The Two Things that Throw off Your Wedding Timeline

May 18, 2022

I’ve seen many wedding day hiccups…both small and large. Many of them, you as a bride never even find out about. Family and friends fill in the gaps, make a quick errand, and don’t even tell you about it. They notice something and act. It’s always touching to see all the care and kindness unfold. And honestly, most of these hiccups are not timeline busters and the day gets back on track.

But yes, weddings can go late. The good news is there are really only two things that will really throw off your wedding day timeline. And both of them can be mitigated with good planning.

Hair and Make-up

By far, the biggest timeline buster is Hair and Make-up going late! HAMU must be done before so many other things can happen. In the business world they call this critical path. Some parts of a schedule can always be adjusted and move around without much impact, but critical path has to be done before the schedule can progress.

On a wedding day, HAMU is critical path!

So much of the pre-ceremony activity requires HAMU to be complete. Robe photos, wedding dress moments with mom, first look with Dad or Groom, a moment of quiet reflection before the ceremony, the formal bridesmaid portraits…you get the idea!

So if you want to keep that wedding on-time and stress-free then plan to get the HAMU right!

You might be tempted to think a lot of this falls on the HAMU artist. But there is a little more to it. And this is where good planning comes in!

  1. Start by allowing enough time for hair and make-up. Work WITH your HAMU artist, have a timeline discussion with them, and respect their timeline estimates!
  2. Start on time. That means you should be in the chair at the designated time. Offload any other concerns or responsibilities to someone else! Once you are in the chair, you need to switch off wedding coordinator mode and get into joyful bride mode!
  3. Make sure your HAMU team is large enough to support your entire bridal party. Large bridal parties are amazing, but they require enough experienced artists to have everyone ready on time!

Family Portraits

Family Portraits have the potential to be a spark of unpleasantness and a kick-start to frustrations.

It shouldn’t be that way. So let’s break down how family photos can go off track.

Family photos happen right after the ceremony. You (and everyone else) have just had a massive rush of emotions and all the chemical overload that comes with it. Some are elated and giving hugs and talking excitedly with family they are so happy to see!

You, your groom and the bridal party are usually a little fatigued from standing and everyone is starting to get thirsty in the heat. The Bride’s family is starting their family groupings, but someone realizes Uncle George is missing. A runner is dispatched to get him. The photog skips that photo set and starts reorganizing the group. Transitioning groups is starts taking too long as people aren’t sure what do…and some missed their name being called.

Little nieces that started out so well are now looking to be out of here!

Some family members were pulled out of the photo set and then wandered off not knowing they were needed again in the next photo grouping.

It’s been 40 minutes and family photos is dragging down the timeline and turned into a bit of a mood killer.

Oh, and we still have full bridal party and bride and groom photos yet to do.

So with a little bit of chaos mixed with some fatigue, you have a recipe for frustration and bad attitudes to surface.

Does that sound like how you want to spend your first moments as wedded couple? Certainly not!

The Solution

So here is what I can promise you. If you can follow my family photo planning tips…I can have family photos done in 15 minutes. Both sides. They will be done smoothly, efficiently and with a few light-hearted jokes.

In fact, I have a dedicated blog post on my exact method for taking organized family photos. But here is the short version:

  1. Allow for a brief period after the ceremony to hug, chat and celebrate. These are beautiful, happy wedding moments so allow yourself to enjoy them! Also, use this time to open a drink cooler and allow everyone to hydrate.
  2. Prepare a shot list with FIRST names…not ‘Bride’s Sister’s family’ (this is more important than you think!)
  3. Get everybody to the family portrait location (no missing uncles!) If someone in your shot list is known to be especially chatty or the wandering type. Make sure they know how important it is to you that they are prompt for family photos.
  4. Be intentional about your group shots. Take some time BEFORE the wedding and thoughtfully approach which group shots are important to you. Neglecting this in the planning stage, usually means a ton of group shots with ALL the family combinations. And while many of them will be cherished by your family, others will have been unnecessary.
  5. Lastly, prioritize photo sets with small children and elderly family members. I promise that Ben and I will be very attentive to the needs of your family. But keep them in mind as you develop your shot list and let these special family members be the first to leave.
A happy family poses for a photo after the wedding

Things that go wrong…but don’t mess up the timeline (usually)

Are there other things that don’t go to plan on the wedding day? Yes, of course. But for the most part they are quickly recovered from and the day isn’t impacted.

Groomsmen boutonnières

White and Blue Floral Groom's Boutonniere

Where are they? I’ve seen them delivered to the wrong place. Forgotten in a car trunk. Placed on a corner table that got covered in clothes.

Make sure your florist (or helpful friend) knows where the guys are getting ready and delivers the boutonnière’s to them. And don’t drop them off on that corner table without telling anyone. Make sure at least one of the guys knows they are there!

Underestimating travel times

When your ceremony location is different than your reception site you need to add in sufficient travel time. And someone getting lost on the way does occasionally happen. But the reality is, cocktail hour is something of a shock absorber for any latecomers.

The one exception is if there are group photos being taken at the reception site. It is very time-consuming to regather a group after everyone has dispersed. That’s why I strongly recommend doing family photos immediately after the ceremony while everyone is still one place.

Anything else?

A gallery full of amazing wedding photos doesn’t just happen spontaneously. They are planned. And planning doesn’t have to be difficult. Especially if you have someone to guide you along the way.

If you are a Mary Anna Bride, then you’ll have access to more than my blog. I’ve got an entire Bridal Guide and Engagement Session Style guide that I put together to help you have a complete and joyful wedding photography experience!

Are you a Florida Bride who loves Bright, Romantic, Emotional photos? Let’s meet for coffee or chat on the phone. I’d love to hear all about your vision for your wedding day!

Here’s a few of my wedding planning blogs I think you’ll enjoy

Find out what stresses out your wedding photographer!

How I take organized family photos!

Want to know how I shoot the ceremony?




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