You’ve been dreaming of this since meeting the man of your dreams. Your Pinterest board is full of inspiration. And now you have the ring on your finger. Its time to plan your wedding.

Wedding planning all rainbows and butterflies at first, but can quickly become a major stress-inducer—causing tension between you + your sweetheart, family members, and making you want to curl up in bed with a huge bowl of popcorn… and forget this, presumably exciting, event is on the horizon (at least that is how I felt while planning my wedding).

As a wedding photographer—having worked with my share of couples—and as a past bride myself, I’ve learned that one of the hardest parts of wedding planning is the timeline. Most brides weren’t event planners and most grooms had never been responsible for entertaining 100 other humans for 8 hours. How are you supposed to know how long cocktail hour should be?

I hear you. And this is why I’m sharing 5 tips for creating a seamless timeline for your wedding day. Scroll on my friends…

1. Hire a wedding planner

So many couples choose not to hire a wedding planner because they think they can do it all themselves—DIY style right? Wrong. Even if you’re super type A and the most organized human you know, a wedding planner is priceless. Their actual job is to know the industry, work with your vendors, and coordinate everything happening on your #bestdayever. Hiring a wedding planner is my number one tip for having a seamless wedding day! They’ll make sure everything happens smoothly on your big day so you, your family, and friends won’t have to think about it. You can thank me later.

2. Schedule in more time than necessary

Being given a wide open timeline by a bride is like being handed a hot cup of coffee from my favorite cafe on a cold day. It is comforting… But for real—all wedding days fall behind schedule at some point. It just happens. Getting ready takes longer than expected, traffic is bad, or the flower girl goes missing right before group photos—something is bound to happen and having extra time in your schedule will help balance these unexpected events. I also advocate scheduling more time than necessary so you have time to relax. Pray with your bridesmaids before the ceremony, rally up a bridesmaid to help you use the bathroom in your dress (trust me—its an event in itself), or have a cocktail before heading into the reception. Whatever will keep you present and in-the-moment is worth having time for.

3. Consider doing a first look

I already wrote an article on this titled “Should I do a first look?”.  So go read that… but logistically, it can create a much smoother timeline. Basically, you the couple can nock out all the formal pictures before the ceremony and party with their friends and family after. There is no extra coordinating, rushing through things, or rounding up grandparents who just want to sit with their friends at table with their favorite cocktail. Adding a first look simply put—makes things easier.

4. Your ceremony time dictates everything

You’ll quickly realize this as you start booking vendors, but choosing what time your ceremony happens will dictate everything. This includes: how long you have to get ready, what time your dinner caterers should arrive, and how many hours you will need to book your photographer for. As a rule of thumb, I encourage my couples to plan their ceremony start time 1-2 hours before sunset so we can get the dreamiest of photos. Don’t get me wrong, I can still get some stunning shots mid-day, but I’m not a magician and cannot create sunset or blue hour (after the sun goes down) on my own. If your ceremony is happening at sunset, a first look is a must. If your ceremony is at 10am, maybe a first look at sunrise is worth considering.

5. Give everyone the detailed timeline

Here, I am encouraging you to over communicate. Seriously—its your #bestdayever that you’re planning and you’ll be glad to have everyone (and then some) on board. On that detailed timeline, add names, numbers and addresses. Tell any vendors that have questions to contact your wedding planner or Maid of Honor on the wedding day—NOT YOU. Making sure everyone has the details will give your the peace you need to relax and enjoy every moment of your day.

Thats a wrap! Slide into my DMs and let’s get this wedding planned!