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10 Reasons Why Your Wedding Schedule Might Fall Behind

There are so many reasons why your wedding day schedule might fall behind it’s hard to know where to begin. But if you want to know the top 10 reasons why most brides end up stressed because their schedule isn’t going according to plan, then this article has you covered. We’ll discuss everything from redoing hair and makeup to planning an over-ambitious reception…and what you can do to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

After half a decade as a wedding photographer, I’ve experienced countless weddings running behind schedule because of a myriad of reasons. But the one thing they all have in common is that it makes couples stressed…and it’s usually the photography time that gets cut back as a result. 

Reasons Why Your Wedding Schedule Might Fall Behind

So to help you plan a wedding day schedule that isn’t going to end up in the same situation, I’m going to share with you 10 of the top reasons weddings usually run late and what you can do to prevent this from happening to you. 

1.  Hair and makeup not finishing on time.

This is by far one of the top reasons why your wedding schedule might fall behind. Perhaps the team didn’t bring enough people to finish on time or there’s been a delay with one of the bridesmaids, so the bride’s hair and makeup hasn’t even started. 

To avoid this happening, I recommend planning to have your hair and makeup done an hour before the first look is scheduled, ensuring you have plenty of time for portraits and some buffer time in case hair and makeup is running late. 

2. Having a messy getting ready room.

If you want gorgeous photos of your details and beautiful candid moments as you get ready, you’re not going to achieve this with a messy room. With a whole group of bridesmaids getting ready, plus moms and the bride herself, it’s easy for things to get out of hand. But this means an additional 10-15 minutes is wasted trying to tidy things up so the room is worthy of photos. 

No photographer wants to be bugging the bride, so we recommend you delegate an individual, such as your maid of honor, to be responsible for having your bridal details laid out and ready to go and put her in charge of maintaining control over the room.

This will not only save you time but ensure we can capture beautiful shots throughout your getting ready session. For more detailed guidance on how to make the most of your getting ready photos, check out this guide.

3. People being late and/or in the wrong place.

Whether it’s the first look, bridal party portraits or family formals, just one person not showing up when and where they need to be another reason why your wedding schedule might fall behind. Sometimes this is caused by traffic jams or situations that are out of your hand while in other cases, it’s simply because they didn’t get the memo.

It’s a good idea to tell people where they need to be 15 minutes before the portraits are actually scheduled to take place and designate an individual who will do the running around if someone’s not there on time. 

4. An over-ambitious cocktail hour portrait session.

One of the drawbacks of not having a first look is having to squeeze in couple’s portraits, family formals and bridal party portraits after the ceremony and during your cocktail hour. While it’s not the end of the world, it’s important to keep in mind that you will spend the entire cocktail hour taking photos, rather than mingling with your guests. 

It’s also extra important that everyone is where they need to be and on time because your schedule is already limited. Not only should you have someone designated to ensure extended family members don’t run off to the cocktail hour when they should be taking photos but also have a family formal shot list ready to go to speed things up. 

5. Guests showing up late to the ceremony.

One of the most common reasons why your wedding schedule might run behind. is because guests turn up late. Perhaps they didn’t account for the traffic or the valet parking took a lot longer than expected. 

To avoid this, put a ceremony starting time on your wedding invitations that is actually 15-20 minutes earlier than the real starting time. Avoid making it any earlier than this or you’ll run the risk of guests arriving when you’re still trying to capture first look portraits. 

6. An extended ceremony duration.

While your priest or rabbi might have “guestimated” the ceremony would take 45 minutes, perhaps they get carried away and it blows out to an additional 15-20 minutes. 

In reality, there’s not a lot you can do (except perhaps asking our celebrant to stick to the schedule). But you should be ready to work efficiently with your photographer to expedite the portrait sessions immediately after the ceremony.

That way, your reception or luncheon won’t get delayed and you’ll be back on track before you know it. 

7. A delayed reception start.

Another common delay occurs at the start of the reception – guests aren’t sitting down at their tables, the wedding party hasn’t lined up for the grand entrance and the couple’s still busy taking portraits.

This might not be a big issue, except if you have an action-packed reception schedule to get through and the music has to be off by 10 pm. 

Again, there’s not a lot couples can do about this (as they should be busy enjoying their newlywed status) and it’s really up to the wedding coordinator, photographer and DJ/MC to work together and keep things on track. 

8. An over-ambitious reception.

At some weddings, there are just too many things being squeezed into the space of three or four hours. You want to have a first dance, toasts and parental dances, as well as a cake cutting ceremony, bouquet toss and garter toss.

If you’re having a cultural celebration, then there are probably some customary traditions or dance performances thrown in, not to mention wanting to greet all of your 200+ guests. 

Before you know it, it’s time to turn the music off and your wedding guests haven’t even had time to hit the dance floor.

To avoid this, get some advice from your wedding coordinator or even your photographer about how many activities you should include in your reception schedule for a realistic and relaxing party. 

9. Not prioritizing photography.

I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a couple that told me their wedding photos weren’t important to them. But not all of them put a high priority on photography and followed my advice to ensure we had enough time to capture gorgeous images on their special day. 

This means following the itinerary set out by your coordinator and scheduling in plenty of photography time (plus a little buffer time in case things run late).

It also means taking your photographer’s suggestions seriously — based on their years of experience and their in-depth understanding of what works…and what doesn’t! 

10. Micro-managing.

So you spent all of that time, money and energy planning an unforgettable day, as well as hiring a professional team of vendors, only to spend the day worrying about things you can’t control. All while you have your family and friends there to celebrate with you and, most importantly, you’re marrying the person of your dreams.

In reality (and even if you do everything possible to prevent it), things may run behind schedule. But at the end of the day, you want to enjoy every moment as much as possible.

Being relaxed and wearing your emotions on your sleeve is the key to having an unforgettable wedding day that’s documented through beautiful photo memories that will last an entire lifetime.