Google+ Emily Plans a Wedding: Wedding Day Details - Southern Weddings

Southern Weddings

Hi, friends! As some of you may know, John’s sister is getting married this weekend!! (Whoo!) There’s much excitement in the air, as well as a flurry of last-minute details (though thankfully, everything is well-organized and under control!). All the buzz has made me think about the flow on my and John’s actual wedding day, and so today, I thought I’d lump a few topics under one post: portraits, timeline, first look, and day-of coordinator. I know some of y’all have had questions about the decisions we’ve made in these areas, so I hope this post is helpful!

Let’s talk timeline first. My best recommendation? Start this early, and add times and details as you confirm them throughout your engagement. I probably made version 1.0 of our timeline eight months ago. It’s since changed many times, and it’s not finalized yet, but it helps to have at least a skeleton of a schedule to refer to when you’re making decisions. Start with the most basic building blocks: When do you have to vacate your venue? When does your ceremony begin? Your vendors will likely help you out as you begin to fill in the details – i.e. your photographer should let you know how long she or he needs for portraits, your hair and makeup people should let you know how long it will take them to prettify the list you provide. If they don’t offer this info, ask! As in most things, never assume you’re on the same page about how things will run – always confirm. One more tip? ALWAYS over estimate how long things will take, especially moving groups of people from one place to another.

Our timeline for September 15 starts at 8:30am, which is when my Mom, sisters, and I will leave our house and head to the hotel where we’ll get ready. From 9:30am to 1pm Tia will be working her hair and makeup magic on my, my bridesmaids, and my Mom. I plan to write more about this part of the morning in a future Emily Plans a Wedding post, so we’ll leave it at that for now! Here’s a peek at the beginnings of our timeline – just a simple Word doc!

At 1:45, I, my bridesmaids, and my immediate family members will have arrived at our portrait location. We’ll cycle through a variety of different groupings while we await the rest of our party. At 2:15, John, his gents, and the rest of his immediate family will have arrived at our portrait location. At this point, we’ll set up our first look.

I use the term “set up” loosely, as I am really not a fan of the elaborately staged first look. In fact, the only thing I really care about is that it is as private as possible. Of course, our photographers (2) and videographers (2) will be in the vicinity, but other than that, we’d like it to be as private as possible. (I know some folks have their bridal parties or families in on the action, and truly, I don’t really care if they’re watching as long as I don’t know they’re watching.) I also really don’t like the whole “tapping on the shoulder” thing, so, depending on what Tanja thinks, we’ll probably just have John waiting, facing the direction I’ll be approaching from, and I’ll walk around the corner towards him. I might start running :)

He & She Photography

Why did we choose to do a first look? The decision was largely based on logistics. We have large families, and we wanted to make sure we had enough time to get all of the important groupings in good light, with minimal stress, and without cramping Tanja’s style. Also? As I’ve mentioned before, I know John is going to be pretty darn nervous on the morning of our wedding, and I think it would be best to vent at least a little of the emotion pre-ceremony so that we can both be present and enjoy it once we’re in the church. It’s not the right choice for everyone, but I believe it is for us!

Before we continue with the timeline, I’d like to mention a brief aside about large group portraits. They’re kind of my thing. As you may recall, a knack for effortless, natural posing was one of my top three critera when it came to choosing our photographer. I love to pin favorite portraits, and some of the photos from my sister’s wedding are some of my lifetime favorites. Because really, though I love the details as much as anyone else, the portraits are what you’ll treasure for the rest of your life, am I right? On that note, here are a few of my favorites:

From top to bottom: Jessica Monnich, Adam Barnes, Tanja Lippert, Adam Barnes

Clearly Tanja is a master at this stuff, so I have no doubt we’ll get exactly what we want. If you’re concerned about your photographer and/or your family members being comfortable with something like this, here are my two best tips: squeeze in much closer than you think is necessary, and make sure people are touching at different points and in different ways – a hand on an elbow there, an interlocked arm there. For more, I really enjoyed this post on relaxed family portraits by photographer Caroline Joy.

But back to the timeline! We’ve allotted an hour for family portraits, and with travel time, we expect to arrive at the chapel at 4pm. At 4:30, our ceremony will begin. Because of all the things we’re planning on packing into our ceremony (see here + here!), we expect it will last about 40 minutes.

We will not be doing a receiving line at the church, and our plan is to basically walk directly out of the church, into our waiting car, and hightail it to the reception location so that Tanja can work her photo magic on the details before our guests arrive at the cocktail hour. Once she’s finished up what she needs to do, we’ll take portraits for approximately half an hour, and then we’ll join our guests for the last half of cocktail hour.

Tanja Lippert. Squeal!!

