving between venues, you need to include that time (plus a buffer for traffic, parking, and finagling a giant wedding dress in and out of the car) in your schedule, and also think about how it will influence other aspects of the day. For example, I offer 8 hours of wedding day coverage standard in my packages, but if an hour of that is spent traveling from the getting ready space to the ceremony and the ceremony to the reception venue, that influences how much time is available to photograph portraits, details, and special moments.

6. Determine whether you will see one another before the ceremony
It's no secret that I'm an advocate of the first look -- that private time before the ceremony when the bride & groom see one another. For me, there are so many benefits to having a first look that I always hope my clients will choose to go this route. But for many couples, this is a really personal and meaningful decision. So talk it over and decide whether a first look is right for you!

7. Budget enough time for portraits
In this age of quick selfies, it can be difficult to comprehend how much time portraits take! Personally I like to have at least an hour to photograph the bride & groom, half an hour with the bridal party, and another half an hour for family portraits. This gives me time for about ten family portrait groupings. When my clients have a more extensive list of family portrait groupings that they would like, I always suggest that we add more time to that part of the day to ensure that we're able to accomplish all of those portraits.

8. Include time to socialize
Your loved ones will be coming together to be part of your wedding day, and chances are, you will want to spend some time with them! On such a busy day, that can be harder than it sounds! So think about what parts of your day allow you to be social. The getting ready time can be a great chance to connect with your wedding party. If you finish all of your portraits before the ceremony, you will be able to spend cocktail hour celebrating with your guests. And look at the schedule for the reception to see if it allows you time to talk and dance between toasts, cake cutting, and throwing the bouquet. It might seem odd to pencil in time to interact with your guests, but you'll be so gad you did when you have those memories to look back on!

9. Include some wiggle room
Life is unpredictable, and weddings are chock-full of life! So try to include a little extra "padding" in your schedule. That way if one aspect of your day runs a bit late, it won't have a domino effect on the rest of the schedule. You'll be amazed at what a difference that extra time can make to your state of mind; you'll feel so much calmer if any hiccups do occur!

10. Grant yourselves some privacy
When it comes down to it, your wedding is about you and your fiancé vowing your lives to one another. But I've heard from many couples that they barely had a chance to speak to their brand new husband or wife on their wedding day! So try to set aside some time with just the two of you! Many of my clients use their first look and bride & groom portraits this way, laughing together as I photograph them. But even if you don't do a first look, try to include some quiet time after the ceremony to BE together and realize that you're really married.

-----------> I know I've given you a lot to consider, but I also have a starting point for your to build from! Click here to take a quick 2-question quiz, and we will email you back with an ideal preliminary timeline based on the sunset time on your wedding day as well as whether or not you would like to do a first look! Then you can apply all of the considerations above to create a schedule for your wedding day that is just right for you and your fiancé!
Ideal Wedding Day Timeline Quiz
Ten things that will impact your wedding day schedule
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