Stephen Mayo, owner of BOLI Preferred Vendor Stephen Mayo Photography, believes your enjoyment and peace of mind comes down to one factor – your wedding day timeline
When we think of a wedding day, our mental highlight reel includes all the fun parts – the killer moves on the dance floor, the heartfelt speeches from friends and family, and that very first kiss as a newly-married couple.
But what we often tend to forget is that behind all those beautiful moments is months of planning and preparation, leading all the way up to (and even after) your walk down the aisle. For all the parts and pieces of your wedding to work, you’ll need a solid wedding day timeline.
Stephen Mayo, owner of BOLI Preferred Vendor Stephen Mayo Photography, knows this firsthand. He’s seen the easy flow of a wedding day when a specific schedule is kept, and the rushed, stressful response when a practical timeline is absent.
Why your wedding day timeline is important
“Your wedding day timeline is crucial,” Stephen says. “I think it’s one of the most important factors when it comes to a couple enjoying their day.”
What happens when a well-planned agenda isn’t in place? “When things are rushed, it tends to raise the stress level,” he explains further. “Planning enough time for pictures while also having realistic expectations for how long things take is the difference between enjoying your wedding day and managing your wedding day.”
What’s a realistic wedding day timeline?
Making a wedding day timeline is one thing, and making sure it’s feasible is another. Knowing what to expect can be a challenge, but when it comes to your pictures, Stephen always breaks down a realistic schedule for his brides.
“Every wedding has different needs, but for most weddings, there are two parts of the day where there is quite a bit of time put aside for images – preparation and then portraits,” he outlines. “When I begin working with couples on planning, I start with a recommendation of 30 minutes for groom details and getting ready images, and an hour for the bride. When it comes to portraits, I generally start with a recommendation of 30 minutes for pictures with the couple, 30 minutes for family, and 30 minutes for the bridal party.”
However, it’s important to remember that there’s no “one size fits all” timeline. “There are so many variables that can change things,” Stephen clarifies. “Are you doing a first look? What’s your travel time to the venue? How many people are in your bridal party? How many family members will want portraits? How many photographers are there? I work with every couple to make recommendations, so that they can get all of the images they want while the day is structured the way they planned. Your wedding photographer can give you an expectation of how long images will take, while also helping you fit everything you want in the time you have.”
What’s the best way to make your wedding timeline work?
You’ll hear many former Brides of Long Island say the same thing – expect at least one thing to go awry on your wedding day. So how can you stay on track when that happens? “I would recommend planning for a little more time than you think you need,” Stephen advises. “Padding the timeline gives couples the opportunity to go through the day without the extra pressure. I see the day fall behind schedule when couples try for a timeline that may be too aggressive.”
What happens when your day is rushed?
If there’s one thing you can’t get back in life, it’s time. And when time is running short on your wedding day, something has to be sacrificed. As Stephen explains, that “something” is usually your pictures.
“The time built in for photography is the only circuit breaker in the day,” he says. “If, for example, a couple puts aside 2 hours for images at an outdoor location, and then for whatever reason things are running behind and everyone arrives 45 minutes later than anticipated, we can’t leave that location later. The time for photos will have to be shortened. This can be a bigger concern depending on the circumstances – if you have 2 hours before your ceremony, you can likely make up some of the time just by moving a little more quickly. But if you only have 30 minutes after the ceremony while guests are at the cocktail hour, any delay probably cannot be made up.”
What do photographers do when time is of the essence? “Generally, we’ll likely focus on the must-haves,” Stephen describes. “Wedding photographers are very good at working quickly and working under pressure, but with less time, there are just fewer images. The couple knows that there’s less time, and then they worry. I want the couples I work with to be in the moment and enjoying their day, and not stressing about time or worrying about images they’re not getting because they don’t have the time to take them.”
Unfortunately, the stress of running behind often reveals itself in the pictures. “I can tell when the bride feels rushed or nervous. That’s what she’s likely going to remember when she looks at the images – feeling stressed about fitting everything in.”
- MORE: “I’m Client-Obsessed.” Stephen Mayo Photography Tells the Story of Your Wedding With a Boutique-level Experience
Should you hire a wedding planner or day-of coordinator?
If it’s in your budget, a wedding planner or day-of coordinator can be the driver of your timeline. “Working with a wedding planner or day-of coordinator tends to make the entire day run smoothly,” Stephen suggests. “Without a coordinator, the role is often delegated to a friend or someone in the bridal party. But in my experience, the bride is then often checking up on that person. A wedding coordinator will take all of that concern away.”