Our cocktail hour and reception spaces are distinct, so at 6:30, we’ll welcome our guests into the reception tent. We are doing a “grand entrance” with our full bridal party (one of the only things we’ve definitely picked out a song for!), and then we’ll move directly into our first dance from there. Immediately after our first dance my Dad will give his toast, and then the “first course” will be served (for more about our food choices, check out this post!). About an hour later, we’ll cut back in to do our best man and sibling toasts, John and I will speak briefly, and then we’ll do the father daughter/mother son dance before opening up the floor for dancing. After that the only other interruption will be when we cut the cake and share our slideshow, likely around 8:45. Our exit will be at 11pm.

So clearly I’ve thought about this timeline thing. But on the day of the wedding? I don’t want to be thinking about this timeline thing. And that’s where Diana comes in. Diana works with my friend Candice at Jubilee Events, an awesome wedding planning and event design company in Connecticut. Diana is our day-of coordinator, and I’m so grateful that I’ll be able to hand over the reins to someone so competent, kind, and resourceful come September! A planner or coordinator is not in every budget, but I would highly recommend making room for one if you can, and if not, at least arranging a handpicked family member or friend to be the point person on the day of your wedding. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, you want to be able to enjoy your wedding day instead of stressing over whether everything is getting set up correctly and whether little details are being taken care of! I think a day-of coordinator or planner is also a gift to your family and friends – both because you’ll be less stressed, and because it will allow them to relax, as well. A win win!

I think that about wraps things up for this week, friends! Any questions about our timeline or how things will run on our wedding day, just ask!

In case you missed a post…
The main characters | Where we’re getting married | I go dress shopping | We choose a photographer | I ponder bridesmaid style | Mini food! | The music | We’re renting a tent! | We discuss bouquets + boutonnieres | We send out our save the dates | I gather hair and makeup inspiration | We talk cake and sweets | I introduce you to our videographer | We create a registry | We buy a tuxedo | We style a reception | I choose accessories | We take engagement photos! | We plan our ceremony | We discuss ceremony music and readings

Adam Barnes is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Melissa Vause reply

    Agghh! This post puts me in a panic haha I thought I had accomplished alot in the planning process already, but I have yet to develop v1.0 of the timeline! Luckily, the last vendor we’ve booked is a day-of planner so hopefully this will come together soon. There’s apparently so much left to do before December!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Melissa! No need to panic :) You’ve definitely still got time before December, and your day of coordinator will help with your timeline! Good luck with the rest of your plans!!

  2. avatar Lauren Townes reply

    Emily, reading your timeline makes me feel exhausted! After 1’o’clock it takes off lol. I haven’t 100% committed to a first look yet, but I’m leaning towards it. Our ceremonies start at the same time so I’m wondering if we’ll have similar timelines! Thankfully I’m getting ready at home, however, so I can catch a few extra minutes of shut eye before it all begins!

    • avatar Emily reply

      I totally know what you mean, Lauren! The morning of the wedding is usually so calm and relaxed, and then it just gets to the point when you’re on the current and there’s no stopping it :)

  3. avatar Louise reply


    I am reading this post in ‘real time’… and it’s giving me goosebumps!

    I’ve been pouring through pages and pages of SW blog over the past few months, as I prepare for my wedding in November. I typically go to the posting for the day via Facebook or look for a specific topic depending on what my agenda is for the day. But, after reading your ‘sign off’ post the other day, I started to go through your ‘Emily Plans a Wedding’ Series more specifically (which is not only such a great resource, getting planning tips from an in-action bride, but I feel like I have someone real to relate to!).

    But back to your timeline post… I was reading this one on your actual wedding DAY which is so exciting!! Reading how and why you and John are doing a first look gave me goosebumps as it was, but when I looked at my clock and realized it was 2:15, I got butterflies in MY stomach! This is partially for the reasons I mentioned above of being able to relate to a current bride (and the happiness and excitement that exuded from you talking about running to him and him being nervous about seeing you), but also because I imagine me and my fiance at this stage of our wedding day.

    I am excited to get to that point in our day in November, and I thank you for sharing all of the details along the way of planning your day out, but specifically for sharing this post, because it has helped me (and made me excited) the most! We both also have large families – I’m one of 11 children and he’s one of 6, so talk about a large, Southern wedding! – and I hadn’t thought about the first look in light of taking our pictures before. I’ve always thought of it as something special for us to do but never felt I could ‘justify’ it, because of our family’s strong history of traditions. And first looks are not one of them). Now, I feel like we could have our special moment – which as you mentioned, will likely result in me running to him and him dispelling some of his nerves! – AND get the majority of our family pictures taken beforehand (we’re doing a 7pm ceremony, so by the time it’s over, it’ll be at least 8:15, so a long stint of pictures isn’t exactly super appealing).

    Anyway, I hope your wedding was everything y’all have hoped and planned for. Thank you for sharing!!! Even with version 1.0, it was the perfect resource.


  4. avatar 10-tips-for-working-with-your-wedding-photographer | Southern Productions reply

    […] Create a generous timeline. I spoke about this a bit here, but if photographs are important to you, build in as much time as possible for them.  Generally […]

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

Reply to: